I am writing on behalf of the Millbrook Farmers’ Market Management Committee to express our concern about a proposal by Mayor Scott McFadden for the BIA to host a farmers’ market downtown on Friday evenings in July and August to capture cottage-bound traffic.
While this may sound appealing, from a business perspective it is not feasible. First, it is highly questionable whether cottagers would divert to Millbrook. There are numerous farmers’ markets throughout cottage country. Second, there is simply not enough demand in our small township to support two markets. We are a growing, but small population base with finite spending dollars. If another market is introduced, those finite dollars are then split and eventually neither market is viable. Then we all lose.
We tried adding more markets during the summer a few years ago, but found that overall sales did not increase, while vendors were doing double the work. We subsequently went back to our monthly schedule. (We were initially approached to participate in the Friday markets, but declined for this reason.)
If our vendors lose sales to a weekly downtown market, they may leave. When vendors leave, shoppers leave and the downward spiral begins. July and August is harvest season, our busiest time. Our vendors rely on these two markets in particular to pull in the bulk of their sales for the season. There are also potential supply issues as many vendors also sell at Peterborough markets.
It is worth remembering that there have been many attempts to create a market in our township, none of which were sustainable. We now have a model that is working exceedingly well. We ask that Council and the BIA carefully consider the ramifications of this proposal. To the community, we ask that if you share our concerns and wish to see the integrity of the Millbrook Farmers’ Market preserved, please let our Council and BIA members know. Thank you.