Farmers market finds success in downtown Elkhart
Posted: 08/16/2012 at 1:15 am
By: Dan Spalding
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These are some vegetables from Chapel Road Farm for sale at the Farmers Market on Main Street in Elkhart, Ind. on Friday, Aug. 10, 2012. (Truth Photo By Evey Wilson)
Kathy Sproatt pays Randy Walker of Chapel Road Farm for produce at the Farmers Market on Main Street in Elkhart on Friday.
Truth Photo By Evey Wilson
Kathy Sproatt pays Randy Walker of Chapel Road Farm for produce at the Farmers Market on Main Street in Elkhart, Ind. on Friday, Aug. 10, 2012. Sproatt is buying produce for dinner. (Truth Photo By Evey Wilson)
Wanda McCartney of McCartney's Farms bags some produce for Kathy Sproatt at the Farmers Market on Main Street in Elkhart, Ind. on Friday, Aug. 10, 2012. McCartney has been selling produce at farmers markets for six years. (Truth Photo By Evey Wilson)
Meyers, who lives in Osceola, had been selling handmade children’s clothing, non-allergenic detergent and lotions at a market in Granger until this year. She made the change to Elkhart, she said, out of convenience.
“I love it,” Meyers said.
“The people who run it and the customers who come through are so personable and easy to talk to,” she said.
Meyers’ booth is one of many that now populate the downtown store at 224 S. Main St.
She said sales are sometimes a bit slow, but she said she believes the location and good marketing will work in the market’s favor.
“I plan on sticking it out,” Meyers said.
Three months after the market switched to its new location, Meyers is not alone in her upbeat outlook.
Tom Langley, who manages the market with his wife, Ginnie, said he’s happy with his decision to move the market from an outdoor spot at Lundquist Bicentennial Park, where he struggled to generate a respectable number of vendors. He said location and unpredictable weather made it a challenge.
The market’s new home has about a dozen vendors and there is space for only about one more booth.
He said he continues to field inquiries from people interested in hosting a booth.
“Overall, I think they’re pretty much happy. If they’re weren’t, I think they’d be out of here,” Langley said. “Longevity is a good sign.”
Vendors offer a variety of items beyond a handful of traditional fresh produce and bakery booths. Nutritional items, jewelry, wall hangings and clothing are also available.
Langley doesn’t appear content with the market’s success.
Originally, he planned to close the market in October, but is contemplating remaining open year-round.
The idea of shifting to a year-round operation is being driven by sales and requests, he said.
If the market remains open through the winter, Langley said he would probably scale back the number of days it is open.
The market has provided a boost to downtown, according to Mike Huber, president of Downtown Elkhart Inc.
The store helps provide a service for workers and residents of downtown.
“We’re ecstatic to hear that they are doing well and not just surviving but expanding and growing even more,” Huber said.
Saturdays are proving to be the busiest day while customer traffic on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays tend to be unpredictable, Langley said.
“Seems like every day, somebody comes in and says they didn’t know we were here, which is interesting considering all of the publicity,” Langley said.
Langley continues to look at ways to improve the market.
A coffee bar toward the back of the store now offers freshly roasted selections. Last week, the featured choice was a Peruvian blend.
The market has a Facebook page and a website is being developed.
The store has experimented with live music and Langley said he might reconfigure an area to accommodate entertainers.
Langley is in the midst of renovating the back of the store for office space and a kitchen.
While he’s sticking with his four-day schedule, Langley is willing to expand hours during certain downtown events such as last weekend’s Freedom Ride.
He’s also looking at a late-night promotion in which some vendors are featured on the sidewalk.
Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Fridays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.