Market’s business ‘getting better’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 26, 1999

Natchez’s downtown farmer’s market is off to a slow start.

But the Main Street Marketplace manager and two vendors who have spent just about every day there in the two weeks the market opened say more vendors is all it needs to continue growing.

&uot;Business is getting better,&uot; manager Pat Bacon said. &uot;We need more vendors.&uot;

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Bacon said things have picked up since the market held its grand opening Oct. 7.

The market is a joint venture of the City of Natchez, Alcorn State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A USDA rural enterprise grant got the $250,000 project started. But with the slow season for produce, few vendors have found their way to the market so far.

Anthony Scroggins, who works for Buddy Miller’s Plantation Pecans in Waterproof, La., has been selling just about every day the market has been open. He said business has been good, but it would be better if there were more vendors.

The Plantation Pecans booth has averaged about $200 a day, he said. The booth sells pecans, pecan pies, candies, jams, smoked meats and produce.

Rodger Colburn drives down from Utica each day to sell framed pictures at the market. He said the booth price is a little steep for a new market.

Day rentals for a 10-foot by 10-foot space cost $25, and weekly rentals are $40. Monthly rentals are $90 and yearly rentals are $1,110, which Bacon said averaged about $3 a day.

But Colburn said selling at the market has barely been worth his while so far.

&uot;I’m lucky if I’ve made $200 (in two weeks)&uot; he said.

Both Colburn and Scroggins said business would likely be brisker in the summer, when more vendors have produce to sell at the market.

&uot;This is a good thing for Natchez,&uot; Scroggins said. &uot;I hope it stays in business because this is a pretty good location.&uot;

And Natchez’s partnership with Alcorn is part of a growing trend across the United States.

At the market’s grand opening, USDA Associate Adminstrator Wilbur Peer said farmer’s markets are cropping up in many towns and cities as people look for fresh fruits and vegetables.

The Main Street Marketplace is also only the third farmer’s market in the state to be part of the WIC/Farmer’s Market Nutrition program.

It gives vouchers to those who participate in the Women, Infant and Child program to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmer’s market.

The market is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.