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Farmers Market Federation of New York. Estimating the Economic Impact of Farmers Markets March 4, 2011. Estimating the economic impact of a Market in the community is an inexact science at best. Vendors, by nature, are reluctant to release sales information.

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Farmers Market Federation of New York

Estimating the Economic Impact of Farmers Markets

March 4, 2011

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Estimating the economic impact of a Market in the community is an inexact science at best.

Vendors, by nature, are reluctant to release sales information.

The total impact of the Market does not stop at the market gate but extends into the community in the form of increased traffic and sales at adjacent businesses, increase in property values and improvements in livability ratings.

Also the multiplier effect resulting from the dollars circulating in the local community must be considered.

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  • In 1996, Nutter and Associates put together a master plan for the Rochester Public Market. Part of this study included an estimation of total sales derived from;

    • Interviews with vendors and customers

    • Sales at comparable retail outlets

    • Information supplied by wholesalers and businesses on the market

    • Police estimates of attendance

    • They estimated the total Market retail sales at around $8,000,000 and the sales of the wholesale outlets at the Market at $30,000,000.

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In the fall of 2010 a group of students from the University of Rochester utilizing a tool developed by the University of Iowa, executed another study of the Market’s economic impact as well as the effectiveness of our marketing efforts and some of their suggestions for improvements.

What follows is the presentation that the students developed.

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What does the Rochester Public Market mean to Rochester?

December 9, 2010

Local and Global Market Research Class

Department of Anthropology

University of Rochester

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  • To assess the impact of the RPM on the local economy.

  • To understand the value of the RPM for shoppers, vendors, business owners.

  • To identify marketing messages and venues for reaching new customers.

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What we did:

  • Interviewed

    • 48 shoppers

    • 13 vendors

    •  6 business owners

  • Conducted an online survey with 565 people

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Measuring Impact of the RPMon the Local Economy

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Our approach

To measure the impact of the RPM on the local economy:

We estimated spending and sales based on information obtained from customers and vendors during our interviews.

2. We multiplied the dollar amounts for customer spending and vendor sales by the number of customers and vendors using figures supplied by the RPM. 

3. Following the model used in a study of Iowa farmers markets, we estimated the total effects of RPM activity on the local Rochester economy.

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Customer spending

According to shoppers:

$393 average annual spending, or $7.75 per week.

$7.75  X  2,043,000 customer attendance =

Estimated Total Customer Spending


Problematic issue in calculating customer spending: the 2+ million figure for number of customers reflects attendance by day (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, special events), not separate individual shoppers. There may be some overlap.

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Vendor sales

    Estimated Annual 

Sales / Vendor

$52,000.00, $52,000.00, $130,000.00, $52,000.00, $250,000.00,  $2,990.00, $28,000.00, $58,000.00, $39,000.00, $52,000.00, $250,000.00.

Number of Stall 

Licenses / Month

January-March           180

April                          210

May-September          290

October-December     210

Estimated Total Annual Vendor Sales 


(The average was calculated by factoring in the 11 vendors that 

did give sales information out of 13 vendors interviewed)

 Average    =      ~240         X          $87,817.27

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Customer vs. vendor estimates

Recap on RPM annual gross sales:

Customer spending = $15,833,250

Vendor sales = $21,076,080

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Measuring total effects

Models of economic impact include not only direct effects (sales as estimated above) but also indirect and induced effects. This provides total effects on the local economy.

Indirect effects in the farming industry involve purchases of seed, fertilizer and other items that are part of producing crops.

Induced effects reflect spending from earnings (profit) by farmers and businesses from whom they buy the items for production.

Based on the Iowa study, a multiplier of 1.58 applied to the estimate of gross sales provides a measure for total effects.

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Total effects of RPM

Customer estimate

Direct sales of $15,833,250

x 1.58 =

$25,016,535 total effects

of RPM on local economy.

Vendor estimate

Direct sales of $21,076,080

x 1.58 =

$33,300,206 total effects

of RPM on local economy.

Source of economic model and total effects multiplier: “Consumers, Vendors, and the Economic Importance of Iowa Farmers’ Markets: An Economic Impact Survey Analysis”, Daniel Otto, 2005. Article is available online (Google author’s name and article title). We spoke with Dr. Otto and he believes that the multiplier is a very reasonable tool for the Rochester metro area economy.

