By Michelle Wagner | Outer Banks Voice on May 27, 2021
During a typical year, the market hosts 50 vendors, but this year there were close to 90 applicants, said Town of Nags Head Event Coordinator Paige Griffin, who organizes and runs the markets for the municipality.
“This year we had such a huge response, I guess because of the economy and people having more time on their hands, taking maybe a hobby and actually turning it into a business,” said Griffin. The market is held every Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through September 9 and is popular among vendors because of its success over recent years.
Vendors – over half of whom will be selling food, perishables and consumables during this season’s market – pay $240 for their space each season. The money is used to cover the cost to the town of Griffin’s part-time position as well as operating costs of the market.
Vendors are chosen based on what they are selling, how long they’ve been vendors at the market and whether they are local. Those selling food, perishables and consumables have priority, with seniority and being local being the next to be considered, Griffin said. While those vendors selling produce come from a roughly 75-mile radius, all other vendors, Griffin said, are local.
“I have to be loyal to my local people who spend their money here, invest their time, give donations here, help their neighbors here,” Griffin said. “We try very, very hard to make it about community, to make it about shopping local, and to make it about education.
This year’s market, for the first time, will feature about half a dozen young entrepreneurs ages 14 to 18 who will also be selling their wares. Griffin said she has been working with the teenagers on small business skills to prepare them for season.
One key to the market’s success, Griffin noted, was how vendors are positioned at the park. “I visit the vendors where they are, I know their personalities,” she said. “I know who to put next to each other. You have to know your people, you have to know your community, not only the products that they sell, but their personalities and how they operate.”
Last season, the Farmer’s Market had a shortened season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, only operating during the months of July and August. Sanitation stations were placed throughout the park grounds and masks were required.
As for this season, the mask requirement for the Farmer’s Market has been dropped in light of Governor Roy Cooper’s announcement that the mask mandate was rescinded in the state.
Griffin said she’s optimistic for a successful market this year, with holiday markets scheduled for November and December as well.
“We’re looking forward to having a full season,” she said. “And hopefully we’ll be able to [resume pre-COVID] activities [at Dowdy Park] by mid-July, such as live music and movies.”