Right around 1PM this past Sunday, a hundred market farmers breathed a huge sigh of relief. The rest of the city was grieving but we’d just had our livelihoods handed back to us
Business is business. Adversity happens. Equipment breaks down, customer tastes change, and competition is relentless. Farmers are especially adept at backup plans and contingencies because their fortunes ride on the weather, which was dealing hard hands even before things started getting really strange the past few years.
For many of us vendors, markets are our main source of income this time of year. Wind, rain, and even snow take their toll on sales, but football hits us even harder. Other than the Pike Place Market, there are four year-round farmers’ markets in Seattle: University District, Ballard, Broadway, and West Seattle. Three of these four markets run only on Sundays. Unlike baseball, basketball, and soccer, which happen throughout the week, football owns Sunday, and it doesn’t share. Even the church down the street reschedules its Sunday services on game days.
Football hits some markets harder than others. A market that bills itself as an entertainment venue, with a music stage and a roster of food trucks, will be hit harder than a mature shopping market, where serious cooks and shoppers show up early, in all kinds of weather. Football hits the markets harder as the season wears on, as the tension grows and the stakes increase.
Some market managers try to drum up sales by encouraging vendors to wear team colors, show team spirit, and sell game-day snacks. But no showing of blue clothing or blue cookies is going to up your sales if fans aren’t browsing at the market in the first place.
We can’t compete with a phenomenon whose advertising budget handily exceeds our combined annual income. It’s humiliating to feel angry and alienated over something that brings our loved ones so much joy.
But that’s all behind us now, at least until next season. Please come back to the markets. We’ll be waiting, with Brussels sprouts, sheep cheese, smoked salmon, and grilled vegetable quesadillas. We’ll be overjoyed to see you.