Local market grows ‘U.P.’
MANISTIQUE – The Manistique Farmers’ Market is growing quite the following. In a recent Economic Impact Study, conducted with the help of the Sault Tribe Alliance for Health, statistics about the successful market were revealed.
Kerry Ott, community coordinator for SAH, presented the statistics during Monday’s meeting of the Manistique City Council. According to Ott, the study was conducted during the last three weeks of July in an effort to better grasp the market’s success.
“We did shopper’s surveys at the market, looking at their spending habits in relation to Manistique Farmers’ Market on market day,” she said. “A staff member from the LMAS (Luce, Mackinac, Alger, Schoolcraft) District Health Department did assist us with the survey interviews.”
The results of the study found that, during the period of the survey, t h e market averaged 269 shoppers per week. Sixteen of 24 scheduled markets are currently completed, Ott said, and the market averaged 278 shoppers in each two hour time slot. Estimated total attendance by the final market in October is 6,672 shoppers, she added.
On average, the study found market shoppers spend approximately $14 each week, and that some travel to the area primarily for the market. In fact, Ott explained those traveling to the area just for the market also spent an additional $3,740 at other area businesses on that day.
As for frequency,
Ott said the study found 48.8 percent of shoppers visited the market weekly.
“We see that, especially in the first hour, that first group they’re old timers – they come with a purpose, they come excited and they usually come about 3:15 – the market opens at 4,” she said. “They’re very excited to be there.”
First time shoppers accounted for 25.6 percent of market volume, while 16 percent several times a month. Those visiting once a month, several times a year, and rarely equated for 4.8, .8 and 4 percent, respectively.
Each week, the average number of vendors is 12, explained Ott. Up until Sept. 5, she noted these vendors had taken in 26 percent of the WIC Project FRESH coupons distributed in Schoolcraft County, as well as 35 percent of the Senior Project FRESH coupons. This equated to about 30 percent of the total area coupons distributed – compared with the 22 percent the market collected in 2011, Ott added.
The study also asked where the shoppers lived, and the average amount they spent. According to Ott, 83.2 percent of shoppers lived in Manistique and spent an average of $14.18 per market/per person. Shoppers from Cooks accounted for four percent of the visitors, spending $15 per market/ per person. Other shoppers included those from Curtis, Gulliver and Germfask, she added.
Beside Manistique residents, non-U.P. residents accounted for the next highest percentage of visitors, coming in at 7.2 percent, and spending an average of $14.78 per market/per person.
“We see that especially in July and August, when there are a lot visitors coming through,” she said.
According to Ott, a recent grant has aided the market in increasing its curb appeal and expanding further.
“Getting the USDA grant has been huge for the market this year,” she said. “The canopies, it’s just phenomenal. The comments we get from people every week is everything from, ‘Wow, this is so festive,’ to ‘It looks so professional’.”
News of the market’s growth has even traveled to other area markets, Ott noted.
“I’ve had comments from other communities in the U.P. that they’re jealous of our farmers’ market, and they have farmers’ markets of their own,” she said. “It’s really amazing, and the way the residents support the market, by coming week after week and shopping there. It’s really more than I ever imagined three years ago when we just started dreaming about this.”
In other business, Ott also explained that the city had recently moved ahead in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Roadmaps to Health Prize Contest. Earlier this year, the SAH team wrote an essay addressing the things they had done in the last five years to make Manistique a healthier place for its residents, she said.
“We are one of 11 finalists in the nation,” Ott explained. “A team from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will be here in the next five weeks … they will be here for two days. They want a tour, they want to meet with leadership in our community. They want to talk about what our vision is for the health of this community and the projects we are working on.”
Ott noted that the city would receive notification in January as to whether or not they received one of the six $25,000 prizes.