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Eggplants and peppers, Martha Dragich photoFarmers market scenario

Type of operation
Friendly Folks Market is a producers only market with a reputation for having a number of organic/sustainable producers. The vendors supply produce, eggs, meat, fish, cheese, fruit, flowers, plants, honey, and a limited amount of arts and crafts to the public.

Marketing strategy
The market allows members, vendors and daily vendors to set up stalls. They must sell products that they have grown or produced, a rule that is vigorously enforced by other vendors and the market master. The market master makes random farm inspections to ensure member vendors are growing what they are selling. Resale of products grown by other producers (including the nearby Amish farmers) anywhere in the state or nation is strictly prohibited. Most of the vendors are from Radish county or counties that border it, generally considered within a 50 mile radius of Localvoreville. There are a few board approved specialty vendors from outside of that area. Sales occur Wed. and Sat. mornings from 8 a.m. to noon (April to October). Venders must be in place and set up 30 minutes prior to market opening. Saturday sale dates average 30 vendors and 1,000 to 1,500 customers at high season. Members pay an annual membership fee and additional fees to reserve specific stalls. Daily vendors pay a daily fee and are assigned a location by the market manager on a space available basis. Vendors must sign a vending agreement with the market prior to selling. The market offers an annual vendor workshop, which may be attended by members, non-members and vendors affiliated with other markets. Friendly Folks Market maintains a website which advertises market hours, and expected product availability; lists member vendors and includes addresses and links to their farm websites; and publishes by-laws for consumers to see. The market advertises in newspapers within the county, which have a combined circulation of 65,000, uses billboards and radio spots, and has recently begun a presence on Facebook. Their Facebook page has 900 members. The market is also listed in promotional material from the Missouri Department of Agriculture.

Selling produceLocation
1100 Market Street, Localvoreville, MO 65777, which is a paved parking lot in the central city attached to a strip mall called Market Strip Shops (1100 Market Street, Localvoreville MO 65777; 816-655-xxxx).  The owners of the strip mall allow the Farmers’ Market to use the parking area for no charge but they have negotiated and agreement which assures that the strip mall is not in any way responsible for the sales or other activities related to the Farmers’ Market. The Farmers’ Market brings more potential customers to the strip mall when it is open, but the strip mall owners do have concerns about parking on market days. They would like to keep the parking spaces closest to the stores open for strip mall customers. Market street is a City maintained street, 1 block N of I-82 (main E/W connector in Missouri), and 2 miles east of busy Highway 52. Localvoreville is a city of 40,000. The cell phone number for the market master is 816-555-xxxx.

The facility consists of a 300 foot wide and 100 foot deep temporary space on a paved parking lot that generally serves as parking for the strip mall. Each vendor is guaranteed a stall space of 14’x 30’ which includes space for a vehicle and a pop-up tent that should measure no more than 10’x10’. Approximately 31 venders can be accommodated in the paved area. The market sets up directly in front of a strip of stores, which is separated by a double driving lane between the market and the stores. There is free onsite parking for up to 60 customer vehicles at one time. The market provides portable restroom facilities for customers and vendors. Portable rest rooms are leased for the market season from Pots R US 1500, Commerce Ave. Cityville MO 65767 phone number is 816-234-xxxx. Electricity is supplied by the city of Localvoreville (Localvoreville Electric 1122 Industrial Blvd. Localvoreville, MO 65777; 816-655-xxxx) but is only available to a total of 6 vendors because the supply comes from one pole with limited outlets. Handwashing stations are provided by the vendors since running water is not available at the site. Vendors are required to monitor handwashing stations that they have provided. There is a small permanent shed at the site which is kept locked when the market is not open. The shed is used to store signs, barriers, tools, and clean up supplies when not in use.

The perimeter of the market is bounded on two sides by stores in the strip mall, on one side by a city maintained street, and is open to the parking lot on the other side. The market is situated within 500 feet of a busy restaurant.  

Vendors must arrive prior to the market opening time in order to set up their stall as they must be ready to sell at market opening. Vendors who are not in place at least 15 minutes prior to the market can have their stalls reassigned. The market master checks in vendors, including daily vendors, and assigns stalls when needed. The market master rings the bell to start the selling day. No sales are allowed prior to opening bell, although early customers can browse available products and ask for certain products to be held. The market master is also responsible for maintaining market rules which do not allow dogs, bikes, skateboards or motorized transport in the market area, as well as directing customers to requested vendors or products. The market master is responsible for occasional farm inspections and enforces the producer only rules during the market. Producers selling organic products must have their certification available for inspection by the market master or customers. For the past two years, the market has been using a debit card/EBT (electronic benefits transfer) machine that allows vendors to accept “food stamps” and to make sales to those without cash. The market master is responsible for running the wireless machine and for coordinating cash and EBT tokens that are redeemed by the vendors at the end of the market day.

Tents, merchandise, change, state approved scales if appropriate, and bags or containers for the merchandise must be provided by the vendor. Vendors of meat, dairy and egg products are responsible for keeping their product at state mandated temperatures. Vendors may provide free samples in accordance with Localvoreville city regulations. Local health inspectors regularly visit the market. The market and market board are not responsible for product liability although the market maintains an insurance policy. Product liability is the responsibility of the vendors. The market makes no guarantees as to production practices of the various vendors (organic or otherwise) which must be determined by the customer and vendor. Live animals of any kind are not allowed in the market.

Quality control
Meat must be federally inspected, pre-packaged for sale with an approved label, and kept at state/federally mandated temperatures. For all animal products, including meat, poultry, eggs, cheese, honey, fish and animal by-products, animals shall have been in control of the vender for a minimum of 50 percent of the animal’s life. Products must meet all applicable, local state and federal regulations. Producers selling product that is labeled organic must comply with the federal organic standards and must be able to produce certification or verification of limited sales or that producer will be reported to USDA. Edible products must be transported stored and displayed under sanitary conditions prior to sale.

Entertainment and education
Various musical groups and other entertainers perform at the market throughout the season. Cooking demonstrations and special tastings are scheduled at least once a month for Saturday markets.  Every week a different not for profit group (master gardeners, fire department, health department, etc.) sponsors an educational booth.  These events are organized by the market master and board committees.

Number of employees
The current market master is Susie Sustainable, who is a part time permanent employee. There is an eight member volunteer board that oversees operations of the market.  The board treasurer collects memberships and stall rentals from member vendors at one of the three monthly meetings held at the beginning of the calendar year. The market master collects daily vendor fees and supervises operations at the market. Rule violations and complaints are reported to the board for resolution. The market master can inspect the farm/facility of each vendor on a case by case basis to ensure that the produce/products sold are indeed produced by the vendor. The volunteer group “Friends of the Market,” has members that volunteer to take customer counts. The counts are conducted for 10 minutes on the half hour. The market master coordinates with the volunteer group.

Visitor policy
Visitor logs are not maintained. Visitors can enter the market from the main opening in the front of the market, or through either end.