Ah, but could the World be straightforward, linear? No, malheureusement, not always. If you follow my blog, you know that three weeks ago, I started selling salad greens and herbs in addition to baskets at the Saturday market~
I have bought these greens at various markets for several years; the grower, Maggie’s Farm, is well known for fresh baby lettuces in LA, especially their Stellar Mix, which is spring greens, chive, dill and various edible flowers. So when my Sunday market manager Raquel proposed we sell the greens, I jumped on it~
Arugula was so good, and popular in the our samples the last two weeks, here with strawberry vinaigrette~
But having a great product is one thing, getting into a market is another. I promoted the idea of the greens to Monsieur Rick, our Saturday market manager, brought samples, etc. Rick is a very straightforward businessman, and runs a tight ship. And baby lettuce is a very special niche in farmers markets; people get hooked and the product must be there, week after week with no interruption. Rick’s words stuck in my head: The first week you are here without product, you are out. That’s pretty clear, isn’t it? Especially since I just agreed to it three weeks ago!
After what we thought was a clear agreement with Maggies, Thursday morning after placing our order for the weekend we got the call that we are being cut off. And not cut off with a week or two’s notice in order to find a new supplier, cut off with 48 hours notice before the market. No one really seems to understand what happened (was it an issue with the Ag certificates, or was our volume too small?) except that Maggies is dropping Orange and San Diego County markets. Really? This is so un-pro.
The green’s were important to me in part because I had made a commitment to Rick to deliver the produce, and in part because it was a venture Kerry and I were to grow together, parallel to the basket business. Like being single vs having a child; I now feel responsible for another person, and the rug got pulled from under our feet. What are we to do, cry in our coffee? No, not at all. Confront the issue I did, as I moved into high gear. After a sleepless night pondering options, I called Rick on Friday and explained our supplier has dropped us but that I already have others lined up. Thankfully, he was supportive. Kerry & I showed up at the market today in Customer Service mode; in lieu of gourmet lettuces, we offered a free glass of raspberry-mint water made with herbs & berries from the market and a touch of agave~
As well as Trader Joe’s goat cheese rolled in fresh herbs cut from live plants on sale at the market~
There is not a lot of value-added sampling at this market, so this was a huge hit and Rick was happy~
Kerry did a little bit of creative signage, but we nonetheless spent the entire day explaining why we had no greens~
Monsieur Rick has given us a little bit of a pardon, so this week I am visiting several farms to line up a new supplier. My favorite farm in San Diego has offered to help….thank you, Phil…..
This is sort of a “day in the life” post, I know. Thanks for listening to me today! But there is some fantastic news coming up that is related to our suppliers and new products…stay tuned…..