By Lindsey Adkison
The Brunswick News, Ga.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Artists and entrepreneurs at the St. Simons Island market say the physical location gives them a place to interact with customers and get feedback on designs, in addition to making sales…something they say they can’t always do online.
The Brunswick News, Ga.
Gina Patrick shielded her eyes from the bright sun as she organized her products on the table. The owner of Virgin Apothecary, a natural skin care company based on St. Simons Island, was one of dozens of local entrepreneurs selling her wares at a recent farmer’s market held at the Sea Island Market on St. Simons Island.
“I’ve been really busy today,” she said at the last market before Christmas. “People were asking for things before we opened so that’s great.”
It’s something that Patrick feels has been incredibly beneficial for her since joining the event in September.
“It’s been really great because now people know where to find me. We do have a website and a web presence but this is a place where I can meet people and we can have a face to face interaction. It’s been great,” she said.
That’s the consensus shared by all of the vendors who frequent the Market. The gatherings which are held the second Saturday of each month allow artisans, many of whom don’t have hefty marketing budgets, a space to connect with the public. While most operate Etsy accounts or online stores, they say the face to face interaction proves to be valuable.
For Barbara Northrup, a photographer who has created an eco-friendly clothing brand called Inspire Active Wear, the market gives her a place to interact with customers and get feedback on her designs, in addition to making sales.
“The market has been really great for me. I do very well here,” Northrup said. “But one of the best things for me is being able to see people and talk to them about the patterns. I get feedback on what they like and what they don’t. There’s not too much negative feedback but it’s good to talk to customers. I’ve been well received but it’s good to connect.”
That’s the goal of the Farmer’s Market, which is operated by the Sea Island. Their vision is to offer local vendors, especially those without brick and mortar locations, a place to showcase their wares.
For Clint and Nina Brady, owners of Adrians Wood, the opportunity to have a booth there has completely changed the dynamic of their business.
“It has done wonders for us. All of the contacts we made here helped me to leave my job after 17 years,” Nina Brady said.
Carissa Clark, general manager of The Market at Sea Island, said that the success of their vendors is always at the forefront of her mind when she selects participants. Clark chooses merchants based on what they offer and how it works into the Market’s landscape, as well as how it jives with the other merchants.
“They apply to participate and send their applications to me. I look at what they offer and determine whether or not it would be a good fit. We don’t want too much jewelry vendors or too much skin care, we like to offer a good mix,” Clark said.
“We also like to plan where we put people so that we don’t have too many people selling the same thing next to one another.”
The business benefits of the farmer’s market are two fold. First, the vendors are able to sell their goods and develop a following. Secondly, it draws in more shoppers who might not be familiar with the Sea Island Market, the store and deli, that plays host to the Farmer’s Market. The event takes place in its parking lot.
Since beginning the line-up has grown substantially, now including anywhere between 28 to 41 vendors. While exposure and the sales are key, there is another element of the farmer’s market that is equally helpful. That is the connections the vendors make with one another.
Hannah Boggs, a jewelry designer and the owner of BEEInspired Shoppe, brings her necklaces, bracelets as well as her essential oils to sell. While she’s only been participating for a couple of months, Boggs has already seen a positive shift.
“The market really helps to broaden our reach. I have an Etsy store but I don’t really get out to meet people and this is place where I can do that. I’m pretty new to the area, I’ve been here for a year so that’s been good,” Boggs said.
“But it’s also great to meet everyone else. The other artists are really supportive and very helpful. We all buy things from one another.”