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Lansdale Farmers Market Bars Alice Bakery

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Unkle Al May 1, 2013 01:36 PM

A few days ago I received an email message from Lansdale Farmers Market noting the opening dates and other information. I tried to learn who would be the vendors this year but they did not have a list yet.

My two favorite booths are Mainly Mushrooms (based in Doylestown) and Alice Bakery and Confectionary (based in North Wales).

Mainly Mushrooms is unusual because he has all types of rare mushrooms, including fresh porcinis that are very, very difficult to find anywhere else in the suburbs. The quality is superior and the knowledge of Chris, the owner, extensive.

Alice Bakery and Confectionary is also unusual, they bake bread better than any in the county and the equal of any in the city. They are also a superior patisserie making among the finest croissants and French pastries in the county and the equal of any in the city. They are probably the only bakery in the area to use King Arthur Flour which is more expensive and high fat butter and all natural flavorings etc. We are more than lucky to have them in this community. Furthermore, their success, and they are very successful, is all the more amazing because two other bakeries in North Wales have recently gone out of business.

I went into Alice Bakery today to pick up a baguette and mentioned the Lansdale Farmers Market. I was told by Dennis Darr, the owner and baker, that the farmers market had declined his entry this year. I was absolutely blown away. Alice Bakery has been at the market for the past two years (I think since the bakery opened). Mr.Darr showed me a letter he received from the farmers market confirming their rejection. Honestly, the letter was cold and unsigned and gave no reasons for the rejection. First of all it is a less than smart decision to exclude one of the finest bakeries in the county and second of all shocking that the operators of the market did not have the common decency to contact Mr.Darr personally to explain their decision. Amazingly, not only did they reject his entry they cashed his check for several hundred dollars.

The fact of the matter is that Lansdale Farmers Market is not the greatest. I go every week because it is near my home. But, there is nary a farmer that is certified to sell organic produce and the only other baker is very, very commercial.

It ain’t right!!!!!!!

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  1. crazyspice May 1, 2013 01:56 PM

    That certainly is NOT right! Alice Bakery really is a fabulous bakery. I had a number of friends with milestone birthdays recently and every custom cake they made was raved about. I am not going to visit the Lansdale Farmers Market this year. We are getting a new one in Ambler beginning 6/1. I can't say enough good things about the product Alice Bakery puts out. Plus Dennis and his staff are first rate people. SMH. They had better return his funds!

    1. gaffk May 1, 2013 02:29 PM

      That's crazy! Alice's always did a great amount of business at that market. I wonder if Tabora (now with a location in Lansdale) had any influence on the decision.

      What good is the farmer's butter if there's no crusty baguette to accompany it? I'm officially done with that less-than-stellar farmers market. I guess I'll be seeing Crazy in Ambler.

      4 Replies
      1. re: gaffk
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        wubar May 7, 2013 05:00 AM

        I'm extremely disappointed in this decision by Lansdale FM. My wife and I live 2 blocks from the FM and we hit it at least 2, 3 times a month. I don't ever recall the Alice tent missing from the market as many times as was noted in their "evidence" to reject Alice's entry. Dennis has consistently made the best quality pastries and breads in the area, and I wouldn't be surprised if the FM suffers because of their decision to bar Alice from their premises.

        I wouldn't be surprised if Tabora had an influence in the decision, I remember asking Dennis during his first year why he didn't have any of his wonderful cupcakes for sale at the market, and he said there were certain "rules" that he had to abide by. Basically, since another vendor was selling certain sweets, he wasn't allowed to. However, that other vendor was still allowed to sell their bread products, so who knows what the actual rules were. Although my wife and I are in walking distance to the Lansdale FM, I'm fairly certain we'll be visiting it less frequently this year. It's definitely not one of the best farmers markets around, and my wife and I visit a lot of the local FMs for quality produce and goods. We love visiting Dennis and his staff at his brick and mortar establishment in North Wales, it's a very inviting, comfortable place, and I urge all of you to make the drive if you can. Good to hear Ambler is having a FM, we won't mind making the drive to check out that place too!

        Good luck Dennis! You don't need the Lansdale Farmers Market. Go ahead and try and get into one of the other local farmers markets and get your tasty treats out to more customers who might not be aware of your quality products!

