Strolling, snacking and shopping at new Spa market
SARATOGA SPRINGS Along with early summer radishes, asparagus and arugula, a new farmers market has sprung up in Saratoga Springs.
The Spa City Farmers Market started three weeks ago and will operate from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays through October in a grassy spot outside the Lincoln Baths at 99 South Broadway.
Organizers, who have set their sights on making the market a year-round destination, hope to move it inside the Lincoln Baths for the winter.
The new market is one of a growing crop of area efforts to showcase the produce and wares of local farmers and producers.
In Saratoga County, it joins the nearby Saratoga Farmers Market, the Malta Farmers Market, the Burnt Hills Farmers Market, the Ballston Spa Farmers Market and several others.
There’s plenty of room for another local market, said Sue Kerber, one of the Spa City Market’s three founders, who also runs the RAD Soap Co.
“It filled up just like that,” she said, snapping her fingers.
The venue has 50 vendors and more are on a waiting list.
And there have been plenty of customers to go around, too, she noted.
Organizers counted 2,800 on opening day.
The Meesh’s Marinara booth sold out of every single jar of sauce opening day, said Ricardo Rizzo, who was staffing the booth at Sunday’s market, occasionally stirring samples of bubbling tomato sauce.
His sister, Michelle Moricone, is the mastermind behind the sauce.
“It’s was our grandfather’s recipe. She made it better,” Rizzo said.
Shoppers strolled around the booths Sunday, pushing kids and dogs in strollers, dipping pretzels into peanut butter samples, tasting garlic dips, and listening to the rock band playing on-site.
“We’ve had customers coming through saying ‘I’ve never seen so many great vendors in one spot,’ ” said Shannon Campagna, owner of gourmet peanut butter company The Peanut Principle and another of the market’s founders.
Minimal red tape
She said the key to its success is that it’s not bogged down with a lot of regulations.
“We’re able to make decisions quicker. We’re able to approve somebody within 15 minutes. There is no board, there’s no, ‘You have to wait till next month’s meeting to figure it out.’ … We text like crazy. It’s an easy way to get things done,” she explained.
All of that texting has resulted in a great variety of offerings at the market, including ready-to-eat spanakopita and other European specialties, maple cotton candy, gourmet dog biscuits, garden plants, fresh produce, local beer and wine, coffee, artisan bread, maple syrup and honey.
The aim is to feature vendors from all over the state, Kerber noted.
“We want the best of the best. That’s what we’re trying to find and we’re doing a pretty good job of it,” she said.
Colleen Zorbas, owner of Zorbas Natural Foods and the third of the market’s founders, said a market run by women is a great thing because women are excellent multi-taskers.
In addition to running her own business and helping with the market, Zorbas home-schools her children.
“I’m a little insane,” she admitted, adding, “Everybody helps out. It’s great to have husbands to help out too.”
Kids were also helping out at the market Sunday. Seven-year-old John Zorbas, Colleen Zorbas’ son, was staffing the craft table, where he was teaching other youngsters to make “stick letters” out of twigs and yarn.
Scents for the senses
Four sweet-smelling buckets of pink and white peonies drew the eye to the Saratoga Apple booth, where there were also apples, vegetables and tempting-looking sweet cherries for sale.
“Come and smell the flowers. You don’t have to go in the woods to smell the roses,” encouraged employee Joseph Garrick, who predicted great things for the new farmers market.
“I think this market is going to be phenomenal,” he said. “Good location. People are looking for good, healthy stuff, and it’s right here.”
Husband-and-wife team Sue and Art Arehart, owners of Sue’s Art Custom Jewelry, returned to the area from Tampa, Fla., eight months ago and are offering jewelry with sports, military and animal themes at the market.
“People here are so friendly,” Sue Arehart said. “It’s so nice to be around artsy, crafty, laid-back people. I love it.”