Local markets have revived the shopping scene within Wharton’s historic downtown, as well as showcased the area’s growers, crafters and artisans.
Those changes caught the eye of Brahman Country Beef LLC co-owner Rachel Cutrer, who first saw the Wharton County Farmers Market (WCFM) as a safe way of expanding her online business.
“I had been to the farmers market in previous years as a customer and I really liked it,” Cutrer told The County Gin. “We joined the market primarily due to COVID. We felt like people would have an interest in buying their food locally and also felt really comfortable with what security measures the market had in place.”
Twothirtynine owner, Monica Sorrel, saw that same potential with her business she had started only one month prior to the market.
“I started my clay earring business in September, only selling to family, friends and co-workers and through social media,” Sorrel said. “Through Facebook, I noticed the market was starting up and thought I would try it out. I had a craft and wanted to get it out there to see if others like my product as much as I do.”
Both women say the WCFM has exceeded their expectations and presented opportunity for the development of new relationships within the community and with fellow vendors.
“In my opinion, it’s really easy to get to and there’s a great variety of vendors there,” Cutrer said. “I love the live music; it really makes it feel like a fun community event, not just a sales market. It has exceeded our expectations in every category. It’s really allowed us to get our name out there more to the community.
“As a vendor, I really liked just being part of the local community group. I got to meet a lot of the other vendors and learn about their businesses. I’ve been able to buy my Christmas gifts locally and make some good connections within the community. We had done Facebook advertising and word-of-mouth in addition to our fully-functioning online store, but (the market) really opened doors for us.”
Sorrel noted her success in the market as well, saying, “I have benefited fully from this market and have been very impressed.”
She continued, “There were a lot of people and you could tell they were happy to be there. I didn’t realize how big of a community we had here; I’ve met so many new people. I thought it was really cool to see what other people had been working on as well. I had no idea how creative this community was. (The market) was so diverse and I really liked that.”
It was the variety of vendors and relationships gained through the WCFM that Cutrer credits her decision to join the debut of Provisions Pop Up Market, which is being held throughout the month of December.
“Our ultimate goal was to be in a store or to have a storefront,” Cutrer told The Gin. “That really had not been possible for us within our first two years. The Provisions Pop Up Market, which is brick and mortar, almost made it feel like our dream had come true. When this opportunity came up, it made it feel like we could really accomplish that goal for our business. The only reason we were able to do this is to have all the community vendors working together.”
For people like Sorrel, Provisions is another avenue to start your public-facing business.
“I would never start a store with just earrings,” she said. “I think it is really beneficial to have other crafters and businesses come together to create a variety of products for shoppers.”
To anyone who is on the fence about putting themselves out there or has a product they would like to share with the community, Sorrel says, “Go for it.”
“If you have something you want to make or sell or are needing an outlet, don’t second guess yourself,” she said. “Everyone is different and I’ve learned people like different and a variety of things. I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to meet new people and see all the products. If you have something you think people will like, just go for it.”
On the tail end of the success of these two markets, Cutrer said, “I would like to see more markets. Especially, when the farmers market comes to an end for the season. I don’t want to lose that marketing opportunity and community event when it closes.”
This Saturday, Dec. 12 is the last date of the WCFM fall season. Provisions Pop Up Market will continue through December.