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A (market) day in the life of the market manager

From measuring the parking lot to returning the cones, here’s how the manager spends market day #farmersmarketsdontjusthappen

My little piece of our happy place. Come see me at the market tent for all of your market information and to get a tote bag!

By Kat Peters, Market Manager

August 7-13, 2022 is National Farmers Market Week. The theme this year, proposed by the National Farmers Market Coalition, is “Farmers Markets Don’t Just Happen.”

I have written before about all that goes into markets, and before the start of the season I even shared a few of my daily activities leading up to Opening Day.

This week I thought I would tell you about my day on Wednesdays, when the market happens (each week, rain or shine, from 3-7 PM!). Of course, preparations begin even before I arrive on site, as I pack up the car with the market box, choose weather-appropriate weather, and prepare water, ice and snacks.

On my way to the market I stop in the Coffee Creek business park area and put up 2 small yellow yard signs, reminding folks that the market is happening today! This is also for people who might be visiting us for the first time and are not sure where to go – there is a QR code with a link to our driving directions on the sign!

Next, I head to the market site. I try to arrive at 1 PM on days with a lot of vendors (or 1:15 on a “regular” day), such as our artisan days. These are the days when my handy tape-measure comes in handy. As you may know, each vendor’s tent is 10x10’. So I measure 12-15 feet spaces, depending on the day, and mark the curb with chalk lines and vendor names. I move the cones away from the market entrance to make way for vendor vehicles.

Left to right: The lot as vendors begin to arrive (note the "SHH" in the foreground for Small Hands Homestead); a view of some bungee cords and ratchet straps holding things together; our cones and A-frame sign at the market entrance.

Not long after the vendors begin to arrive. Some days, several have already beaten me there! The logistics of market set-up can be intense! With vehicles pulling into spaces, food trucks maneuvering, vendors unloading tents and products and then driving cars out, the parking lot is really “hopping” for a while there! Sometimes I get to play traffic cop, and I’ve even gotten to push a vehicle that wouldn’t start so that a food truck could angle into the space next door.

As vendors begin to display their products, I set up the electrical cords needed by some booths. I check to be sure vendors have weights for their tents, appropriate signs for their products, and any other help they may need. I also get to set up my own tent! With help from framer Damien at Native Roots Farm, I set up the tent, get my weights attached for safety, hang my signs, and set up the information tables.

When all looks good at the market, I head out to Highway 49 to set up our road signs. This year we got an extra A-frame sign to display on the Northeast corner of the Residences at Coffee Creek to help folks find their way to us.

Our wayfinding signs along Highway 49.

Then I come back to the market by 2:45 to be sure that everyone is in place and we can open at 3! At that time, either I ring the bell to open the market, or I recruit a customer or vendor to help me. I kind of like a little ceremony to show how grateful we are to be participating in our local food system at the market.

And then come the customers! It is so fun to be able to count you all with my handy little counter! This helps us to gather information about the market the help the vendors understand how to best serve you.

From left to right: "Secret" manager tools; vote for us in the AFT Farmers Market Celebration!; find the information chalkboard at my tent

Throughout the market I check on safety, see how sales are going, greet you, sell tote bags, and just enjoy our “happy place” where we get to put those locally produced foods into your hands. I try to take photos and communicate live via social media to let everyone know how the day is going.

A little before 7 PM I take down our wayfinding signs, so that by 7 I can be back at the market as vendors begin to tear down their booths. Tents and tables are folded, signs and tablecloths tucked into totes along with bungee cords and ratchet straps, leftover products carefully handled and the days earnings thoughtfully recorded and stored. I wind up the electrical cords, and return the cones and market A-frame sign to the Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve office.

Some teardown shots from July 27th after the rain.

By 7:30 or 7:45, the parking lot is empty again, an amazing phenomena after sharing so much local goodness for four hours in that space.

Find us this week and every week at our Wednesday market at the Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve Pavilion parking lot, April 20-November 2, 2022, from 3-7 PM. Check us out on Facebook and Instagram, and sign up for our mailing list to get notified of all of the vendors' featured products each week.

Starting June 20, vote for the Coffee Creek Farmers Market as your favorite market and help us to win part of this year's $10,000 prize from American Farmland Trust and the Farmers Market Coalition! Click here to cast your vote for us and get a free No Farms No Food bumper sticker!

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