Farmers’ market on way to record year in sales

After relocating its West Bank operations, the German Coast Farmers’ Market is on schedule to have its best year ever, and by adding arts and crafts vendors, the hope is that those sales will increase even more.

Last year, both the East Bank and West Bank markets accounted for $262,000 in sales. At the halfway point of 2009, sales from both markets are already at $229,000 and could exceed $450,000 for the year. On July 20, the Parish Council gave what should be a lift to those numbers by approving a measure to allow arts and crafts vendors once a month at each location.

The move came even though three of the market’s growers were against it, saying that allowing up to 50 percent of the vendors to sell arts and crafts was too high a number, according to parish planner Marny Stein.

But German Coast Farmers’ Market board members said that bringing in arts and crafts will attract more patrons to the market.  More patrons means more business for every vendor.

“When we first approached this, some vendors were apprehensive, but then we explained that bringing in crafters would bring further patrons to them as well, and that it would be controlled and done very well and the integrity of the market would be foremost in our thought,” Marilyn Richoux, board president of the German Coast Farmers’ Market, said at a recent planning and zoning meeting.

Richoux said that residents have asked for arts and crafts vendors for years.

Fellow board member Jara Roux told planning and zoning that there are no businesses at either market site that would be in competition with the arts and craftsmen.

“The West Bank market is our only site which is co-located with other businesses,” she said. “The other businesses in St. Charles Plaza actually have come to us and said having the market on site has increased their business and they are really thrilled to have us there.”

Ann Montgomery, the marketing director for the market, said that farmers’ markets all across the state have been adding arts and crafts.

“They tell us that you can definitely see the days that they have arts and crafts because their numbers go up,” she said.

But not just anyone will be allowed to sell arts and crafts at the market. Richoux said that the board currently has a juried process in place, and any piece of artwork or craft item would be carefully scrutinized by the board.

Arts and crafts will be available at the East Bank market, located at Ormond Plantation, on the second Saturday of each month. They will be available at the West Bank market, located on Highway 90 in the St. Charles Plaza, on the fourth Wednesday of each month.


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