Market Value

Study shows how farmers markets feed local economies

When you shop at your local farmers market, do you ever stop by neighboring businesses to run a few errands or grab a bite to eat at a local café? Many market shoppers do, and new research released by Market Umbrella this month, in partnership with three local farmers markets in Greater Cleveland, demonstrates the substantial impact farmers markets can have on the local economy.

Market Umbrella is an independent nonprofit organization based in New Orleans devoted to cultivating the field of public markets for public good. Market Umbrella partnered with markets in three cities across the country—Cleveland, Baltimore and Los Angeles—to measure this economic impact using methodology it calls Sticky Economy Evaluation Device, or SEED. In Cleveland, over 1,000 shoppers at Coit Road Farmers Market, Kamm’s Corners Farmers Market and Tremont Farmers Market were surveyed by local partners in September 2011. Customers were asked to share information on how much they purchased at the market and whether they planned to spend additional money in the community.

For farmers markets, which can often be overlooked by the traditional economic development community, the results were eye opening. At two of Cleveland’s newer markets, Kamm’s Corner and Tremont, nearly 20% of customers were shopping at the market for the first time. At Coit Road Farmers Market, which is celebrating an 80th anniversary this year, about 10% of shoppers were visiting the market for the first time. Shoppers spent an average of $15–$18 each time they visited the market. Over the course of the season each of these markets generated from $690,000 to $1.8 million in economic impact for its farmers and vendors. Shoppers also spent an additional $6 to $15 on average at local businesses while they were in the neighborhood. Using an economic multiplier from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the study examined the amount spent on neighboring businesses and the impact of those dollars recirculating throughout the local economy. Money spent at local markets is often more “sticky,” meaning less likely to leak out of the local economy.

At the Kamm’s Corner Farmers Market, which is located in the heart of the shopping district of the neighborhood, the combined annual impact on neighborhood businesses was $1.6 million. At Coit

Road and Tremont markets the impact on nearby businesses was $375,000–$400,000 per year. The combined economic impact of vendor sales and purchases at neighboring businesses was at least $1 million at each market: $1 million at Tremont, $1.2 million at Coit Road and $3.4 million at Kamm’s Corners. That isn’t small potatoes!

Market Umbrella will be sharing the results of its SEED research at the International Public Markets Conference in Cleveland this September and putting a spotlight on our great network of farmers markets and the important economic impacts of local food in Northeast Ohio.

For more information about this research visit marketumbrella.org.