Farmers’ Market 2.0

What do you do when your business isn’t performing as well as you think it should? If you’re marketing specialist Peter Rogovin, head of the Pleasantville Farmers’ Market, you look at what successful businesses like yours have done. Which is exactly what he did two years ago when the town’s farmers’ market just wasn’t the cream of the crop. And in one year, Rogovin and his committee transformed their market from a curbside stop-and-go destination into an all-day local hotspot.

    In 2009, Rogovin recruited friends and family to help him figure out what to do. Each friend and relative found niches and the research began. Rogovin also used Google to compile a list of nearly 20 successful American markets. He called their managers to ask what worked for them. “It turned out that it wasn’t that complicated,” he says. “They all do a lot of the same things and we did none of those things.”

    For instance, all of the successful markets included live music, good sight lines away from vehicles, children’s activities, and places to sit. And, instead of carefully experimenting with some of these factors, Rogovin’s committee pushed to be aggressive and implement all the changes at once. “We thought we were going to be riding a putt-putt scooter, and we came out in a Formula One,” says Kat Nemec, one of the market’s advisors.

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   The village agreed to give the market more space, a seating area, and to help change the traffic patterns. The market decided to feature local chefs, free music, and children’s entertainers. Attendance jumped more than 254 percent in one year.

    “It became a community destination instead of just going to shop, get things, and hustle and bustle while weaving in and out of cars,” says Rogovin. Statistics showed that the transformation kept more than 90 percent of customers coming back at least twice a month. In fact, almost no one has spent less time or money since the change. “It’s all about the community in the end,” Rogovin says.

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