        1. re: wubar
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          givemecarbs May 7, 2013 03:15 PM

          Stopped by Alice about four fourty pm today and I guess the Wizard had left Oz for the day but I did see a sign on the door promoting the Ambler Farmer's Market.
          I love that Alice is open til six pm tues-fri. A really friendly lady cheerfully warmed up pain au chocolat for my friend and I and made me some tea. We also devoured a scone and a danish. I did not see any day old items on sale which might be a sign of their continued sucess.
          Everything was amazing as always. I like that they have a selection of teas. They have redecorated a bit with vibrant yellow and orange pillows and a long bench seat along the wall. The huge flat screen tv was out of sight (thank goodness)
          If I could ever get there at lunch time they have several kinds of quiches and soups that all sounded lovely.
          My friend and I managed to resist the other baked goods including a tart topped with blackberries. I didn't even look at the special chocolates case. My resolve not to have a total carb meltdown can only take so much temptation! I guess we will be seeing Alice at the Ambler farmers market.

          1. re: givemecarbs
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            cwdonald May 7, 2013 08:10 PM

            Have they been accepted at Ambler farmers market? And do you know if they have pledged to be there more than 1/3 of the time?

            1. re: cwdonald
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              givemecarbs May 7, 2013 08:21 PM

              The Wizard had left Oz for the day, it was around four forty pm and i think he starts really early. I didn't ask the warm and sunny counterperson. This will just give me another excuse for a prompt return visit. Some of the quiches on the lunch board sounded amazing. More research is needed!

      2. g
        givemecarbs May 1, 2013 05:59 PM

        Thanks for posting Unkle. If you post this also on the Distorter online in the sound off section I will try to respond there as well. This is depressing news. I know there are two bakeries right on main street in Lansdale but come on!

        1 Reply
        1. re: givemecarbs
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          arepo May 1, 2013 07:27 PM

          Lansdale isn't exactly right next door to us yet we've been known to make the long drive to North Wales just to load up on Alice's stellar cinnamon buns -- the best around.
          What a stupid business judgment the Lansdale Farmer's Market made to exclude them this year.
          Guess politics wins the day ... again!

        2. m
          mookleknuck May 2, 2013 03:18 AM

          Thanks for posting this. Alice Bakery has never disappointed with either their bread or their patisserie.

          One can only wonder as to what led to this decision...

          1. Bacchus101 May 2, 2013 04:35 AM

            As others have mentioned, we do not get to or thru Lansdale often. But have traveled to North Wales for their excellent breads including their baguettes; which I feel the equal to any I have ever had here or abroad. Perhaps the exclusion could be based on limiting bakeries or territorial. However it was decided I agree it is an unfortunate decision and handled with little consideration or courtesy. Never been to the farmers market and now will never go as the market management has acted in a way showing NO class and little business savvy.

            1. s
              SnowCat May 2, 2013 08:38 AM

              This is so upsetting. I was looking forward the the opening of the farmers market for one reason only - to be able to get Alice's croissants Saturday mornings w/o driving to North Wales. Now there is no reason to go to the market at all.

              4 Replies
              1. re: SnowCat
                gaffk May 2, 2013 01:08 PM

                Yes, I e-mailed the Market last night (info@lansdalefarmersmarket.org) to express my displeasure. I received a standard boiler-plate response.

                I guess Saturday mornings will now be a drive to North Wales followed by a trip to Ambler.

                1. re: gaffk
                  g
                  givemecarbs May 2, 2013 04:33 PM

                  At least you tried gaffk. We should all write letters or email to the editor of the Distorter. I think you can still call in too and leave a brief message on Sound Off. I once called in a rant about mayo on cheesesteaks and they printed it!
                  I remember back in the day when Tabora was run by different folks and they sent out newletters Tabora got booted from the Doylestown Farmer's Market. Kind of ironic. Anyway people do read the distorter still. Here is a link:
                  http://www.thereporteronline.com/sect...

                  1. re: givemecarbs
                    gaffk May 2, 2013 07:34 PM

                    info@lansdalefarmersmarket.org

                    1. re: gaffk
                      a
                      arepo May 3, 2013 05:12 AM

                      I just e-mailed this one to them:

                      If you want to read all about yourself go to Chowhound Philadelphia and look up the thread Lansdale Farmer's Market.

                      I think you might be losing quite a bit of your clientele.

                      It ain't pretty!

              2. l
                LansdaleFM May 3, 2013 06:38 AM

                As a volunteer with the Lansdale Farmers’ Market I think it’s important to chime in here to clear a few things up. I wouldn’t typically discuss the details of a vendor’s selection, out of respect for their privacy, but I think a bit of background is needed here as I see that the full picture is not being presented.

