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17th Street Farmers Market Review

17th Street Farmers Market Review

17th Street Farmers Market

I really want to like this market.  It’s located in Shockoe Bottom in the market pavilion next to Main Street Train Station.  This location has been used as a market for over 200 years!  The location is cool and lively and the pavilion is incredible with plenty of space and lots of history.  Other markets would kill for these intangibles!  Unfortunately the rest of the market stinks.   Most of the markets in Richmond are producer only, meaning that people can only sell things that they grew or made themselves.  Not so with the 17th Street Market.  There are some farmers and crafters selling their own items, but disappointingly few.  Most of the stalls sell produce that was clearly not grown in Virginia (like oranges and bananas), miscellaneous retail items like skincare products, clothing and even garage sale type items.  I shop farmers markets because I want to support local farmers and buy produce at the peak of freshness.   If I wanted to buy a bunch of crap that’s been shipped thousands of miles I’d just go to the grocery store.

Supposedly this market was much better in the past.  I’ve heard they used to get upwards of 50 vendors, increased hours, cool performers and many more shoppers.  In my experience over the past couple years, they typically have closer to 20 vendors, only about a quarter of which sell food.  Nowadays farmers markets are booming and suddenly 17th Street has tons of great competition: http://youngmotherhubbard.com/http:/2198/richmond-area-farmers-markets-2012/.  But instead of stepping up their game and making adjustments, it seems like they’ve just sat back and expected their formerly successful reputation to carry them.  Sorry guys, it’s not working.  That being said, the space is worth seeing if you like Virginia history or if you’re in the market for random crafty items.  The setting is so cool that I continually go back in hopes that things have changed for the better.  Until that happens, don’t waste your time!

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8136496@N05/2750719200/

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