Kendra Steiner Editions (Bill Shute)

September 8, 2019

Support Your Local Farmers Market

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 5:41 pm

farmers market

It’s easy to drive past the local Farmers Market while applauding it in spirit. Family farms are not what they were 75 or even 25 years ago. The ones that do survive have in many cases moved toward specialized produce/fruit/farm products, thinking (probably correctly) that niche markets are the only place that real competition can take place. Yes, some supermarket chains (our Texas-based H.E.B. being an example) do work with family farms in their areas, and that’s admirable, but it’s often not possible to know the details of what’s going on there without being somewhere in the supply chain yourself.

A much better way to support these small business-people is to buy their products at local markets. For many years, we had a Farmers Market down the street from our home, but it was on a weekday in the middle of the day, and I was at work before it started until after it ended. Now, however, for the last six-eight months we’ve had one about a mile away that runs each Sunday, and it makes me happy to see how popular it has become. It’s hard to find a parking space close by, which is a good sign of robust business. Beyond the merchants selling locally grown vegetables and fruit, we have bakers, olive oil merchants (our area is good for olive growing), people selling salsas and jellies, people selling homemade juices and kombucha, even a family selling Filipino food cooked on a grill before your eyes. And the merchants vary from week to week.

Here in San Antonio, there must be at least 10-12 Farmers Markets each week, and when you count the outlying areas such as New Braunfels or Boerne or Spring Branch or Seguin, it’s probably a few dozen.

I have always been one to support the small business, the family business…the neighborhood Mexican restaurant or pizzeria, the food truck, the artist selling copies of their own CD at the local bar/club. Someone is living their dream through this kind of endeavor, and the difference between keeping afloat financially and sinking might well be a handful or people stopping in, instead of going to a supermarket or a corporate operation. It often costs more, but nobody’s getting rich off a food truck selling smoked sausage in a homemade tortilla, or selling raspas from a trailer during the summer, or selling duck eggs from their farm in some parking lot on the weekends.

As someone who has run various small businesses over the years, I know that I have appreciated EVERY person who spent their hard-earned money on a product I produced…but for me, it’s always been a sideline. For some of these folks, it is their main source of income. Their rent and electric bill and car insurance being paid is dependent upon my/our making the choice to seek out independent merchants and small businesses. It’s a choice we can take the time to make as consumers (obviously, many products can NOT be gotten in this manner….I’m well aware of that), and as they say whenever you fly Southwest Airlines, “we know you always have a choice.” I have to remind myself sometimes, if I’m feeling lazy or cheap some burned-out afternoon, to go out of my way to support the small merchant, but I’m happy and satisfied when I do. And the products are so delicious!

Oh…and when you buy that loaf of rosemary bread or those links of pecanwood-smoked venison sausage, try to pay with cash and not a card. The rates small merchants are forced to pay on small transactions are brutal, usually around 5% AND a fee. Many don’t want to have the policy you see at small mom’n’pop convenience stores where you can’t use a card for a purchase of under $5 or $10 and antagonize customers or create a negative vibe, but I can tell you that many small merchants will not even break even after the card fees are paid. We certainly don’t want to put any more money into the banking conglomerates’ hands, especially when it comes out of the pockets of the small business person.

Some reviewer once called the KSE label/press a “cottage industry,” and I was honored!

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