How Farmer's Markets Grow Local Businesses

Pacific Northwest Region  - Aug. 7, 2018

u s small business administration

From the Regional Administrator
The Importance of Farmer's Markets to Rural Businesses, Local Economies

Jeremy Field

By Jeremy Field
SBA Regional Administrator, Pacific Northwest

When buying our favorite fruits and vegetables from the farmer’s market, we typically don’t have the economy in mind. But that is exactly what we’re helping grow when we shop at our local farmer’s market.

National Farmer’s Market Week is Aug. 5-11, 2018 and is an ideal time to reflect on the impact farmer’s markets have on the growth of small businesses.

First, dollars spent at farmer’s markets have a strong impact on the local economy.

For every $100 spent at a farmer's market 62% stays in the local economy.

According to the Farmer’s Market Coalition, for every $100 spent at a farmer’s market, 62 percent stays in the local economy. And, growers selling locally create 13 jobs per $1 million in revenue. Those are jobs created and retained in rural areas and small towns.
Plus, farmer’s markets provide a unique local supply chain. For example, Scratch and Peck Feeds in Burlington, Washington sells their organic feed to small businesses who then sell their eggs and meat at farmer’s markets. The supply chain continues at the market where rural and urban small business meet. Many restaurants source their ingredients from farmer’s market vendors, continuing the growth of all local small businesses.

Second, farmer’s markets provide startup space for new entrepreneurs and an opportunity to connect with customers.

Farmer’s markets are often the starting point for new entrepreneurs to test their product with potential local customers. I’d even venture to say they are the original startup space for entrepreneurs, providing a cost-effective way to test market a new product.

Jenny Tse, Sipping Streams Tea Company in Fairbanks, Alaska

Well-established businesses also see the value in farmer’s markets, like Sipping Streams Tea Company which can be found at the Tanana Valley Farmer’s Market in Fairbanks, Alaska every Wednesday and Friday. Whether launching a new product or growing an established business, farmer’s markets provide face-to-face interactions with customers unlike any other sales platform.

Third, the SBA powers the American dream and helps local businesses grow.

For 65 years, the SBA has empowered entrepreneurs by helping them start, grow, expand and recover. From microloans to help a business launch to technical assistance on business management, the SBA and its network of partners help many farmer’s market regulars grow.

Diana Ambauen-Meade, Scratch and Peck Feeds in Burlington, Washington

For example, Diana Ambauen-Meade of Scratch and Peck Feeds met with a SCORE mentor who provided her with the tools to measure her business’ financial health. That led her to the SBA Emerging Leaders program aimed to help growing small businesses get to the next level.

After receiving SCORE mentoring, Scratch and Peck annual sales grew from $1.2 million to $6.2 million in a four-year period; and, the number of full-time employees doubled from 10 to 20. Since completing the SBA Emerging Leaders program in 2016, annual sales grew to $8 million the following year plus an additional seven employees.

Another great example is Jenny Tse who worked with an adviser from the Alaska Small Business Development Center (SBDC) when she established Sipping Streams Tea Company. She used their assistance again as she looked to her entrepreneurial future.

“The SBDC in Fairbanks helped me reevaluate my business and its progress by analyzing my finances and its avenues of sales and demographics,” Tse said. “They also helped me update my business plan so I can see what steps I should take in moving my business to the next level.” 

In addition to our resource partners, the SBA is also working with USDA to power businesses in rural areas. Our goal is to increase lending in rural areas by five percent nationwide; and, to make services more accessible to farmers and rural businesses.

Join us in supporting rural small businesses by shopping at your local farmer’s market. 

Find Farmer's Markets   

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