After a one-week hiatus, the area has now has two competing farmers markets.
On June 3, Smart Markets, formerly located at the Bristow Commons site, opened its temporary Nokesville location on the corner of Route 28 and Fitzwater Drive, while the new Devlin Road Farmers Market opened in Smart Markets’ former location the same day.
After Jean Janssen pulled Bristow Smart Market out of Bristow Commons last Saturday, seven of her vendors left Smart Markets to establish their own market with support from Bristow Commons.
The vendors of the new Devlin Road Farmers Market reported that they had a smaller than anticipated turnout, likely due to the fact that they only had a week to market and announce their opening. Some of their customers had received an email from Smart Markets announcing that the market had moved to Nokesville.
“It’s going well,” said Director Holly Martin. “A lot of customers have come back, repeat customers.”
Some curious shoppers wandered onto the market, upon seeing tents set up in the parking lot. Despite a slow start, vendors said they were hopeful that in a couple of weeks the Devlin Farmers Market would be booming in the once-fruitful location.
Martin announced more vendors had signed on to the Devlin Road Farmers Market and would be making their first appearance at next week’s market.
Meanwhile, Devlin Farmers Market vendors said they chose to remain at the location because they feared a change of location would hurt their businesses.
“We have developed along with other vendors at this base, and we decided it wasn’t right to move on our customers. We wanted to be left out of politics,” said June Bush of Lothar Gourmet Sausage. “We are very happy to have this market expand and include good quality vendors.”
Vendors felt that they already lost significant income during the week off. Sally Holdner of Rainbow Acres Farms said that she and other vendors had lost money when last week’s market was cancelled.
Martin held a similar sentiment.
“It takes three years for us to be able to bring a product from conception to the market. We try to sell our beef fresh. To miss a market for us means we have product that is going in the freezer.”
Due to an increase in vendor participation, the market plans to line vendors along the access road on the Bristow Commons site. They anticipate this new arrangement will provide the additional parking that derailed the relationship between Bristow Commons and Bristow Smart Markets.
Meanwhile in Nokesville, Smart Markets did not see the turnout they had in Bristow, but they might have made some new customers from the Rural Crescent.
“We’ve had a nice day so far. They didn’t know we were [in Bristow],” Janssen said.
However Nokesville residents said they would go find Smart Markets where ever they locate.
“We’ll follow [Blue Dog BBQ] no matter where it goes. Best ribs that I ever had,” said Otto Stele of Nokesville.
Janssen and her vendors agreed getting back to Bristow is the ultimate goal, since it had been so profitable for them.
Smart Market vendors were confident in their decision to stay with Smart Markets and spoke highly of Janssen’s leadership.
Pocratsky of Blue Dog BBQ, who previously worked as an assistant on-site manager at the Nokesville market, praised Janssen’s work.
“It looks easy [running a market], but it’s a lot of hard work,” Pocratsky said, citing all the promotional work involved.
Mike Burner of Holly Brook Farm agreed Smart Markets is the right place for him.
“I’ve been with her a couple of years. I really like her market, and I wanted to stay a little closer to home.”
Janssen said she is hopeful for the farmers market’s return to Bristow, and thanked everyone for their help and suggestions in finding a new location, including Brentsville District Supervisor Wally Covington.
Janssen also announced that she found a new beef, poultry, pork and egg producer to round out the participating vendors.
Rather than pulling from one farm, she signed a co-op of several farms from the Shenandoah Valley, including Polyface Farm Pork.
“We intend to be here every Sunday no matter where they go,” said Pablo Teodoro, owner of the Warrenton Great Harvest Bread, and former on-site manager of the Nokesville Farmers Market.
At the end of the day both market directors are convinced that they will find their customers.
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