Husband and wife open local market, majority going back to the vendors

Category:  News
Wednesday, February 14th, 2018 at 7:59 PM
Husband and wife open local market, majority going back to the vendors by Nathan Nirth
Photo: Nathan Hirth

Recently opened by a local couple, the Edinboro Market is on a mission to deliver locally sourced goods and produce to the community. The space that once was the E Street Eatery is now where one can find the market and Boro Sweet Spot.

The Edinboro Market opened its doors to customers on Dec. 14, facing the cold weather and snow while bringing together several different local products in one location. Located at 109 Erie St., next to John’s Wildwood Pizzeria, it is a non-profit business that acts similarly to an indoor farmer’s market. But instead of the individual vendors having to set up displays and sell their own goods, the market brings it together and sells it for them. Of the money generated, 80 percent goes to the producers and the rest is used to support the market itself.

The market is the brainchild of Marti Martz, who graduated from Edinboro University in 2001, and her husband Curtis Hals. They used to spend their Saturdays traveling around to local businesses to buy some of their necessities, such as eggs and meats. “This is a place where people can bring their food and sell it in a storefront,” Martz, the president of the market, explained. “And people like myself can get, in one trip, what I used to spend my Saturdays chasing.”

Those Saturday trips helped them when they opened the market. Many of the people they purchased from became suppliers for the market and through word of mouth, helped the couple to find more producers. “There really is a network of people who know each other,” Martz explained. “They’re doing this already, so they have friends down the road who have goats.”

The couple started the Edinboro Market with a mission of supporting a self-sufficient economy that doesn’t rely on big stores bringing in foreign products. Instead, Matz stated a desire to help local businesses. “We kind of need to switch the manner of thinking so we rely on ourselves and we put our money back into our own community.”

To this end, they work as self-labeled “passionate volunteers” for the market outside of their other employment. Martz works for Penn State while Hals owns and operates the Boro Sweet Spot: a corner of the store dedicated to coffee, tea, and baked goods. Despite the proximity, Hals’ business operates separately from the market. It is a for-profit that acts as another supplier for the market, with 20 percent of the proceeds going to the market.

Since it’s a place for local producers, the market will only feature businesses that are within 200 miles. Currently, all of their suppliers are within 100 miles. Because of this focus on the local economy, the market is limited right now to products that are readily available in the winter, such as meat, milk and honey. But, they will be adding fresh fruits and vegetables when they become available.

Due to the limited space, they can’t bring in every supplier who shows interest; preference goes to the nearest, in an effort to keep everything as local as possible. They also look at the practices and the passion of the producers. “[It’s] because we’re very passionate about what we do here, and what we’re doing,” Hals said. “And we want to get that same passion from them.”

In addition to products, they have a different community partner each month, while helping to raise awareness of that partner’s cause or program. 

Right now, they are partnered with the Garden of Edin, a program sponsored by the First United Presbyterian Church of Edinboro. They were previously partnered with the Erie County Health Department, who spoke on the importance of fresh foods. The market also has classes planned with the goal of connecting people with their food. Martz explained, “We are trying to be a gathering of ideas for the community as well.”

Nathan Hirth can be reached at eupnews.spectator@gmail.com.

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