                Alice Bakery was not invited to the market this year because of attendance. We’ve discussed the topic with Dennis numerous times and he is aware that this was our reasoning, I’m sorry that he didn’t share this with you. We have just a few specialty bakers at the market and only one “bread guy”. Alice signed up for a full season but did not attend more than a third of the Saturdays last year, and a similar number the previous year. We have been very up front that we need a vendor who will be there consistently to serve our customers. Imagine going to the super market and find that they have no bread. Would you keep shopping there if it happened five weeks in a row? We understand and respect Dennis’ other commitments, and his decision to prioritize as he did, but we must consider the best interest of the market as a whole when choosing vendors. If our customers come to market through the end of the season and can’t purchase what they want and expect, they will stop coming and that hurts all of our vendors.

                The unfortunate thing is that we love Alice’s products - that’s why we recruited him two years ago. We expressed our disappointment when he left early during his first season, and when it happened for a second season we were forced to consider other applicants. Please understand that this was a tough decision and not one we wanted to be making in the first place. We know our customers love his bread, so do we! But, while the market is a community event run by volunteers, it must make tough decisions as a business would from time to time.

                Dennis is lucky to have such loyal customers. I’m not trying to change your opinion of him, or of the market for that matter, I just think it’s important to share a clear picture. Including the fact that Alice’s check was never cashed. Not sure where this notion came from, but I am certain of this and the fact that it has been returned. There are always hurt feelings when we go through this process and I don’t wish to stoke the flames, I only ask that you consider the market’s position. I know you are disappointed by the outcome but I hope you can respect where we are coming from.

                5 Replies
                1. re: LansdaleFM
                  sal_acid May 3, 2013 06:51 AM

                  Good answer; assuming that the space is limited.

                  1. re: sal_acid
                    c
                    cwdonald May 3, 2013 08:25 AM

                    I actually find Lansdale's famers market to be relatively cramped, so I have no doubt that space is limited. I wish they could use the Septa parking lot because I bet they could get more people/vendors in and they might be able to accommodate vendors who are there at different frequencies. It will be exciting to see what Ambler's is like, though living in Central Bucks I have options for markets in Doylestown, Wrightstowm, New Hope and Stockton NJ in addition to going west to Mont Co.

                  2. re: LansdaleFM
                    a
                    arepo May 3, 2013 07:25 AM

                    For once a good and honest retort and one to be respected.
                    That's why it is always important to seek both sides of a story. Communication is key.
                    Perhaps you would reconsider having Alice' back (it's great for business!) if Dennis promises to fill his end of the bargain.
                    Then it would be a win-win situation all around.
                    Thanks for being upfront and posting.

                    1. re: LansdaleFM
                      gaffk May 3, 2013 08:19 AM

                      Thanks for the insight into this situation.

                      1. re: LansdaleFM
                        Bacchus101 May 3, 2013 11:46 AM

                        Understandable decision based on knowing the "other side" of the story. I will go with good and honest answer. Based on two years of past performance or lack there of, it seems a justified decision, especially considering Alice's was aware of the concerns with their absences previously. I believe it is a short trip from Lansdale to North Wales for those who really care to have Alice's excellent products. My drive to NW is considerable longer. Thanks for the courtesy of a thoughtful and respectful response.

                      2. u
                        Unkle Al May 3, 2013 08:42 AM

                        It is understandable that the market responded after gaffk and arepo brought the chowhound posts to its’ attention. To them we owe our gratitude.

                        It is disconcerting when you rely upon any store for a certain product to be out of the product repeatedly. Maybe I am unusual but I always give the retailer some slack. Especially, if I value the product and even more so if its’ quality is unavailable elsewhere (which is the case here).

                        However, a “good and honest answer” I honestly think not.

                        The market was opened for about 24 weeks, from middle May through the beginning of November. To my recollection there were very few weeks when Alice’s was not there. The market response indicates that Alice’s missed 1/3 of the 24 weeks. I know that the owner’s wife had a baby during this time and it is understandable that a couple of weeks were missed for that auspicious occasion. Prioritizing for the birth of your baby and paying a price, barbaric in my opinion. There may have been a couple of weeks at the very end of the season missed but I noticed that other vendors were not there either. I think I would have noticed if Alice’s was not there one out of every three weeks.

