Dallas Farmer’s Market Provides Something for Everyone

April 5, 2010  

By Natalie Blankenship
nblankensh@smu.edu

Most people head down to Dallas’ Farmer’s Market expecting to see buckets full of brilliantly colored fruits and vegetables while farmers offer up slices of their locally grown pineapple and cantaloupe. Who knew you could also go to the market and pick up a piece of jewelry or walk away with a mosaic mirror just shipped in from Mexico?

Located on 1010 South Pearl Expressway, the farmer’s market has an enclosed shed tucked away near the back for items other than fresh produce or plants. Inside the 26,000-square-foot, newly-remodeled building, shoppers can find just about anything: A counter stocked with silver jewelry imported from Taxco, Mexico; A store with aroma therapy candles, soaps, scrubs and body sprays; An African store with T-shirts, wood products, leather products and oils; A store selling Mexican imported mirrors, paintings and pottery; A counter selling glass products; and even a sausage company.

New vendors are appearing, but old vendors will remain selling their products. Restaurants are being built as the building moves towards hosting more food and food related vendors.

Stephanie Heard, an employee of a soap shop called Abundantly Aromatic, believes that the city is doing a lot to get more customers to the market.

“They’re doing a lot of marketing and getting a lot of new vendors our here to make it grow, so the more people out here, the better the business is,” Heard said.

The idea of enclosing part of the market and adding air conditioning and heat unit happened about three years ago. At first, vendors ranged from soap to silver. The shed is currently about three quarters full, but is growing rapidly. Food vendors and restaurants predominately fill the indoor portion, but vendors like Silver Springs Design have been there for 16 years and are here to stay, said Dallas Farmer’s Market customer service employee Liz Scoggin. Soon, the building will have a Greek restaurant, a Bar-B-Q catering company and other food venues, Scoggin said.

The Dallas Farmer’s Market opened as a city owned and operated market in 1941. It underwent a $15 million renovation in the 1990′s, which included a new resource center and the indoor shed, according to the Dallas Farmer’s Market Friends Web site. The Dallas Farmer’s Market Friends organization works to raise money for development and promotion of the Dallas Farmer’s Market, according to their Facebook page.

Owner of Silver Springs Design, Audrey McGarity has been importing and selling silver jewelry out of the Dallas Farmer’s Market with her husband Johnny McGarity for 16 years. She became interested in selling jewelry after her daughter moved to Taxco, Mexico, otherwise known as the “Silver Town,” to be a silversmith and an artist.

The McGaritys spent nearly 13 years selling silver jewelry out of an open-air shed at the market alongside the fresh produce. They had garage-type pull-down doors with no heating or air conditioning.

“It was kind of rustic in here,” McGarity said.

Some SMU students don’t realize that the farmer’s market is a quick 10 minute drive from campus. Others are unaware that items other than fruits and vegetables are sold. A Plano resident, sophomore Steven Kitt says he went when he was very young but all he remembers seeing are stands with different farmers selling their produce. Kitt was surprised when he learned that artisan items, jewelry and other items non-food related are sold at the farmer’s market.

SMU sophomore Idean Saki says he has never been to the market, but he’s heard from his classmates that it’s a great place to go to pick up cheap locally grown fruits and vegetables.

George Jackson, a sophomore attending  Richland College in Dallas, lives in an apartment building so close to the market that he can actually see it from his window. Jackson said that he goes to the farmer’s market frequently to buy his groceries and to browse the indoor shed. It’s very uncommon for college students to go to the market, Jackson said.

“No one my age goes there,” he said.

When Jackson first stumbled upon the indoor shed, he was drawn in by the local free range meat and the knife sharpeners.

“It reminded me of going to horse shows and going to the exhibits, they have all the same artisan stuff,” he said.

Because the enclosed shed is going to be mostly food related, McGarity is looking on the bright side and hoping the restaurants will bring them more customers as well.

“We’re hoping it’s going to help everybody,” McGarity said. “I think it’s going to get better.”

According to Heard, owner of Abundantly Aromatic, Renee Mitchell makes all of her products in her kitchen and in her garage. She has been at the market for about eight years, but has sold her homemade products out of her home for even longer. Her business has continued to grow with her booth at the farmer’s market, a booth in Coppell and a recent contract to have her merchandise at Central Market, Heard said.

Sometimes it’s difficult for small businesses at the market to advertise. Abundantly Aromatic has both a Web site and a page on Facebook. Not only do they have their business name online, but they also have a more efficient way to bring business in.

“Her products are just repeat customers coming back,” Heard said. “It sells itself, basically.”

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Comments

One Response to “Dallas Farmer’s Market Provides Something for Everyone”

  1. Sol Calinao on April 15th, 2010 10:50 am

    Just wanted to clarify that pineapples are not locally grown, but you will find them in Shed 3 under the produce Dealer Shed- these vendors resell refrigerated produce, including food shipped from out of state. These include Florida oranges, California grapes, Washington cherries, Mexican avocados and much more. In the height of the local produce season, they may also buy and resell locally-grown produce.

    And just a reminder, the DFM will be conducting cooking demonstrations every Saturday from May 22, 2010 to October 9, 2010!