Guest Editorial: Thanks to Community for Supporting the Market

The Fairfield Farmers and Artisans market would like to thank the public for the outpouring of support for the market. All the Saturday morning visits, the participation in fundraisers, the donations, and the encouragement makes our efforts worth it.

As many know, the market was told they would have to pay the county’s $50/hour rate rental fee to continue to use the market. This information was given to us at the beginning of the season, after applications and fees had been collected for the year.

Fees collected from vendors pay the annual insurance for the market and help us have funds for advertising, etc. We could not go back and ask vendors to pay to cover this new expense.

The market was told that the rent issue would get resolved early, but they had to impose the fee.

Let me just say the market is not against paying to use the building, but should the rate of rent be the same as other county buildings? The market building in its current state can only be used as a mercantile – nothing else.

We tried several times to get the county to negotiate; we could not get any return calls or emails. Nothing. Ignored. We had to come up with ways to raise money to pay the rent to keep the market open. The market is a non-profit and generates no income. Being a nonprofit for less than a year made us ineligible for grants. We raised money with raffles and a pre-sale of chicken bog.

We started the hashtag #savethemarket. The public took notice of the hashtag and wanted to know more. When we explained the rent situation, they started to contact their county representatives. With the public support, we were able to get a meeting with county administration and two council members to discuss a resolution. It was only with public pressure that we were able to make that happen.

Several options were discussed, and council voted in an August meeting to reduce the rental fees for nonprofits to $25/hour. The Market requested that the fee be waived for the remainder of the season since we had paid the $50/hour rate for the majority of the season. The difference would cover our fees until the end of the season under the new rates.

And remember the issue was to be taken care of early on, but to no avail until we had public support. The council refused our request and refuses to even allow it to come to a vote. But they will vote on a tax increase and back date that to July.

The market is an important community component, and it will continue with or without the support of council. The market started in 2012 in the Napa parking lot with four vendors. This year we had 59 vendors signed up for the year. That’s a great market for a small rural community.

Again, thank you to our community for your support.

Valerie Clowney, Vendor of Fairfield Farmers and Artisans Market

Contact us: (803) 767-5711 | P.O. Box 675, Blythewood, SC 29016 | [email protected]