                        Furthermore, why not tell the guy at the end of last season instead of sending an unsigned form letter to him after he has made plans to attend this year.

                        I also encourage the market to reconsider their decision. I am pretty sure after this brouhaha that Alice’s will not miss a week for the next ten or fifteen years!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Unkle Al
                          gaffk May 3, 2013 07:38 PM

                          I did not attend the market every week; but every week I attended Alice's was present. And every week I bought farmers' butter and Alice's baguette. And the chocolate-raspberry roll from Tabora ;)

                        2. s
                          spottedcow May 8, 2013 11:58 AM

                          Farmers Market -- "a market or group of stalls and booths where farmers and sometimes other vendors sell their products directly to consumers".
                          I think anyone who wants to sell there product should be allowed to attend. This country was built on a free enterprise system. If there are 5 guys that sell bread, let them all attend.
                          I've been to real farmers markets where there are 20 different farmers selling produce. They all get along fine and enjoy each others company. Choice is a great thing. Regulating who can come and who can't has no place in an outdoor market.
                          It's unfortunate but I stopped going around 2 years ago.

                          11 Replies
                          1. re: spottedcow
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                            givemecarbs May 8, 2013 06:15 PM

                            I don't get it either spottedcow. Like I mentioned earlier, Tabora was kicked out of the Doylestown farmers market years ago for some reason.

                            1. re: givemecarbs
                              crazyspice May 8, 2013 07:21 PM

                              And yet Tabora is back at DFM. I have been there the past 2 weeks.

                              1. re: crazyspice
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                                givemecarbs May 8, 2013 10:55 PM

                                That is a pretty little market there isn't it crazyspice? I do miss the croissants from the Maison to munch on while I browse. The exclusion of Tabora happened years and years ago with the original owners I think.
                                Tabora used to send out a quirky little newsletter and it was mentioned there. That newsletter was fun to read.

                                1. re: givemecarbs
                                  crazyspice May 9, 2013 05:24 AM

                                  It really is a small market carbs. I like the mushroom table and the farmer with the nicest salad greens.

                              2. re: givemecarbs
                                c
                                cwdonald May 11, 2013 05:37 AM

                                Both Tabora and the Mushroom guy are there (was there this morning). The market is run by the Buckingham Civic Association and has been running since 1973... its not all that big (essentially one city block with about a total of fifteen purveyors on both sides of the street, with a few sometimes spilling into the parking lot. I like it because its on Saturdays, (unlike New Hope which is on Thursday nights).

                                1. re: cwdonald
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                                  givemecarbs May 11, 2013 11:07 AM

                                  there are lots of places to grab breakfast or coffee nearby as well. But not that croissant and cheese place any more. /sigh

                                  1. re: givemecarbs
                                    c
                                    cwdonald May 11, 2013 11:16 AM

                                    I thought I had heard that the croissant were now being made at Andres by the same person who baked for La Maison. Andres opens at 9 so you potentially could get the croissant and a coffee there and walk out to the market

                                    Tabora had a big selection this morning, but I strongly prefer Crossroads so I just was happy with finding my ramps, morels, and fiddleheads from the mushroom guy, and left.

                                    1. re: cwdonald
                                      crazyspice May 11, 2013 11:45 AM

                                      I keep missing the Hen of the Woods. 11 pounds brought to the market. Gone! I need to set my alarm.

                                      1. re: cwdonald
                                        g
                                        givemecarbs May 12, 2013 10:51 AM

                                        Wow cwdonald! Where is Andres? I so am missing those croissants. The Bagel Barrel is just not the same, although it is the bestest people (and dog) watching spot in Doylestown at the tables when the weather is fine.
                                        For those croissants I will go on a different day and take them to my favorite picnic spot in doylestown he he!

                                        1. re: givemecarbs
                                          c
                                          cwdonald May 12, 2013 02:20 PM

                                          Andre's is in the Marketplace, near Baked on Main. It is the local wine and cheese store that hired the baker from La Maison after it closed.

                                          Look at the article in the Dining Out section on pg 23 in the Herald! t.co/De9vAufs

                                          1. re: cwdonald
                                            g
                                            givemecarbs May 12, 2013 07:10 PM

                                            Oh thanks! Just got a tasty meatball sandwich from Baked On Main a coupla weeks ago. The roll was nicely toasted and this delightful treat helped me prevail in a card tourney at Cyborg One. This time last year it was all about Coach's and their dizzying selection of fries with toppings but alas they shortened their hours.

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