Lake Norman & Mooresville

Davidson Farmer's Market focuses on family

Customers and vendors alike can agree: the Davidson Farmer's Market is a family place.

Located next to the Davidson Town Hall, between Main and Jackson streets, the market features a playground where market manager Courtney Spear watches her youngest son play with the farmers' children. Many of the customers are regulars and stop to chat with their favorite vendors. The atmosphere is less like a grocery store or typical market and more like a community gathering.

"Its not just a farmer's market, it's like a family festival," said Spear, 40, of Davidson.

Founded in 2008, the market quickly became a popular place for the local farmers and artisans to sell their home-grown goods and for the community to come out and buy locally grown food.

"When this opened, I started hearing that this was the best market in the area," said Mary Howard, of Mooresville. She opened her plants and flower stand, Green Fingers, and has been happy with her place in the market ever since.

As the market has grown and expanded, it has attracted more than 40 vendors as well as a dedicated group of regular customers. Open every Saturday from April to October, from 8 a.m. to noon, the market is attracting more and more people as word of mouth spreads.

Susan Benoit, who helps run her daughter Laura Lucille Benoit's organic pastry stand, By Lucille, said the stand has a group of regular customers.

"Every week, there's a few new people," she said. "The market's really grown since we first started."

The Benoits have been a staple at the market since its conception and have loved every moment - especially the family aspect of it.

"It's a lovely market," said Benoit. "It's so family-oriented."

And customer satisfaction plays a part in the growing popularity of the market.

Carol Alexander of Davidson has been a regular customer at the market for years. She used to frequent other area farmer's markets but would leave slightly disappointed and underwhelmed. But since she has been coming to the Davidson Farmer's Market, she has found her experiences to be much better - and even similar to when she went to markets in Africa.

"It's a good market," she said. "It's expanded, which is nice."

Her favorite vendors are the produce stand, Barbee Farms, and a catering stand, Chef Charles.

"They have stuff I haven't been able to find anywhere else," said Alexander.

That level of customer satisfaction has kept people coming back week after week, year after year, to the market.

"You see a lot of the same faces," said Spear.

Heather Cleevely of Davidson would come to the market every other week last year. Now, she has increased her visits to every week - due to both the quality of the goods sold and the welcoming vendors.

"They're great people, nice people," she said. "I love the flower stand."

Spear herself was a market goer before she took the job of market manager. When former manager Mary Jane Leach stepped down, organizers hired Spears, who has experience as an executive director and meeting planner for a nonprofit association management company.

"It just seemed like a natural fit for me," she said.

Her duties include managing the markets each Saturday, managing expenses, and overseeing vendor relations and different events the market hosts. And so far she has kept up with the growing market.

Johnny Elliot of Davidson has been at the market with his honey stand, Elliot Apiary, since the beginning. The management is part of the reason he has stayed at the market.

"This is an excellent market," he said. "I like the way it's managed and run."

But Spear insists she can't take credit for the market's remarkable success.

"The market was doing really well before I even got here, so it's not like anything needed to be fixed," she said. "It's like a well-oiled machine."