By TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER
In early summer, the city of Bristol launched a Wednesday farmers market on the Federal Hill Green, Grove Street, and Wednesday, Aug. 29 marked the last one of the 2018.
For many of the farmers, the Wednesday market added another chance to meet potential clients and spread the word about their products.
Ridge Runner Soap Company has been in business for four years and has been frequenting the Bristol farmers markets since the company began.
“It’s a family business, my brother started it because he got really bad allergies from store bought soap products. He started making his own and gave them out as Christmas gifts, and it just turned into a business,”said Scott Piper, of Ridge Runner Soap Co., LLC.
Piper said the Bristol farmers markets have helped his family business, by allowing them to network with new customers.
“It’s improved every year – we get online orders, just networking with people, I mean, it’s gotten better and better for us every year,” said Piper. “It’s really consistent for us, and we won’t be giving this one up for a while.”
Consistency is key for farmers markets, according to Riva Martin of Nature View Farms and Henry Gresczyk of Gresczyk Farm, both of whom said markets are most successful when people get into the habit of going.
“It’s something that people have to see, and word spreads, it’s a real big word of mouth type of thing, so I think this is going to be fabulous next year and the year after, it’s only going to get better,” said Martin.
The weather is also one of the factors that determines the success of a market, and this summer really put these farmers to the test.
“It was a good experience, we faced a number of hurdles weather wise – rain on three or four out of eight Wednesdays, and superheat on two of them – it was definitely a battle to get people into a rhythm of coming, which is just something you face with markets,” said Gresczyk.
But no matter what Mother Nature threw their way, these farmers and entrepreneurs continued to come out and interact with their community, like Eduardo Garces, who is in the process of opening Real Cafe on School Street.
“We’re working on the coffee shop on School Street, it’s been two and a half years,” said Garces. “There’s a lot of things to do, but this is our first baby step— getting it here and having people try it… and it’s working out good.”
For vendors such as Beth and Jack Zukowski, of Better Baking by Beth, the farmers markets went from being a portion of their operations, to one of their main avenues of operation.
“We have been in business for 10 years, and we’ve been doing farmers markets under Better Baking by Beth [for ten years], said Beth Zukowski. “We kind of downsized just to do the farmers markets because we found that it was more profitable instead of having a showcase full of stuff that you had to hope that you had foot traffic.”
And while the Federal Hill farmers market has closed for the season, you can still meet these farmers and interact with other businesses on Saturdays, when the Bristol Farmers Market is set up on Old Centre Square. The Saturday Market will run until October.