The Sackville Farmers’ Market has come a long way in the last five years.
Kent Coates, vice-chair of the newly-established farmers’ market board, said sales have increased significantly, the crowds are getting more diverse and the number of vendors have been on the rise since the market took to the streets in the summer of 2008. And that’s good news for not only the market stakeholders but the town as well.
“It’s growing, it’s community-based, it’s good for business, good for tourism, and it’s a really great meeting place for different demographics coming together,” said Coates during a presentation to town council last month.
Coates, a local producer who sells his goods at the market each week, said he is now doing four times the sales he was doing in 2007 – before the town enabled the Bridge Street closure.
Since that time, he said the demographics have been noticeably more diverse, bringing in a wider range of students, residents and tourists from a number of areas.
“It’s bringing quite a few people to town on a Saturday morning. It has become quite a big event,” said Coates.
The market, which now regularly attracts 35-plus vendors each week during the spring and summer months, has become really well supported and “has a lot going for it.”
“The festive atmosphere in the downtown core has a lot to do with it,” he said of the spacious Bridge Street location and the musical entertainment provided each week.
Coates said the market has plenty of spinoffs as well, as it draws more people to downtown Sackville every Saturday. And the sense of community the market brings to Sackville is an advantage in attracting people to the town, not only to visit but to stay here.
“It provides a great ambience for retiring people and for families.”
Coates said the current location for the outdoor market, which is set up on Bridge Street from early May until late October, “is working really well,” especially compared to previous sites that have been used in the past 15 years: such as the parking lot behind the old fire hall, the civic centre, and the basement of the former Stedman’s.
He said the infrastructure and operational costs are low, which has helped the farmers’ market get back on track after years of struggle.
“It helps us keep the momentum going to take us to that next step.”
Coates said he is well aware the street closure has been a contentious issue for the town, and the farmers’ market board is looking at other options for a long-term solution.
Currently the board is identifying a number of locations that would be suitable for the market and would meet the needs of the vendors and the customers.
Coates pointed out that 2012 was a year of change for the farmers market, with a board established and some structure developing – including regulations, a vision and a mandate to follow.
Meanwhile, town council once again approved the Bridge Street closure for 2013, with the outdoor market to set up there Saturday mornings from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. from May 4 to Oct. 26.