As part of this promotion, we reached out to a blogger who started blogging because her town (Oak Park) fined her for growing vegetables in a raised bed in her front yard. Let's just say that she now has over 25,000 followers on her Facebook page and blog.
She posted our request, concerned it was a scam, and the responses were so WONDERFUL that we had to share.
Blogger HelenB wrote: "I see $25,000 as a real bargain, if it can accomplish the multiple goals of 1) reclaiming a currently vacant unused building, 2) helping to revitalize a downtown area and 3) establishing a first-rate farmers market."
Julie wrote: "I admire the enthusiasm and I think revitalizing and localizing is a worthy goal."
Christine wrote about Farmers Markets in general: "Of course it’s the catch 22 — venders don’t go because it’s not profitable and customers don’t visit the market because there is not enough produce variety." (This is why it is so important for us to raise money, not only for renovations, but to keep costs to vendors down.)
Marilynn wrote: "I know two things: KickStarter is a legitimate fund-raising operation — if they don’t make their goal, you do get your money back. And, that is a beautiful area of Virginia, with a lot of local support for that kind of store. It realistically could be a destination, and you’d have a lot of fun making a mini-vacation out of it. Truly fascinating, gorgeous, fun, educational part of the country!!"
Then there was Sheila's post: "My best friend lives in Mt. Jackson, which is a tiny little run-down po-dunk down along I-81. I got to tell you, I just don’t know if this would work. No one goes to Mt. Jackson. It’s not on the way from anywhere to anywhere. Front Royal (40 minutes away, where I live) is a much bigger town with tourist attractions of our own, a historic old town area, AND a farmer’s market, and we’re still a has-been town. No one comes out here as a “destination” anymore. That’s hours out of DC, and DC has plenty of fine farmer’s markets. (Manassas and Alexandria both have quite good ones.) Sure, the food is marked up a lot because the farmers have to travel so far, but no one seems to mind. It’s certainly cheaper than the gas would be, driving all the way to Mt. Jackson to buy a tomato. Though I’d love for this to work, I honestly don’t think it would. Normally, when people start a business, they make a really good business plan and try to convince investors (usually a bank) to lend them the money. My guess is the bank turned them down, and that’s why they’re trying to raise $800,000. I doubt they will EVER be able to raise this much on donations alone, and if they did, it would be money wasted because this farmers’ market would never turn a profit."
Here was our response:
"I REALLY thank you for the comments. All are good. No, we don’t expect to raise ALL the money on donations alone. Yes, we have a 51 page business plan. No, we were not turned down by a bank – not yet at least. Yes, we have talked with investors and continue to do so. Yes, the seed money will go to some advertising as well. By destination”, we mean that unlike farmers’ markets that are only in a parking lot (which are what is around here, we will provide a bit more. We used “destination” specifically to set ourselves apart, though we work with and promote, other local farmers markets.
"No, it’s not a scam. I’ve personally spent the last 27 days working 14 and 16 hours to construct the project on KS, and then promote it. We’ve been working on the entire project since last July. We are seeking seed funding because, first we don’t have it; second the Town has a list of requirements we must fulfill BEFORE we open the doors inside; and, I hate to say it, but [there is concern that we may have to down] outside this year if we don’t show that we are at least working to meet their requirements. We entertained a vendor-owned co op, but the vendors were not interested. Farmers, at least around here, want to farm; not co-manage a market.
"We did run a market in the lot last year. The reasons we are seeking the funding is spelled out in the project. As for the amount we’re seeking, neighboring towns are spending $200k on their markets! THAT is all through “grants” (which means TAXPAYER’S MONEY). The reason I posted here is that I have been following the Oak Park issue, and knew I would find like-minded people. These “grants” are one of the reasons that Big Government affects even small towns. Why shouldn’t the government have a say when you’re asking for their money. IN our case, we are basically pre-selling stuff to raise the money. It’s not free money, and it’s not government money.
"We're also doing it to keep the costs of our vendors down – as Christine points out, “you’re lucky if you make anything.
"We’re also doing this because of the things Sheila points out. There’s not much in Town to attract folks. However, we have beautiful new sidewalks, lampposts, new Town Center, beautiful new Town Park (I designed the new gazebo), and are sprucing up nicely. Actually, there are tons of people who go THROUGH Mount Jackson – both folks traveling on I-81 looking for something to do and people going to the nearby Bryce Resort. There’s just little reason for them to stop and shop because we don’t have the businesses. We don’t have the businesses because there are no people. It’s most definitely a chicken and egg scenario. Providing affordable space under one roof to artisans and food producers is one way to minimize everyone’s risk. Actually, the mentality of the town as being a has-been is one of the very reasons we are doing this. All over America, developers are paying to develop NEW TOWNS that embody the planning principles found in small towns, such as ours. We already have that, right here! We just need to realize it and change our attitudes. Everyone locally complains about how there is nothing to do. Well, put your money where your mouth is and support this, and there will be a great place to spend a morning, afternoon or all day."
We are pleased to say that our response has generated quite a few pledges so far!
Pledge here: The Mount Jackson Farmers Market KickStarter Project.