Where are our loyal patrons?

swampscott farmers market

We want to take this time to sit down with you, our market patrons and have a heart-to-heart. Unfortunately we have noticed a dramatic decline in market customers this year and we want to get feedback from everyone as to why this may be happening.  We have a loyal group of volunteers who come out to work every week and take time out of their schedule throughout the year to grow the market and provide this service to the community so it breaks our hearts to see this.  We have had feedback in the past that we need more produce vendors so we listened and we now have 4 large farms that come and provide an abundant selection of fruits, vegetables, plants & herbs in addition to all of our other great vendors providing goodies like cold brew coffee, maple syrup, baked goods, eggs, meat, pickles, salsa, spices, snacks, fresh fish and crafts.  If the vendors don’t have the patrons to support their business and the travel to the market, we are going to lose them and along with it this vibrant market we have built.

SO, we are reaching out to you for your help.  We need you to come out and support the vendors and spread the word so that your friends and families come out as well.  In addition to supporting the market, we are looking for your feedback.  Why are you not making it to the market this year? Is there something more you’d like to see? Are we missing something? Do you just need reminders? Will signs throughout town on Sunday help bring people in?  You can either comment on this post, on facebook or email us, we’re here to listen!

We provide this service to enrich our community and support our local farms and businesses, we want it to thrive and grow but we can’t do that without your support! Thank you!!

Sincerely,
The Swampscott Farmer’s Market Committee

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30 thoughts on “Where are our loyal patrons?

  1. something as simple as an email or text reminder on Sunday morning would be immensely helpful in getting me to attend each week. or have an option to add it as a calendar event on each weekly email.

    • Thanks for the feedback! We certainly understand that people often just forget about it and before they know it the market is over so we are definitely going to look into some reminder features so people can be reminded on Sundays!

  2. I’ve been there every week that the market was open. I think having to close because of weather during the first several weeks probably caused some folks to start going to one of the other local markets.

  3. We’ve been going every week from the beginning and look forward to going every time. We really miss Eventide (I know that she’s just had a baby). I’ve also noticed that the farmer from Maine hasn’t been there too often. His fruit was always delicious. Facebook notices might help and Swampscott Patch reminders.
    I also think that people don’t want to pay extra for fresh produce, which can’t be helped.

  4. We LOVE the farmer’s market but have only been able to go once this summer due to travel. Should be able to get there from now on!

  5. This may sound strange but for some reason I don’t like that it’s on a paved parking lot (especially when it’s hot out) although I realize having it at the high school must make it easier for parking. I think I’d be more likely to go if it was held in front of Town Hall or Linscott Park. You can see the water from there, go for a walk after, and stop in local businesses for an ice cream or bite to eat. I think they’d be more foot traffic from beach walkers as well. I’d also be more likely to go if it was a weeknight (like Monday or Tuesday) from 3-7 like the Salem Farmer’s market. It’s something nice to do to wind down after work. Also, lower attendance might be due to increased memberships in local farm shares.

    • We would love that Erin, we’ve considered it a number of times but unfortunately we’ve decided it wouldn’t work. The vendors need to drive their trucks up to set up their booths and we would ruin the lawns at the town green along with having limited parking for customers. Thanks for the feedback, we’ll keep all of these points in mind!

  6. I agree that the weather and summer travel are probably two of the biggest factors for low attendance. Maybe I can line up a proxy to buy something for me whenever I can’t be there…and I’d be willing to make an exception to my “no lawn signs” policy if the survival of the market is at stake and that would help!

  7. I agree that down by the beach would be an appealing location for customers. If that’s not possible, what about using the Clarke school hot top? Trucks could drive in, and there’d be much more visibility from the road for those of us who need visual reminders. The high school parking lot is out of sight, and can make remembering to attend difficult to keep in mind.

  8. Hi Swampscott Market Committee,

    As a distantish neighbor of yours in Boston, where we’ve got markets every day of the week, here’s what I’ve seen that works.

    1. Can you get food trucks at your market? People really dig them as a draw.
    2. My local market has free coffee and sometimes live music.
    3. They also send out an email every week (Thursdayish) about which vendors are going to be at the market that Saturday. Some vendors are on an alternating-weeks schedule, so it helps me keep straight if this is the week for the pasta place or not.
    4. Something fun for the kids, like a small craft project/drawing table. In the fall, one market brings in a guy with an apple press and that’s always got a line.
    5. Some hip place that gets a lot of press or buzz–Union Square Donuts out of Somerville makes the market rounds from the South End to Dorchester to Copley. Jamaica Plain has had lines out the door for a cool bagel pop-up called Exodus.
    6. Handout cards, postcard sized, at local businesses are useful reminders too.

    Hope this helps, and hope the attendance was just due to everyone on vacation.

