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Farmers' markets offer different strokes for different folks
Date:2/19/2010

URBANA -- Farmers' markets are not created equal. Some sell only fresh produce while others offer entertainment and a wide variety of vendors. And each market's unique personality attracts some people while repelling others. A University of Illinois study revealed that based on what they offer, farmers' markets self-select people who are on a specific mission -- and visiting other retail stores isn't one of them.

"Not one of the six farmers' markets we visited in the city of Chicago and suburbs drew any business to any of the other retailers on the same day as the farmers' market," said U of I economist Michael Mazzocco. "That's not to say that there isn't an occasional person. But on the questionnaire we asked 'how many other retailers have you visited or will you visit on this trip?' and the answer was zero."

Mazzocco concluded that market organizers are mistaken if they are counting on a farmers' market to bring in more traffic in retail stores. "The farmers' markets may build awareness of other stores for future trips, but we did not investigate that."

So, what does bring people to the market?

"Each farmers' market attracts those who they subconsciously, inadvertently, want to attract," Mazzocco said. "For example, the Oak Park farmers' market is the only one where we found a majority of men, and a larger proportion of money than anywhere else we went was spent on food consumed on site. People were there to buy coffee and donuts, roam around downtown, and visit with their friends."

Mazzocco compared the mission of the Oak Park Saturday morning market shopper to those at Hyde Park on a Thursday afternoon. "The Oak Park stroll-around-with-coffee-and-donut is a mission. They tend to buy some produce while they are there. They might not. At Hyde Park, the mission is to get off the CTA on your way home from work, buy some produce and continue your route home. If you are stopping on your way home from work and you jus
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Contact: Debra Levey Larson
dlarson@illinois.edu
217-244-2880
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert

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