While it seems as though many area farmers’ markets are thriving, selling everything from fresh produce to homemade jellies and breads, not all have been a success.
Last spring, the Selbyville Farmers Market, which was located on the corner of Route 17 and Williams Street, was started by Jeannie Mariner, with the hopes of bringing a market to those in the town and the surrounding inland areas.
“My husband and I own the property there in Selbyville and were looking for something to do with it. We enjoy farmers’ markets. We go to them whenever we can. We thought, ‘Well, Selbyville doesn’t have a farmers’ market. We should give it a shot.’ That’s what we did.”
Although the market was successful in the beginning, Mariner said it couldn’t compete with the beach-area markets for vendors’ attention in the summer months.
“We had quite a few vendors at the beginning, and it was going quite well. And then, as soon as the beach markets opened, the vendors started trickling away. A lot of them would send someone to the beach market and to my market,” she said, noting that some vendors were kind enough to stay with the market through the end of its season.
“There was so much more foot traffic at the beach markets, we just couldn’t compete. It didn’t make sense for them to sit in Selbyville and make $100 or $200 a day when they could make $1,000 at the beach markets.”
Mariner said that the market, at its peak, had more than 30 vendors. At its low, it only had five.
Mariner said that, once a longtime produce stand on the highway opened for the summer, many of the remaining market-goers stopped frequenting the farmers’ market, as well.
Due to the inconsistency of vendors and the loss of customers, Mariner said she and her husband decided to not reopen the market for the 2013 season.
“It was a shame,” she said. “There were quite a few people who were there every week that really seemed to enjoy it. It’s a lot of work, so we decided we would shut it down. We gave it a try, and it didn’t work there.”
Mariner said that she believes a market would work in the spring or fall, but she doesn’t plan to try to start one again. However, she said she wouldn’t be opposed to letting someone else use the property for a market.
“There just weren’t enough vendors through the summer to keep us going,” she said. “It’s one of those things — you try it and see if it works. If it doesn’t work, you move on.”