Do Farmers’ Markets Grow On You?

Articles
June 09, 2010

Do Farmers’ Markets Grow On You?

Supermarkets ought to stop looking at farmers’ markets as quaint gatherings of like-minded growers that appeal to a segment of buyers who want their produce fresh, fast and local. They should also stop looking at them as competition to their own showpiece departments.

Supermarkets ought to stop looking at farmers’ markets as quaint gatherings of like-minded growers that appeal to a segment of buyers who want their produce fresh, fast and local. They should also stop looking at them as competition to their own showpiece departments.

Rather, by hosting farmers’ markets in their parking lots or other adjacent spaces, they could project a fairly unassailable image of wholesomeness, of having high regard for local food sources, and respect for their shoppers—who might just become more prone to buying more dressings, accompaniments and center-plate foods inside the store to accompany their earthy scores of fruits and vegetables.

Better still, we believe at The Lempert Report, if a supermarket with the right physical setup were to schedule these as regular branded events, they’d draw increasing traffic and motivate farmers to become regulars too. Imagine all that face time for growers to cultivate customers, and with no need to open their own physical store or give up a percentage to a distributor. They do need to pay something, and they do. According to the Los Angeles Times, vendors at a popular Hollywood farmers’ market pay 6.5% of their sales as rent to the market, and “many of the 100 produce stands take in about $400 on Sundays, while a few make as much as $2,500.”  

Should supermarkets shun their potential to build buzz and a rental revenue stream with such events? We think not, since consumers are looking to eat healthier, and they often like to support local grower-entrepreneurs. Moreover, celebrity farmers bring co-branding opportunities, as do restaurateurs who might be inclined to organize markets themselves to ensure their supply of quality produce, such as the Batali-Bastianich Farmers’ Market in Las Vegas.  

Think about Ralphs, Bruno’s, Stew Leonard’s and Balducci’s, and realize these stores attained celebrity status because their namesakes knew food well and were credible to their customers. The Lempert Report believes it is absolutely possible that with nurturing branded or co-branded farmers’ markets could experience similar local and regional successes.