Market Generates $56M Impact

Culinary

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY JAN 2, 2017

A new economic impact study shows the Sarasota Farmers Market performs in the top 5 percent of such events in the nation in terms of attendance. The study shows that the event, held Saturdays year-round, infuses $56 million into the local economy each year.

Market Manager Phil Pagano says the board for the farmers market decided this year to fund the study in order to gauge the specific impact of the event on surrounding business. “We generate a lot of business for downtown merchants,” he says. “And that’s what the market was started for 38 years ago by Paul Thorpe. It was to bring an economic impact downtown.” The study shows that on average, visitors to the market spend 37.26 percent, and 75 percent visit neighboring merchants when they come to Downtown Sarasota for the market. The study figures the market draws some 520,000 visitors a year, on average 10,000 per week.

In terms of support for area agriculture, the study found 727 acres of local crop production gets supported by the market, and that those farms are located on average 50 miles from the market itself. More than 15,000 pounds of produce get donated as a result of the market, the study says. The information was gleaned from a survey of 883 market shoppers.

The data gathered will also help in decision-making about the future of the market. Nagano notes that in July, a test was done on moving the farmers market to First Street. With development of new condos and the opening of a city garage on State Street, the market will have to explore a change in its footprint, Pagano says. But the goal remains having a positive impact on merchants in the surrounding area. “Some of the best days for many merchants are Saturdays,” he says.

The market today operates as an independent nonprofit, with vendors for the market serving on a board of directors. The Sarasota Farmers Market operates Saturdays from 7am to 1pm.

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