To say that I am humbled would be an understatement. I am having a hard time expressing how much this means, not just to me but for our market and for our future. When I took on the market, our annual revenue was steady at about $280K. We started seeing growth after that first year, and then it became evident that even our growth was growing. It was exciting at the end of each season to enter the numbers (meaning hours upon hours of data entry into a HUGE Excel spreadsheet) and then click over to the tab to see the final tally. With the growth we were seeing, and the crowds & energy I felt at this year's market, I had a feeling we were going to see a good jump, and my stretch goal was $500K.
So, on that random October Tuesday afternoon when I finally finished the majority of the sales entries and clicked over to the final tab, I was overwhelmed. Well, first off I thought surely I had fat fingered a few numbers because there was just no way that we surpassed my stretch goal by that much. But there it was. $574K.
So what does that mean? Why is that so important? Well, I'm going to tell you.
5 years ago I took over this market - it was struggling and it was going to be a long road to repairing relationships both with vendors and customers. I had NO idea what I was doing - my degree is in Fashion Design and Business. I had ventured out with Mockingjay Press just 2 years before, so I had some semblance of the community and how to host a fun event. This was a whole new wheelhouse though. I broke my toe on the first day...if that doesn't sum up my level of expertise, I'm not sure what does.
I trudged through that first year and learned a lot. I had an idea of how and what I wanted to do differently going into the next year...and so it began. I'm guessing many of you have read my previous post on what it takes to be a market manager, and it's really only the beginning. I truly think a coffee table book on "shit market managers hear on the daily" could be a best seller. I know many of my market manager friends would love to sign a copy for you!
Here I am again, about 5 weeks post announcing our big number, about to embark on one of the biggest weekends of my life. I feel like I've said that a lot this season...each week at the market growing bigger and bigger. Well, we decided later in the season to try our hand at something even BIGGER...a holiday market. Several previously re-occurring events had been discontinued and we thought there was a space for us in Snohomish, and a demand from our customers to shop locally just in time for Thanksgiving. And so, the work started, the venue was acquired and there have been many hours spent space planning, recruiting and coming up with ways to make our first ever Harvested Holiday Market a blowout success. To say the autocorrect on my phone accurately knows the phrases "stall fees", "vendors" and "firstname.lastname@example.org" would be an understatement.
This event and the market seasons I've embarked on truly bring me joy, and continuously beating previous numbers, supporting small businesses and providing an educational community experience may well be my calling in life. The joy I get when I see people building a relationship with their farmer, or finding that extra-special piece of jewelry from a local crafter...it's just something I can feel in my bones.
Hearing of our new vendors, several years down the road, opening their first brick & mortar stores is every manager's dream. In the age of Amazon Prime and right-now needs, a farmers market helps paves the path for community and it opens the doors for better connections.
So when you see me this weekend, likely stressed, trying my best to hide any frustrations, please know that on the inside, my heart is bursting. It's overwhelmed with pride, gratitude and awesomeness at how incredible this job has turned out to be.