    • These are all great ideas Melanie, we’ll bring them up at our next meeting. We’ve tried multiple times to get food trucks but have a hard time getting them out here, let us know if you know any we should reach out to. The email idea seems to be a theme so we’re going to get started on that, thanks for your feedback!

      • I can understand why getting food trucks up there is a challenge, especially since they’re limited to the roads they can travel on with propane tanks. On that geographic note, I would check with the commercial kitchen/food incubator in Malden. I think it’s called Stock Pot or Polka Dot–but there are a ton of food trucks working out of there. Even getting one different each week would provide variety and a good reason for weekly visits.

        Whole Foods also has a truck. It’s based out of one of their Cambridge stores, but they do travel. I know they’ve done events and festivals in Wellesley & Weston.

  9. I only go once a week and since I’m in Marblehead that’s the one I go to. From what you’re saying it seems that there are no town signs and you need that. Signs, signs, signs. They act as reminders for the locals and inform those just visiting or driving through who may not know that it exists or where it is. I love finding a Farmer’s Market when I’m in an unfamiliar town! So sorry to hear that attendance is low this year…. and I’m glad you guys reached out like this. I hope it makes a difference.

  10. This is our first year living in Swampscott and we were incredibly excited to find out we have a local market! We go every weekend that we are in town, but we do find that we end up leaving with relatively little every week. The fact that the produce vendors are at the end of their week, meaning they have little stock and are often out unless you arrive right for opening, is a problem. While there are more produce vendors than at the beginning of the summer, it would be great to see more variety among the produce. More crafts, more breweries/wineries/cideries, maybe a food truck. I loved the music this past weekend. Maybe a designated play area for kids.

    Other kinds of vendors I have seen that would be great include cheese, chocolate, pasta, candy, oysters, Popsicles, ice cream, lemonade…the more variety, the more chances to try something new!

    I understand the chicken/egg problem in saying there needs to be more of everything, as the market has to show vendors it is successful in order to attract all of these additional vendors I am suggesting. But to really be successful, I think it is important that patrons leave feeling they got a good deal and made a good use of their time, rather than just leaving feeling good about supporting the local market.

  11. We are in town, but its easier to go to MHD on Saturday mornings and get our shopping done. There are more produce vendors there and it starts earlier in the morning. We love grant and clarke, but its nice to have other options and variety. Personally, we like to get our shopping done on Saturday and have the rest of the weekend to enjoy other activities. I think to be competitive, it should either start very early in the day, or move it to the afternoon to catch those shoppers who prefer that time, and missed the MHD market.

  12. Hello, Honestly, I think it’s just lack of communication. I don’t think everyone in town knows. We have friends who just moved here and they live right near the high school and didn’t know. I would hate to see it close.

    Perhaps advertise in the reporter, or on the love of swampscott Facebook page. Maybe more kids activities to entice families to go.

  13. For our family, its the timing of the market that makes our attendance flakey. As suggested above already, I frequent the Salem Farmers market because it is the perfect afternoon, wind-down to dinner activity for us. They always have music, something kid friendly (awesome balloon dude is there a lot) and I feel the timing not only serves the many stay-at-home caregivers of small children in our and neighboring communities, but makes it easy for after work folks to also attend the market. Sundays at 10 – are just tough. We have church and my husband only has the weekends off. After church, we are usually ready to head out for an adventure, and sadly, it often doesn’t include shopping. With that said, each time we have attended, its been a great experience. I love the food truck idea 🙂

    • Hi Patricia, thank you for the feedback! When does church start? We have also had lots of feedback that people would like us to make the market earlier in the morning, would an earlier start time allow you to stop by before?

  14. It’s a bit more of an undertaking but what about considering an additional or alternative market date? Maybe on a Wednesday or Thursday in the afternoon to early evening. We like to go to the farmers market for nice weekend meals and an earlier day during the week would help towards that end. It would also avoid some of the scheduling conflicts that other posters mentioned.

  15. I know this is a late reply to this thread, but I wanted to chime in. I try to go every Sunday that I am not working. I love that there are more produce vendors–that is what a Farmer’s Market is for, in my opinion. The reason I don’t get excited is that the produce is not always fresh, and yet it is even more expensive than Whole Foods. I don’t mind paying for good quality stuff, and I just love fresh produce. But it is so disappointing to get home and share my lovely green beans from the market, only to have my friend comment after one bite about how old they tasted. The same with the corn on the cob I bought a few weeks ago. I know some of the vendors say they have been at markets for up to 4 days, and so it seems that much of what they are selling was likely picked 5 days prior. I went today, and found some nice fresh stuff, but other things like corn and beans were, quite frankly, old and dried out.
    What I would love to see more of are bakers. There was only one today, I think. Fresh baked goods are as wonderful as fresh produce. An early morning start, with coffee and pastries would certainly draw people out!

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