In 2007, Debbie Lubcker began selling natural vegetable soy candles at the Apex Farmers Market.
A year and a half later, the native of Long Island, N.Y., was named manager of the market. She replaced former manager J.C. Knowles.
“He came and asked me if I wanted to take it over,” Lubcker said. “At that point I was friends with the vendors, so I didn’t want to see it closed down.”
Since then, Lubcker has dedicated countless hours to expanding the market with more vendors and attractions.
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But now she is taking on a new challenge. This month, she will begin a job as manager of the New Plantation Point Farmers Market near Triangle Town Center in North Raleigh.
Although Lubcker is leaving, and taking some of the vendors with her, the Apex Farmers Market will continue on a smaller scale.
The market has struggled over the years, and Lubcker worked to bring in more vendors to sell produce, which was lacking at the site. Vendors also sell meats and other goods.
Despite the additions, making money proved challenging for the market, especially after opening day each April.
“The customers would just start living life and stop coming to the market, or they would appear sporadically. Then the vendors would wait three or four weeks and pull out,” Lubcker said. “The customers would then come back and ask where the vendors are.”
On good days, as many as 1,000 people would visit the market, Lubcker said. But other days would bring as few as 200.
“These last few months we noticed a lot of customers coming down and not really buying,” Lubcker said. “The big vegetable vendors were busy, but money has to be spent at all the tables.”
To turn things around, the market restructured itself. In addition to installing a board of directors and becoming a nonprofit, the market brought in food trucks, weekly specials and a variety of vendors to attract customers.
“The Apex Town Council members tried to help me this year, along with the board. They really put a lot of effort trying to come out and support us,” Lubcker said. “These people really, really tried to give it a whirl.”
When Lubcker makes the move to New Plantation Point, she will take many of her vendors with her. Lyon Farm, which joined the Apex Farmers Market three years ago, plans to make the move.
“Business just never came to full fruition (in Apex). It did all right for a while but didn’t seem to progress,” said Daniel Wiebke, who runs the farm in Creedmoor.
But some vendors found plenty of business at the Apex market. Mike Andreas, who co-owns Andreas Homestead, said he underestimated the market.
“We raise pasture-raised poultry and eggs, and we can’t bring them to the market fast enough,” he said.
Andreas and a handful of other vendors will continue to sell at the market on Saturday mornings.
“The Apex Market has been around a long time. Every couple of years it changes its complexion,” he said. “It’ll be a different market and a lot smaller, but we’re going to be there.”