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Comparative contexts

  • EBT sales at RPM

  • $237,904

  • (1st year, July 2008-June 2009)

  • Oregon token sales

  • (statewide 2009)

  • $261,229

Total effects



Iowa farmers markets

(statewide 2004)


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By: Caitlin Simpson, Elizabeth Riedman, Emma Rainwater, Miles Booth

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Customer Demographics

  • Gender

    • Female: 28

    • Male: 16

    • Couples: 5

  • Household members         

  • (1)    12

    • (2-3)  26

    • (4-6)  11


(18-24) 13

(25-29) 11

(30-39) 5

(40-49) 8

(50-59) 9

(60+) 4

Interviewed 48 people

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Frequency of Market Visits Monthly

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Seasonal Attendance

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Special Events

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Businesses Attended

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Reasons For Attending

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Annual Spending

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Zip Code Distribution

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Customer Prototypes

Product Based

Experience Based

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Product Focused



Weekly meals


Origin of product

Spending Habits

Frequent Visits (except special events)

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Experience Based

Of the people interviewed, the most highly valued experiences were as followed:

Diversity- Words to describe the market included ethnic, different, cultural, and eclectic

 Support local farms

Community- Part of a greater whole

Interacting and getting together with friends and family

Atmosphere- Many said that "there is nothing else like the market in Rochester"

Walking encourages exercise

Upon evaluating the overlapping reasons for coming to the market, it it clear that for many customers, the market represents and facilitates the idea of community

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But What About People in Both Categories?

While some people fall into both categories marketing specifically to either group will effectively encourage the people in both groups to come to the market. Further, we would like to point to the fact that the market is unique in the sense that it offers both low prices and a quality experience.

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Suggestions For Change


Vendors reluctant to take tokens

Facade of businesses

Better organization 

More organic food

Differentiate between farm grown and wholesale goods

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By: Stephania Romaniuk, Eliza Friedman, Susanna Virgilio, Von Holguin

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Life Lessons

  • Commitment to customers

  • Career is first and foremost

  • Vendors are successful when they’re fair to themselves first, then their customers

  • Know products inside and out

  • Character and integrity are vital as a business person

  • It’s impossible to get along with everyone, but cherish the fact that people from all walks of life come to the RPM

  • General business lessons: marketing, pricing, accounting, etc.

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Where Vendors come from

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How long they’ve been in RPM/business

  • RPM: limited amount of responses

    • Range: 4-70 years

    • Mean: 23

    • 4, 4, 12, 15, 24, 26, 37, 65

  • In the business: limited amount of responses

    • Range: 30-70 years

    • Mean: 51 years

    • 42, 32, 55, 60, 49, 68

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Where the Vendors Sell in Addition to the RPM

  • ~67% of vendor surveyed said they ONLY sell at the RPM

  • Outside of Buffalo

  • Roadside stands near farm

  • Other public markets and wholesale

  • Store in Albion

  • Markets across NY, PA, and FL

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Relations with Customers

  • Relations are casual and friendly

  • Steady and returning customers

  • Vendors:

    • are attentive but firm

    • stay current in news relating to products

    • inform customers about products. Many customers ask questions

    • realize the importance of having good relations with customers

    • listen to customers’ needs

    • hold a sense of pride of good customer relations

  • Sense of community

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Thoughts on vendors’ RPM involvement

  • Opportunity to learn

  • Profit/livelihood

  • Desirable place to work

  • Exposure to customers

  • Personal history and family involvement

  • Pride in product quality and personal integrity

  • Relationships with customers

  • “It’s a lifestyle”

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Thoughts on Winter Shed

  • Many were ambivalent or not interested

  • Suggestions

    • Deeper stalls and more loading area space

    • More effective way of heating

    • “Make it more open”

    • Doors which are easier to open

    • Glass windows

    • Consistent cleanliness

  • Detractions

    • Too hot for certain products

    • Not enough space for customers

    • Current one is not filled to capacity

    • Rent is too expensive

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Suggestions for Improvement

  • Advertising

  • Parking

  • Rent

  • Repairs/ cleanliness

  • Receptive to vendors concerns

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By: Emily Adams, Kristina Diaz and Kevin Zheng

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  • 11 Businesses within and adjoining the market

  • 3 categories:

    • Stand - Juan & Maria’s Empanadas, Scott’s, Cherry’s European, Zimmerman’s Hots

    • Coffee/Bakery – Java’s, The Little Bakery, Union Street Bakery, Boulder, Lena’s Bake Shoppe

    • Specialty shop – Giordano’s European Cheese, Fare Game

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Bakery and Coffee Shops

Union Street Bakery


  • Several locations in Rochester, NY

  • Majority of revenue at the RPM location comes from bean sales to businesses in Rochester area

  • Open 7 days a week

    • Week days primarily for bean sales

  • Business started 5 years ago

  • Open 7 days a week

  • Greater proportion of sales happen during days when public market is open

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Juan and Maria’s Empanadas


  • Family owned business

  • At market for 19 years

  • Public market since 2003

  • Public market is only location

  • Originally from Chile and liked the idea of an open air market

  • Advertise on radio, in newspapers and on facebook

  • Family owned business

  • Owned for 5 years

Cherry’s European

The average estimated number of customers for all 3 stands on a Saturday is 400

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Giordano Import Inc. European Cheese Shop

