The Bulkley Valley Farmers’ Market (BVFM) is looking for new members.
As part of a vendor recruitment program, the market set up a Vendor Recruitment Committee in the spring of 2018.
The purpose of the committee, which is made up of vendors who have been involved in the market for several years, is to find and implement strategies for recruiting future vendors and retaining current ones.
“The area outside the museum, we used to fill that whole parking lot and there were people waiting to get in. Now we’re down to just the core of the market and we would like more people to come and experience the thrill of meeting everybody and selling things,” said recruitment committee member Betty Campbell.
This year, the committee was successful in an application for grant funds to hire Ally Dick as a coordinator for the program.
Her role includes reaching out to potential vendors, answering questions about the market and supporting new vendors with vending at the market.
She will also be compiling a report and survey made up of previous, current and potential future vendors to determine optimal strategies for growing the market.
For her part Dick said the BVFM, which has been running for over 20 years, is an essential part of the community.
“The market is important for our local economy and also a great gathering place for locals and tourists to purchase locally made produce and crafts, get hot food and listen to live music.”
She added that the market is a proven platform for small businesses in the area (provided they make, bake or grow their product, a requirement of the market).
“We are currently running a promotion for first-time vendors where your first Farmers’ Market stall rental is half price, [as well as] two free canopy rentals,” she said.
“The Vendor Recruitment Coordinator can also help promote your business through social media and connect you with long time vendors as a casual mentorship program.”
Mark Fisher is the Electoral Area A Director for the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN).
He has also been a vendor at the market for approximately 15 years, selling various produce — namely assorted flowers, garlic and squash — over those years.
And while he noted that market-level businesses will likely not be a sufficient full-time source of income, Fisher said that the market was essential in helping his own farming business flourish.
“If someone is trying to develop a product locally it allows you to test it out without having to get into all the logistics around getting into stores or exporting and stuff like that, so it lets you build your business slowly and test it out.
“If you provide a good product it’s word a word of mouth [thing]. That kind of model made sense to me and I’ve been selling ever since.”
He also attributes part of his success at the market — which can see up to 1,000 people — to its communal aspect.
“You’re selling directly to [customers] and they come back week after week, for the most part, so you can build that relationship and get honest feedback.
“It kind of is a little bit of community too. So you get the feedback from other vendors on what works [and] what doesn’t for marketing.”
But despite the nature of the market, Fisher noted that there is never really competition at the market, rather just a very responsive feedback system with regards to what one is selling, something he said helped his business in the long run, noting that over time he switched to specializing in three or four different products based on what others were already selling.
“We don’t say there’s competition but you do get to know the other vendors and what they’re specializing in and what they do well and then you can tailor your business — it’s really responsive.”
Dick said that people interested in vending at the BVFM or learning more about the program should contact her at 514-346-0514 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.