Community market serves as small business incubator

Businesses like DeRego's Sourdough Crackers sell products regularly at the Starkville Community Market. Troy DeRego started his business selling artisan breads and crackers at the market in 2013. DeRego's Sourdough Crackers now has a bakery on Main Street. (Photo by Sarah Raines, SDN)
By: 
SARAH RAINES
Staff Writer

Rows of vendors with a variety of colorful products line the sidewalks of Fire Station Park each Saturday morning and Tuesday evening.

Starkville Community Market provides a venue for small local businesses to display and sell their products and also serves as an incubator for its vendors by introducing business owners to clientele and promoting local products.

Starkville Community Market lasts through the summer, spanning from April to October. The Saturday market meets 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and will have its last market on Aug. 26. The Tuesday market meets 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and will end in October.

"The Tuesday Market usually ends around the time we have our Pumpkinpalooza event," Market Manager Jennifer Prather said. "It runs longer for farmers who sell products that have a later growing season."

The market had already been around for a few years before the Main Street Association took over it in 2013. Prather said the focus is mainly on fresh produce and baked goods, though it is also a venue for craft vendors and musicians.

BAKED GOODS:

Troy DeRego has been a vendor at the Starkville Community Market for four years.

DeRego owns DeRego's Sourdough Crackers on Main Street, and said the weekly market is where his business began. DeRego began baking at his house under the Cottage Food Laws in 2013, and brought his artisan breads and sourdough crackers to the Starkville Community Market to sell.

"This market is probably the main reason why I was able to start my business," DeRego said. "It gave me a chance to test out my products and meet new customers."

Because of the opportunity to sell at the Community Market, by the time DeRego opened up his store on Main Street, he already had a customer base and knew the products that sold best.

"I think for any small business, if they can get selling at a market like this, it is definitely the way to go," DeRego said.

FRESH PRODUCE

Locally grown, fresh produce can also be found at the Starkville Community Market.

Dallas O'Bryant, owner of Double D Farms in West Point, has sold produce at the market for seven years.

"This is my business," O'Bryant said. "I'm here every Saturday and every Tuesday."

O'Bryant is one of multiple produce vendors set up at the market. To ensure freshness, O'Bryant farms his own products, spends the day before the market harvesting, and brings his produce to Starkville to sell.

On Saturday, O'Bryant's harvest included okra, potatoes, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants and flowers.

CRAFT VENDORS

Amanda Doll Richardson created Amanda's Baskets this year. Her new business sells knitted dish towels, paper flowers, hand-woven baskets and other crafted products.

Richardson began her newest craft in February, taking wisteria and honeysuckle vines from her back yard and weaving them into hand baskets. She began selling her baskets and other crafts at the market at the end of June.

Richardson described the environment of the Starkville Community Market as a comforting and a safe environment to sell new products.

"For me, it's personal," Richardson said. "I'm making art, so if people made fun of it, it would bother me. Here, I feel like it's comfortable because it's your town. It's not so scary because it's not strangers."

MUSICIANS

The Saturday Starkville Community Market hosts local musicians, who perform for vendors and customers.

"We're very fortunate that we have had a sponsor every summer," Prather said. "C Spire Wireless has allowed us a small budget to pay those musicians."

Playing at the market gives the local artists an extra opportunity to get their name out and also gives them exposure to new groups of people.

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