RALEIGH — It was going to take more than Memorial Day weekend to keep the small band of loyal customers away from The Saturday Market tucked away in the Boylan Heights community.
Carrying reusable bags and paper bags, shoppers pored over the produce, seafood, meats, coffee, pastries and crafts at the mini-farmers market located beside Rebus Works, an art gallery and frame shop, off Kinsey Street near downtown Raleigh. It’s one of the small farmers markets that have popped up around the country to compete with the larger markets such as the State Farmers Market in Raleigh.
“It’s a great place to come and buy directly from local farmers and support local businesses,” said Molly Miller of Raleigh. “It’s less crowded than the (State) Farmers Market.”
There are now more than 30 farmers markets of various sizes throughout the Triangle.
The Saturday Market got its start last year when Shonna Greenwell, owner of Rebus Works, decided it would be good for Boylan Heights to have its own farmers market. Now in its second year, Greenwell said about 300 people come each Saturday.
Greenwell didn’t have to go far to find David Menestres, who lives off Boylan Avenue. Menestres came to The Saturday Market packing bagels, savory hand pies and stone-fruit pies.
Menestres, who runs the online bakery Crumb, left the farmers market early Saturday because he was sold out.
“I think that if you’re not going to the beach, you want to stuff yourself with good food,” Menestres said.
Before leaving, Menestres received a bag of coffee beans to try to make coffee bagels from Jim Pellegrini, the owner of Muddy Dog Roasting Co. in Morrisville.
Named the 12th-best small coffee maker by CNNMoney in September, Pellegrini said he could go to larger farmers markets. But he said those markets won’t have items such as the lemon tahini he picked up Saturday or the figs he’ll buy later in the year.
“It’s eclectic,” Pellegrini said. “It’s the right customer for me.”
Pellegrini said the “right customer” is typically a well-educated woman between 35 and 50 who shops for her family and wants to know what’s in the items she’s buying.
Becky Stancill of Sew In Stitches in Raleigh is also hoping the Boylan Height area will provide the right customers. Saturday was the first time she set up her tent in the crafts area selling aprons, hand towels and other items featuring vintage patterns.
“We’re looking for the customer who’s looking for unique,” she said.
Sean Barker of Part and Parcel Farm off Lake Wheeler Road said the small size of The Saturday Market is actually good for him because it’s a training ground. He said it’s teaching him what it will be like should he expand his farm.
“This is a great place to get my feet wet,” Barker said. “I always enjoy spending a few hours out here meeting with people.”