PLATTSBURGH - The weather may be getting colder outside, but inside, things are just warming up.
The weekly indoor farmers market at the City Recreation Center on the PARC Oval has been doing well since it first opened Nov. 18, said organizer Beth Spaugh, far exceeding her expectations, she said.
"October farmers markets around here have tended to be pretty quiet, even on Saturdays, so we didn't know if folks would come to an indoor market on a weekday afternoon," said Spaugh, who also hosts a booth with her business, Rehoboth Homestead in Peru. "The first week, customers started coming in a soon as we put signs out, and we were swamped with customers as soon as we opened. People were so enthusiastic and encouraging."
Last week, the market was held on a Wednesday due to Thanksgiving, resulting in a smaller crowd. However, out-of-towners visiting friends and family for the holiday turned out, helping with sales, said Spaugh. This week, Spaugh expected the numbers to pick up once again as buzz of the market increases.
"I thought most people would want to avoid shopping on fall afternoons and evenings and would prefer to pre-order and just quickly pick their orders up, but we have many more walk-in customers so far," she said.
The best part of the market, said Spaugh, has been how producers support and encourage each other and how enthusiastic customers have been. The fact the market features cheese producers, maple producers, apple growers and winemakers adds to just what one can walk away with from a day at the market, said Spaugh.
"We actually have a really good range of products," she said.
The support of the vendors has been a pleasant surprise to Spaugh, who recognizes markets in the winter don't always fly with growers and producers.
"Though year-round farmers markets are doing very well elsewhere, most farmers markets close in mid-October here because the customer base drops enough that vendors can't justify the time at market," explained Spaugh. "Our producers were taking a risk in joining the market, and I really appreciate that."
One vendor, Richard Lamoy of Hid-in-Pines Vineyard in Morrisonville, agreed.
"The market seems to be off to a pretty good start, especially considering the time of year," said Lamoy. "It is heartening to see so many people of the North Country interested in getting fresh products from small growers and crafters ... The market has provided me with a bit of foot traffic as well as on-line exposure."
Spaugh said she would like to see more vendors participate, particularly those offering more grass-fed beef and artisan breads.
"We expect to have grass-fed beef at the Dec. 23 market, but would love to find a producer who will have it available before then," she said.
The main thing Spaugh said she would like to focus on to enhance the market experience for customers is getting people familiar with on-line ordering in advance - one of the main reasons the market was formed in the first place.
"It would be so convenient for folks in outlying areas or who don't find it convenient to come to market, to put in their individual orders and have one person pick them all up," said Spaugh, who added she can envision a community having a satellite pickup up point for customers in their area if customers consult each other when ordering in advance.
"Pre-ordering may increase as customers get familiar and comfortable with the producers and products, but I think lots of folks enjoy the social community of the farmers market," she said.
The indoor farmers market will continue Thursdays from 3 to 6 p.m. through Dec. 23. On-line orders may be placed at www.plattsburgh.locallygrown.net.
Those interested in becoming a vendor at the market or in receiving more information may contact Spaugh at 643-7822.