Farmer’s Market credits community connection for record number of vendors

The Prince Albert Farmer's Market is open in the Gateway Mall from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. (Prince Albert Farmer's Market/Facebook)

“By moving into the Gateway Mall and gaining some traction, it really just seemed to expand out and diversify.”

The Prince Albert Farmer’s Market is in a phase of major expansion with more than double the amount of vendors this winter than last year.

Board member Byron Tenkink said they currently have 38 vendors containing a mix of not just local food producers, but also artisans. He said typically the winter market doesn’t have more than about 14 vendors at a time. Even in the summer season, a normal number of vendors lies between 25 and 30.

“Historically, the P.A. Farmer’s Market has had mostly just sort of a holdover people with extra vegetables that keep through the winter, so lots of potatoes, beets, root crops and then a few artisans here and there, but this year by moving into the Gateway Mall and gaining some traction, it really just seemed to expand out and diversify,” said Tenkink.

He mostly credits the growth to developing their online presence.

This is the first year the Farmer’s Market has dedicated someone to handling its Facebook, Instagram, website and advertisement—that person just so happens to be Tenkink’s wife.

“I’m personally very proud,” he said. “(It’s) the power of staying connected with customers.”

Tenkink said sometimes the volunteer-run market had difficulty updating regular customers on hours and locations. Since the winter market set up in the old Sportchek location in the Gateway Mall a few years ago, they’ve had a stable number of customers every week.

He said they also get a fair amount of new customers coming from the mall.

“There’s woodworking, there’s knitting, there’s Mennonite food and Indian food, both hot and preserved, and then there’s some prepared food as well. There’s keto-friendly. There’s a lot of really intricate, unique gifts, locally-made for the Christmas season,” he added.

“As far as being able to pool all of our local really talented artisans all together under one roof, it’s just been fantastic as far as finding Christmas gifts.”

In addition to an expanded number of artisans, he said many local producers are selling what they’re growing indoors, such as fresh herbs.

One of the benefits to shopping local, explained Tenkink, is that you can meet the person who made what you’re buying and ask them about their business.

“It’s a great place to buy stuff, but it is also a great place to sell stuff,” he emphasized.

Although the Farmer’s Market is currently at maximum capacity, Tenkink encourages vendors to contact them about their summer market. He said it’s also an effective way to explore entrepreneurship.

He said customer traffic does tend to slow down after the Christmas season, but the majority of vendors stick around into the new year.

The winter market is open every Saturday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., but they are taking a break for Christmas.

The last market before Christmas takes place on Dec. 21, and then they’ll start up again on Jan. 18 until April. The summer market kicks off in May and runs until October.