A recent survey confirmed what Cranbrook Farmer's Market organizers always speculated; the market is a boon for the local economy.
The weekly markets have now earned themselves the nickname of the Million Dollar Market after a survey conducted by the B.C. Association of Farmer's Markets found that consumers inject an estimated $1 million into the local economy annually.
On a rainy Saturday, July 14, the BCAFM conducted a formal survey, asking market goers to stick a dot on a flip chart to answer five questions. Erna Jensen-Shill, market manager, said everyone enjoyed the format and was happy to participate.
"Everybody seemed to love coming up and putting their dot on the flip chart," she said. "It seems to come out quite well."
In all, 420 people responded and a count of attendees was done. It revealed that 1,716 people attended the market that day, and about 41,000 people visit the market annually. Jensen-Shill said it was a bit of a slow day with the rain, and was happy to hear so many people attended anyway.
About 30 per cent indicated they come out regularly. The survey only reflects the weekly Saturday markets, not the Wednesday night markets.
"We know that we have a good group of supporters," Jensen-Shill said.
It appears the market is growing by the week, with 22 per cent indicating it was their first time at the market. Jensen-Shill said it means people may be traveling in, or stopping by as tourists.
Jensen-Shill said the survey proved what they had informally concluded.
"We've been wanting to get a handle on some of the numbers," she said. "It was a really great opportunity."
When the BCAFM offered up the chance to participate in the province-wide survey, the Cranbrook market organizers jumped at the chance. They were able to utilize the expertise of the association's staff, instead of conducting their own survey. Cranbrook's results will later be compared to those across the province, but the preliminary results are of greatest use to the local organizers.
"It will not only give us a snapshot of our market in the community, but also how we fit in with markets across the province," Jensen-Shill said.
For Jensen-Shill and her fellow organizers, the biggest eye opener was the Million Dollar Market declaration. The survey asked what each market-goer spends on average, and found that each person happily shells out about $22 each.
But that wasn't all the survey found - it also determined that those consumers are spreading into the downtown core and spending about $21 on average at neighbouring businesses. The survey found about $660,000 is being spent at local businesses.
"It's not only the farmer's market but we're also impacting the businesses in the area," Jensen-Shill said.
The market organizers had heard from business owners in Cranbrook that they had indeed seen a spike in traffic on market days, but now the official confirmation is there.
The survey asked respondents when they first visited the market, and 33 per cent replied that they had been attending for three to four years - meaning they may have started coming when the market first began. But others, 21 per cent, indicated they had just started attending this year.
Jensen-Shill said the new information allows them to plan their marketing.
"Who should we be inviting to the market that hasn't been yet?" she said.
One thing Jensen-Shill was happy to see was the number of people who come to the market for the community and ambience. Many responded that the fresh produce was their biggest draw, but 28.8 per cent said the community was the reason they keep coming back.
"We see crowds of folks hoarding the peas and the carrots. As soon as they get to the market they're there buying that stuff," Jensen-Shill said. "(But) people are really interested in community and cultural experiences."
With the survey results in hand, Jensen-Shill said the society can now move on with their winning formula. The results of the province-wide study aren't due until at least late fall, as the survey is still working its way to farmer's markets all over B.C.
The Cranbrook Farmer's Market runs every Saturday until Oct. 6, and there are two night markets coming up on August 8 and 22. Visit www.cranbrookfarmersmarket.com for more information.