The Gainesville Farmers Market is finishing out its last season on the historic Downtown Gainesville Square. The market will move to Roosevelt Square in Downtown Gainesville in 2023, where it will be positioned between the Main Street Parking Deck and the Hall County Parking Facility.
Gainesville Public Relations Manager Christina Santee said in a press release that the move would offer more accessibility and shaded parking to both customers and vendors.
“Additionally, it’s the City’s hope the market will only gain support being closer to Brenau University, Solis Gainesville, and Gainesville and Hall County government facilities, which welcome visitors throughout the day,” Santee said in the release.
The Gainesville Farmers Market has been located in the Downtown Gainesville Square ever since it opened in 2009. Steven Thomas, Gainesville Farmers Market’s manager, said he picked the market’s original location to stay in line with tradition.
“200 years ago, when the mule carts used to come from the countryside, the farmers would bring their produce and the crafts, people would bring their crafts to the Downtown Square,” Thomas said. “And the city folk would come down on a Saturday to shop. That was also a socialization thing for the city folk. And it's pretty much the same thing what we're doing today.”
However, customers can still get their goods from the Downtown Gainesville Square location until Oct. 7, the last day of the season.
The Gainesville Farmers Market added more vendors to its roster this year after it struggled to find more after the pandemic. This included a fresh and frozen seafood section, plus international sausages, loose teas and herbs.
“We lost a lot of them during lockdown,” Thomas said. “Last year, we struggled to find people who fit in with the market that we have because we're different from all other farmers markets. But this year, we did very well, picking the best vendors that we can find in northeast Georgia.”
The Gainesville Farmers Market differs from most other farmers markets in the fact that it is privately owned by Thomas. He said that most farmers markets in other places are usually run by the city government.
Private ownership also means Thomas is the only person who can approve new vendors.
“Our market is different in that we don't have applications, we have handshakes,” Thomas said. “The way to get into this market is by being invited by me. That way I get to completely control the quality of not only the product that they're selling, but the people that we have.”
Products at the Gainesville Farmers Market are also typically less expensive than what is sold at grocery stores, according to Thomas. He said some vendors have been forced to slightly raise their prices due to inflation, but overall prices have stayed steady.
Ultimately, Thomas said customers are paying for quality.
“We've had people in the past who complained about paying $3.50 for six tomatoes,” Thomas said. “And [they told] us that they're 99 cents a pound at the grocery store. And we suggest that they go to the grocery store and get a tomato, and [then] buy a tomato from one of the farmers and do a taste test. Because what we're going for is flavor first. And you can't really get the same kind of quality of flavor from a grocery store that you can get from a farmer.”
The Gainesville Farmers Market will be open every Friday from 2 to 6 p.m. until Oct. 7.