As we find ourselves free-falling into the holiday shopping season, there are unspoken rules in the retail world. You expect to haggle with the salesman at a car dealership, you don’t expect service at the fitting room at Bealls Outlet, and you expect to be asked your name at Starbucks. Well, farmers markets have their own set of unwritten rules and customer expectations, too.
The Fernandina Beach Market Place is a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning outdoors with friends and family, and we know that shopping a crowded market can be challenging at times. By knowing a few do’s-and-don’ts you can tremendously enhance your farmers market shopping experience.
-Try to understand that fresh produce is seasonal. You won’t find blueberries in December or fresh radish in June.
-Come prepared with re-usable shopping bags or perhaps a rolling cooler. Use one bag for wet products or frozen, and another bag to hold your dry goods.
-Ask questions of the vendors. Farmers love to talk about their haul, and bakers enjoy telling you how to reheat that pastry.
-Visit the market management booth, to ask questions, or to receive your free copy of “edible” a Northeast Florida foodie magazine, while supplies last.
-Bring small bills to the farmers market. Vendors find it difficult to provide change when they are hit with $20 bill after $20 bill for a $3.00 item.
-Spread the word. The Market Place has no advertising budget, so please bring a friend, tag and like us on facebook, or talk about the market while you are at work or other social events.
-Come to the market on hot, cold or rainy days – fruits and vegetables don’t mind inclimate weather. We are open rain or shine and the vendors have already baked, picked, or packaged your favorites.
-Bring a blanket to spread on the lawn and listen to the music while noshing on a new treat.
-Return your clean jars, many vendors offer a discount if you recycle.
-If you are unhappy with a purchase, return it. At the farmers market you often get to deal with the owner, president and CEO.
-Engage in long conversations with the vendors when they are busy.
-Arrive before the market opens; we are open from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
-Please do not let your children eat all of the samples. A variety of exhibitors set out samples for you to taste and encourage sales, not to feed your family lunch.
-We are a friendly market, and you will likely run into friends, but please do not block the flow of traffic if possible.
-Do not drive your vehicle onto North Seventh Street. The road is closed to the public at 7:00 a.m.; the road is closed to ALL vehicular traffic (including vendors) at 8:30 a.m.
-Don’t ask for the “secret recipe” of pies, sauces, or other dishes, the vendors won’t give away their secrets.
-Please don’t overly handle the produce. Would you want to buy a tomato that was squeezed by 20 people before you bought it?
-Don’t expect discounts at closing time. Many of the vendors have outlets to sell their remaining produce after the market, but also, it doesn’t hurt to ask.
-Do not double-dip the samples.
-Don’t be in a hurry. One of the charms of Fernandina Beach is our slower paced lifestyle.
Pet etiquette: (The market welcomes well behaved and leashed pets.)
-Keep your pets on a leash that is nominal in length so you don’t trip other patrons of the Market Place.
-Take advantage of the bowls of water for your pets provided at the market management booth.
-Our pet product vendors often offer samples, let your pet try them.
-Do not let your pets put their paws on exhibitor tables.
-Do clean up after your pet. Dog waste bags, paper towels, water, and hand sanitizer are available at the market management booth.
-Please keep an eye on your male dogs so they don’t pee on the corner of the tablecloths.
-Don’t let your dog express aggressive, or overly playful, behavior within the market area.
-Be courteous of others. While many in our community like pets and animals more than children, believe it or not, there are some who will not like yours.
We want you to find your local farmers market to be a great resource, and we truly appreciate our community and the support it has shown to our vendors. If you have a farmers market favorite, please let the vendor know. They work hard, in all kinds of weather, to provide you with healthy, tasty, and locally sourced products. Big box and grocery stores are impersonal in nature and we hope you will find great pleasure in getting to know the folks who grow and produce the foods you will find at the Fernandina Beach Market Place.
Open 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. every Saturday of the year, rain or shine, please visit FernandinaBeachMarketPlace.com for more information.