Sweet Spot owner Doug Law (right) offers an Italian ice sample to Fayetteville beekeeper Jerry Edwards during a preview of Morrow’s new farmer’s market Thursday. Edwards and Law will have booths at the market when it opens June 8. Also pictured are Sweet Spot marketing and sales Director Tamecia Shaheed (second from right) and market Manager Ginny Harrell.
MORROW Doug Law and Tamecia Shaheed hope the exposure their Italian ice business will get at Morrow’s new farmer’s market will lead to a bright future.
Right now, their business — which started two months ago — is based out of Law’s Lake City home. A recent Atlanta Silverbacks soccer team event was the first major venue they worked, but the farmer’s market will be their first consistent gig.
Ideally, Law and Shaheed would like to parlay that consistency into growth and a more visible presence in the Morrow and Lake City area.
“If we can build a rapport in this community and people start seeing our brand, we’d like to eventually open a store here in Lake City or Morrow,” said Law, the owner of Sweet Spot.
Sweet Spot is one of two dozen food and craft vendors that have signed on to participate in the market, which opens June 8 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Morrow Tourist Center, 6475 Jonesboro Road. Market Manager Ginny Harrell said the market will be open every Saturday during the same hours until late October.
Morrow joins several other cities in the Southern Crescent which have joined in a growing trend of starting up small municipal farmer’s markets. Jonesboro and the University of Georgia’s Clayton County Cooperative Extension office have partnered in recent years on their own market. There are at least two markets in Henry County and a few in Fayette County.
And looming over all of the local city-run markets is the State Farmers Market, which is two exits north of the tourist center on I-75 in Forest Park.
“All of the other cities around here have one,” said Ginny Harrell, manager of Morrow’s effort. “Peachtree City has a market. Locust Grove has a market. We decided we needed one. We wanted to build community spirit and enthusiasm for local vendors.”
Harrell thinks Morrow has a winning concept that focuses more on featuring small businesses and artisans than people looking to sell produce from their home gardens or farms.
“We decided we were going to stand out because we are going to be very friendly and have a wide variety of products whereas with the [state] farmer’s market, it’s just fruits and vegetables and plants,” said Harrell.
Several of the market’s vendors said they thought the concept was a good approach to take.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for small business owners in general,” said Sweet Spot marketing and sales manager Tamecia Shaheed. “We’re looking to grow our business base with this new opportunity so we wanted to get on with it early.”
Law said they see it as an opportunity to expose the community to their business.
“It allows us to get our brand out there and talk to people and let them know what we do,” he said.
Shane’s Rib Shack Hwy. 81 Catering Coordinator Jay Gille said it helps that the tourist center is surrounded by five hotels.
“Who doesn’t want local crafts when they visit an area?” Grille said.
And there is at least one link between Morrow’s market and the State Farmers Market. Morrow residents Kelly and Dee Brown have two businesses that will participate in the market. While Dee Brown will sell dog collar charms through her company, Lucky Dee’s Beads, Kelly Brown will sell salsa through his business, Mr. Salsa Man.
“All of his stuff that he buys to put into the salsa is from the [state] farmer’s market,” said Dee Brown. “They know him. Whenever he goes out there, they all go, ‘Mr. Salsa Man, did you bring me any salsa?’ ”
The participating vendors said they are excited about the market’s potential and location.
“We’ve participated in a lot of markets over the years, but this was very convenient so we’re hoping it’s going to do well,” said Kelly Brown. “You get tired of driving 40 miles one-way to get to a market, so it’s nice to have one a couple of miles from where I live.”
He later added, “I think it’ll do well. I think once word gets out, more vendors will want to participate. It’s got a good location that’s easy to get in and out of.”
Jonesboro crochet artist Laura Wiley said the market will be helped by its “local flavor” by featuring vendors from nearby areas although she admitted “it’s going to be a learning curve” for city officials and vendors as they get things set up.
But Fayetteville beekeeper Jerry Edwards said what will help is the fact that while Forest Park does have the State Farmer’s Market, there is no market featuring local vendors in the northern half of Clayton County.
“People get a sense of community when they have a local market like this,” said Edwards. “I know with some of the other markets I’m in, people bring their dogs, their cats, their children and they all walk around. It’s like a happening on a weekend. People come and meet other people. It strengthens the community.”