Specialty Shops

Family business

Began importing olive oil from Italy and expanded to cheese, olives and other imported specialty items

Imports directly from Europe

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  • Majority are family run and exist only at the market

  • Stands and coffee shops/bakeries are more popular

  • Most businesses rely on customer loyalty and word of mouth advertising

    • Pride in quality and affordability of products

    • “I don’t have enough room or resources to advertise”

    • Many believe that the RPM should do more to advertise businesses

  • Some stands would like to be open during the special events held at the RPM but feel the cost to be open is to high

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Rochester Public MarketOnline Survey

By: Katherine Burnham, Edward Chi, Arielle Friedlander, Elizabeth Kim, Joshua Stillman, Scott Strenger

and Benjamin Witten

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Our Survey on SurveyMonkey.Com!

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Survey Questions

1. Are you aware of the Rochester Public Market?

2. How did you first hear about the Rochester Public Market?

3. Are you aware of the following special events that occur at the Market?

4.  How useful do you think these special events are in attracting customers to the market?

5. In your opinion, what does the Rochester Public Market offer that other stores do not?

6. Where do you shop to purchase the following goods? 

[RPM, Other Stores/Supermarkets, Other Farmers' Markets]

7. Demographic Information - Age, Gender, Zip Code

8. How did you hear about our survey?

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  • Collected 565 Responses

  • Out of those 565, 512 participants completed the entire survey

  • Distributed Survey through:

    • Facebook Event

    • Friends of the Market

    • Weekly Buzz

    • @Rochester

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Are You Aware of the RPM?

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How did you hear about the Market?

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  • Why such a significant difference?

    • Women more likely to take surveys than men

    •  Women more often shop for food

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Who Comes to the Market?

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How Did You Hear About The Survey?

"From my niece who is a student at U of R"

"I work for the Culver Medical Group (part of Highland Hospital and under the U of R. "umbrella") and found in my email."

"Work at URMC.  I've shopped at the Market weekly for 30 years.”

"Isn't anyone interested in why I don't shop at the Public Market?  I heard about the survey from @Rochester, the UR daily e-newsletter."

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What Do People Like To Buy At The Public Market?

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Special EventsAre you Aware of Special Events?

Responses: No; Yes, but have not attended; Yes, have attended

Ordered Least Attended Event to Most Attended

Harvest Jamboree Ex. 61.3%    30.0%    8.8%

Artist Row

Savor Rochester

Christmas Holidays

Concerts & Night Market

Community Garage Sale

Flower Days    34.3%    31.0%    34.7%


Students were high percent of participants (not local);

Some events only occur once a year, while others happen frequently

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Are the Special Events Useful in Attracting Customers?

Never heard of Market N/A: 27/4 - 42.4%

Not Useful: <4.1%

Somewhat Useful: 20.1- 32.1%

Very Useful: 29.1- 49.9%

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What does the RPM offer?

- Categorization of responses

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"The public market offers great prices on fresh locally grown products. I think it is beneficial because you get a lot for your dollar while supporting local Rochester Area businesses."

"The opportunity to buy local, and to shop in a real market atmosphere. It makes buying needed things more fun and interesting. And it's more personal, more in touch with the community, since you are interacting with the people who actually grow and produce the merchandise."

"Fresh fruit for cheaper, and the experience is always fun.Oh yea, the AMISH PEOPLE MAKE THE BEST BREAD EVER."

"The freshest produce. Makes 'Eat Local' an easy reality. A feel for how cosmopolitan our city is."

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Responses, cont.

"Necessary items at bargain prices all at the same location. Also, the feeling of a more direct and ancient form of commerce. What I enjoy the most is purchasing directly from local farmers and feeling part of the community at large. Although I have heard that many vendors are distributors or other forms of middlemen (i.e. not necessarily farmers) and I think this may be misleading to many."

 "Lively wonderful healthy mix of people from all the cultures and neighborhoods in Rochester. The ONLY place where this happens. local produce, in season foods, places to sit and watch the crowds, drink coffee, Italian cheese shop."

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Suggested Ways to Further Advertise and Expand

Facebook: Advertisements/Events/Group

    -Expand and Update

"Local Foods Week" at University of Rochester

    -Contribute and advertise

Bike-Friendly (Could reduce parking problem possibly too)

Come to campus

    -Leftover produce Tues/Thurs?

Reusable Bags and RPM Pins

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Further Ways to Advertise cont.

GroupOn Deals?

Feature information in @Rochester and the Weekly Buzz

Ask vendors how they would prefer to be advertised 

Frequent feedback 

    -Customers and vendors 

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Contact Information

Local Foods Week: 

    Dining Services, Campus Dish, 

    University Council on Environmental Sustainability

Bring Market to Campus:

    Celia Palmer, Director of Conference & Events Office

    ext. 3-4571

    (585) 275-4111

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