The neighborhood farmers market is no longer just a place to buy fresh produce. Many of the markets being held across the region have vendors selling everything from natural dog food to specialty soaps.
The Williamsville Farmers Market has moved from its longtime home outside of the Williamsville Water Mill to nearby Island Park. Shoppers are entertained with live music. And while there are farmers selling early season produce such as lettuce and asparagus, the market is filled with vendors selling something else. Karen Smith is the proprietor of Red Clover Soap. She sells natural soaps and creams.
"I've always loved all natural (products)," Smith said. "When my children were young, I started my organic gardens with fresh herbs."
Most of the non-farm vendors are working out of their homes. They don't have stores. Some have sites on the Internet to sell their wares. Jackie Lovern runs Fetch! Gourmet Dog Treats, which specializes in home-made natural dog food. Lovern said her goal to make it a full time endeavor.
"This is a sideline for now. I'm an office manager, which is my 40-hour a week job. I do the baking at night when I come home," Lovern said. "I'd love to turn this into something that is full-time."
Heather Hilkey's small business is called Sweet Necessities. Hilkey says setting up shop at the Williamsville Farmers Market gives her much needed exposure.
"It's good to get your name out there," Hilkey said. "I have customers who come back, which is a good thing."
Hilkey admits she's a long way from being able to make a living selling her pies, cakes and cookies. Just this past week, she spent a hefty sum on cherries alone. Her goal Saturday was to clear enough money to cover that bill.