Hey there, it’s great to see you! It’s been a while since we’ve chatted and we thought it was about time to pick up where we left off. The last time we talked, we had just re-opened after the world stopped. A lot has happened since then, as we’re sure it has in your world too.
So what’s been happening? Well, lots actually! If you’ve been to the Market this year, you know that we’ve been very busy. We have had to the opportunity to welcome many new vendors. In fact, we are more full than we ever have been. We opened the dome earlier than ever. We had so many vendors that we chose to offer the option to open the dome to vendors that wished to attend. If you’re new to the NGFM, you may not know that we operate out of two buildings – the Market building and the Dome. The dome was our original building that opened in 2008. It is a seasonal structure that is essentially a big dome shaped tent (we’re super original in our naming). The dome isn’t insulated but we installed some heaters a few years back that helped to extend our shoulder seasons – still, no one will mistake it for the tropics.
We used to open the dome in April, then we bumped it up to March. Last year we needed to open it for the Valentine’s day Market and then for the season at the end of February and this year, thanks to a milder and less precipitous winter, we opened it for the season January 28th! We had to close it due to cold a couple of times but for the most part, we were able to accommodate most vendors that wished to attend.
One of the things that changed for us in the last couple of years is the way we fundraise. For those who don’t know, we are a Non-profit Co-operative. We rely on vendor table fees, membership fees and fundraising to offset operating costs and keep fees low for vendors. We are completely volunteer run with the exception of one employee, the Market Manager (that’s me). Pre-COVID, we used to host events to help with fundraising but like everyone else, we’ve had to change how we do things. Events are increasingly expensive (and the purpose is to fundraise) and they take lots of resources, most notably human ones. During COVID, we were able to carry products and support vendors that were not normally able to attend the market for a number of reasons. Mostly complicated logistics like location, travel and lack of staff can be barriers for attendance. Once we opened back up, we wanted a way to continue to offer these products to our customers and continue to support these producers. The NGFM General Store was born.
First, let’s talk about this sign! Our sign was handcrafted by vendor, Heather’s Hands.
The NGFM General Store is located in the dome, to the left of the Coffee Shoppe when you come in. It’s a compliment to the Ice Cream and Coffee Shoppe. All of this is run by the Market and staffed by volunteers. It’s been running quietly for over a year now and you’re going to hear more about it soon so we thought it was time for a formal introduction. The Market store started with ice cream and coffee a couple of years ago and we’ve slowly added other items in. Of course this is also where you purchase Market Money.
You will find a selection of various products and we are always growing it. Due to the temperature fluctuations and space restrictions in the dome, we aren’t able to carry a huge variety of products and the products we carry must be frozen, refrigerated or temperature stable.
The goal of the store is to provide products that we don’t currently have in the Market and they will all support small producers. Every product purchased not only supports the producer, but raises funds for the Market too.
One of the products we started with is locally roasted coffee and coffee syrups from Aroma Maya Coffee in Truro.
We have also brought in seeds, natural fertilizer from a local llama farmer (great for you plants and garden, btw). We also have a fridge and freezer. You may remember Afishionado from online, you’ll still find select products in our freezer. We also have pure apple cider from the Valley from Suprima Farms and we have Sam’s Pizza and pizza sauce for your convenience too.
One of the roles of the Market is to act as an incubator for small businesses that make, bake or grow their own product. It’s a great way for vendors to get their product to market quickly while growing their business at the same time. Many times, vendors graduate the market and move into wholesale or their own retail store but they still want to have that market connection with you, their customers. This is where the store comes in. As an example, Big Cove Foods recently graduated, but you can still find their products at the store. When you purchase their spices, your supporting them and the market, a win-win! This means you can still find their awesome products at the NGFM and they stay connected to you – and us!
We also have Market Merch. Tote bags, handcrafted pottery mugs, travel mugs, buttons and more. Some of these are our own NGFM Merch. For example, our travel mugs (which are ah-mazing, if we do say so ourselves) come from Summer Street Industries. So you’re supporting them when you buy one too! And because we love these so much, we’re going to sidetrack and tell you that these keep your drink super hot for hours, even in temps as cold as the dome in January! If it’s really hot outside and you have a cold drink, we’ve still had ice in there 24 hours later. Good investment and it comes with a free hot beverage fill from the coffee shoppe!
Other Merch of ours comes from FMNS (Farmers Markets of Nova Scotia). The canvas tote bags supports our Nourishing Communities Program which supports food insecure households in our community. Another win-win!
The ultimate goal is to have a Market store that can accommodate all kinds of products that supports producers. It would be open for select hours more than just Saturdays. We would be able to assist local farmers with getting their products to market on more than just Saturdays. We would be more accessible to our Nourishing Communities households and lowering additional barriers to local food security for more people in our community. There’s so much more to say on this, but this is a start! And this is just the beginning.
The NGFM General Store is more than just a store. It’s our new fundraising. Any purchase you make with us either from the store or from the coffee and ice cream shoppe supports others. It supports vendors by helping us to offset our costs and keep their fees down. It helps the producers whose products we carry by keeping them connected and introducing their products to new customers and it helps our customers with added selection. Not only that, it will help us to grow the model and increase our triple bottom line – people (that’s you & our small businesses), profit (that’s our fundraising) and planet (farmers markets are already super environmentally friendly and this model helps too).