Seaport Farmers Market Rethinking Business Plan
Did anyone else see the story on the CBC with the above headline today?
What are your thoughts on how the market is going a year later. (It's been a year, right?)
I for one have become a pretty dedicated Sunday market goer. I appreciate the quantity of vendors on Sunday while not missing the crowds from Saturday. A few of my favourite vendors don't make the trek for Sunday but enough do to make it worthwhile. I make occasional weekday visits. On a weekday there aren't a lot of vendors - but you can get meat, bread, fish, veggies and milk each day the market is open. And there are a number of lunch options. But they seem to be a bit in that trap of not having a lot of foot traffic and so not being able to attract more vendors.
My biggest "discovery" with the market is how close it actually is to downtown. I work in the downtown and have been surprised by how little time it takes to walk from my place of work (on SG Road) to the market on my lunch hour. I think the market would do well to highlight this to downtown business workers.
What have your experiences been with the "new" market?
I don't live in the city, but I commute during the week and go to the seaport market on a regular basis for a few of my everyday staples. I often go on thursdays, when there aren't any veggie producers other than Noggins, but I can still get milk, cheese and yogurt from foxhill every day, meat from Getaway, and fruit from Noggins... My CSA kept me stocked up with veggies until a few weeks ago, so the market was able to fulfill my needs even on the slow days.
Selwood Green and Elmridge and a few other smaller producers were pretty regular at the Wednesday market this summer, but I haven't been by on a Wednesday lately. When I worked on Spring Garden road, I made it down to the International market a few times. A little far for a 1/2 hour lunch break, but worth it!
My main beef this fall was that they closed off the street in front of the market when the cruise ships were in, which made it very inconvenient to drop in for a quick 5 minute grocery pickup - which honestly is what they're going to have to provide for people to make it a viable part of their weekly grocery routine rather than a saturday foodie attraction. I kept going - it's not the vendors fault that the seaport authority closes the street - but it was pretty irritating.
It's tough. I want to support the Seaport market as much as I can but I also visit the Brewery market on Saturday mornings. I go really early to avoid the crowds. I like Hutton Farms produce at the Brewery market. If la Vandeene and Getaway were at the brewery market I would probably not go to the Seaport. But, I also like the fact that I can get fish, meat and dairy on any day of the week from the Seaport market. The comparisons I hear are all about the St.Lawrence Market in TO or the Granville market in Van. But both those cities have a far greater population than Halifax. I really hoped to be able to do my market shopping on Wednesdays and Sundays when the Seaport first opened but the lack of vendors on Wednesday made it not worth my while.
I really don't know what the solution is. The Seaport market needs more vendors on weekdays to make it worth going but they need more people attending to make it worth their while. A classic catch 22. Until then I will continue with my early Saturday morning routine.
I have stopped going to the new market, and now only shop at the original Brewery farmers market. The new market is not well-designed (crowd control and flow?), parking is a pain, and it is not especially friendly to vendors or to consumers.
From what I have heard, vendors are not allocated a permanent spot unless they guarantee to be there 3 days a week -- how can an independent farmer or producer manage that? Why should I struggle every time I go to locate the small producers whom I prefer?
In addition, I have heard that the new market doubles table prices whenever a cruise ship is in town. While that might make sense for vendors selling ready-to-eat items, what about those selling raw fish, meat or other items?