Some have wondered if the Flower Mound Farmers Market is truly a farmers market if few farmers are actually there.
But others say the market won’t be as successful if the name is taken too literally.
Flower Mound is taking a step back on a requirement put in place when the farmers market began that states no more than 20 percent of the display area could be used for the sale of non-food items.
At a recent meeting members of the Town Council said loosening up on that requirement could help the market re-launch successfully. It’s set to open the fall season from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at Parker Square.
Officials said the 80-20 split hasn’t always been followed anyway. Matt Woods, director of environmental services, told the council last week the town conducts three inspections per year and said the percentage of non-food vendors has ranged from 40 to 60 percent in recent years.
While the town didn’t close down the market, Matt Brown, the manager of Four Seasons Markets, received a notice of violation and ended up closing it, Woods said.
Woods said a prior Town Council set the 80-20 percentage. He said around 2016 the council amended the ordinance but left the percentage breakdown the way it was.
“Basically they wanted it to be primarily for the sale of food … instead of other items,” Woods said.
Brown said his company strives for a 60-40 mix.
“We understand that our patrons show up for the food,” Brown said. “But they’re happy to see the non-food as well once they get there.”
Brown added, “As the holidays approach it serves the public to reverse that 60-40, as much as you don’t think so. Yes, it takes away from that farmers market feel, but it is a market for the town.”
Brown said Four Seasons has to be strategic on what types of vendors it brings in, adding that having four farmers, for example, wouldn’t be supported at this market.
“They don’t make their money, they don’t return,” Brown said.
“If the patrons show up and there are 10 vendors because we adhere to an 80-20 enforcement, that’s not exciting,” Brown said. “If we can get 25 vendors at a 60-40, that’s much more exciting.”
Further, Brown said there’s often a misconception that the farmers market is going to be lined with farmers. He said out of 600 of his vendors there are probably 15 that are actually farmers.
“There are not a lot of farmers in Texas,” Brown said.
He said it’s challenging to respond to complaints from people who say they wish the market had more farmers.
“What products did you want to see that you didn’t see, or did you just want to walk through an alley of 27 farmers and see produce everywhere?” Brown said. “And to my point about vendors being independent business owners, they don’t make their money that way.”
Councilman Ben Bumgarner agreed that the town may be focusing too much on the name.
“I think we’re hung up on the word ‘farmers,’ and it all comes down to term and legalities and all that stuff,” Bumgarner said. “I like the fact that we can drop ‘farmers’ and just call it a market.”
Mayor Steve Dixon said he supported a temporary hold on enforcement of the 80-20 requirement until at least the governor lifts his orders related to the pandemic.
“(Let’s) give you the flexibility and freedom to be able to get some people excited, both from the citizenry and from the vendor pool, to come in and make this on a regular basis,” Dixon said.