Buy Local. Eat Fresh.
Washington’s Saturday Market returns with new offerings this year, expanding what has become a beloved tradition on the Pamlico River.
Area growers, crafters, bakers and the like assemble to present the best homegrown and homemade items Beaufort County has to offer. The social network generated from its customer base and the merchants, each in their own specialty, is just another appealing aspect of the weekly event sponsored by the Washington Harbor District Alliance.
But this year, WHDA has expanded the market’s capabilities by now accepting payment in the form of debit and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) cardholders. This expansion allows for low-income families to join the market’s growing social network.
As the nation’s largest nutritional assistance program and the cornerstone of Federal Government efforts to alleviate hunger in the U.S., SNAP benefits will aid in sustaining the market, as well as the community. This new capability not only gives low-income families access to fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables, but it also expands the market’s potential customer base. It provides an easy and convenient way for SNAP cardholders to redeem benefits on eligible food items.
The new capability, made possible through WHDA’s purchase of an EBT machine by a Vidant Health Foundation grant, is just one more positive feature that allows the market to flourish and link local merchants with those who seek locally grown and made products. The connections that are made through those who participate in the market on either side of the spectrum facilitate additional commerce, allowing local merchants to gain exposure to a client base that they may not have been able to access otherwise. With no registration required to participate and a small fee of $10, merchants can display their products with ease and convenience.
Rachel Midgette, a local small business owner, launched her passion at the market years ago, showcasing an array of baked goods that gained a reputable following. That following aided in her upgrade from entrepreneur to business owner and put her on the fast track to becoming one of the busiest places of business in Washington. Now, as the owner of Rachel K’s Bakery, located in Washington’s Old City Hall building, Midgette has graduated from the market and joined Washington’s growing business community.
Midgette says she couldn’t have grown her entrepreneurship as exponentially as she did without the network and exposure the market provided. The venue allowed her to test and execute market strategies in a low-risk environment that would have otherwise cost a lot of money.
“I’m a huge fan of it overall,” Midgette said. “I really encourage entrepreneurs to try it out. I think it’s a great way to meet your customer base face to face and hear what they are looking for and what they want from you. I don’t think we would have what we have now if not for the Saturday Market. It’s a nice environment to get your feet wet. I feel like it was such a huge stepping-stone for us in building confidence in my abilities and my ability to meet the demand out there. The fact you can go out and meet the people who are growing and making your food and other items is a great experience. I think it’s a resource more people should take advantage of.”
Saturday Market runs is held every Saturday on the West End of Stewart Parkway from 8AM until 12 noon. Saturday Market will run until October 10.
To join the community, check out the Saturday Market Facebook page: www.facebook.com/WashingtonMarket
Written by: Beth Byrd
Washington Harbor District Alliance