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Starkville market attendance, sales growing

 

Starkville Community Market-goers peruse goods.

Starkville Community Market-goers peruse goods. Photo by: Zach Odom/Dispatch Staff

 

Carl Smith

 

Starkville Community Market's vendor and attendance counts continue to grow under the second year of Greater Starkville Development Partnership control, market manager Jennifer Prather said, as the event has almost doubled the number of sellers this year and maintained about $4,000 in business per week. 

 

In addition to increasing advertising initiatives, the GSDP launched the first mid-week produce market this year, which is held Tuesday afternoons. 

 

Attendance counts show the market's primary operation maintains at least 800 shoppers, Prather said, while averaging at least 1,000 people each Saturday morning at the corner of Lampkin and Jackson streets. 

 

By targeting farmers and craft-producing artisans further away from Oktibbeha County than in previous years, Prather said the GSDP was able to double the number of vendors this year. 

 

Attendance is expected to remain level as the market concludes its Saturday sales this weekend. Under the Partnership's guidance, the market extended its schedule last year through August. Prather said the Partnership does not wish to compete against home football crowds this year, so the market will end one week before Mississippi State University begins its season against the University of Southern Mississippi. 

 

"(Increased vendors and shoppers) speaks to the amount of word-of-mouth advertising we're getting from our shoppers," she said. "We didn't count attendance last year, but our eyes say we're easily getting more people than we were. 

 

"That's something we, as an organization, are trying to figure out," she said in reference to possibly continuing the market through football season in the future. "It spreads our marketing dollars over two events. It's hard to compete with football Saturdays." 

 

While Saturday sales wind down this weekend, the Tuesday produce market will continue through August and September, concluding before Oct. 10's Pumpkinpalooza.  

 

As interest continues to grow from vendors and shoppers, the GSDP could find itself with space issues at the market due to more tables, demonstrations and people. A solution to long-term growth issues, Prather said, could be found at the nearby Fire Station No. 1 Park, a public green space located at the intersection of Lampkin and Russell streets. 

 

The GSDP previously helped acquire a grant to provide pedestrian improvements to the park and at adjacent intersections. 

 

"We're fine where we are now, but we are getting closer to maximum capacity every year at the site we're in now. The things we're looking to do first are to improve the site's shopping experience with shaded areas and more safe walking paths," Prather said. "No matter what happens in the future, we'll continue to evaluate our site and others while we track our growth." 

 

The Saturday market opens 7:30 a.m., while Tuesday sales begin at 4 p.m.

 

Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch

 

 

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