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The Owners of This Texas Farmers Market Took a Big Gamble. Here's How It Paid Off Bigger Than They Dreamed. A Texas farmers market educates customers about the importance of shopping local for a healthy lifestyle and an even healthier small business community.

By Emily Washcovick

Key Takeaways

  • Engage with your customers to learn from each other. Friendly service and open conversations can turn a small business into a thriving community.
  • Preparation is key to smooth business operations, especially if your business has a unique schedule or mission. Make sure your customers know what to expect ahead of time by communicating with them via online platforms.
  • Visiting and reviewing small businesses is an important way to help them grow and sustain your local economy.
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Courtesy of Fall Creek Farmers Market

Fall Creek Farmers Market in Humble, Texas, is not just a spot to stop by for your Sunday morning coffee and a fresh vegetable or two. Owners Jonathan and Andrea Haskin built this vibrant space with a vision to change their community's food shopping habits and educate their customers on the importance of buying fresh and local items.

The couple came up with the idea for the market in 2015 when they started taking a longer look at what kind of food they had available to them and realized they had to travel far and wide just to source quality ingredients from local farmers. What would happen if they brought their community closer to the source?

Related: Top Health and Wellness Franchises

To their delight, the Haskin's neighbors embraced the concept. Situated in the beautiful Fall Creek neighborhood, the market's outdoor setup is near a golf course and several walking trails, drawing tons of people and their pets into the space every Sunday morning.

Jonathan and Andrea prioritize being present in their space and providing a personalized experience for every visitor. Getting set up two hours before the market opens and staying until the last group trickles out, the pair walk around to greet and share their story with customers. In the market's early days, their daughters sat at the entrance making bracelets for shoppers as they walked in.

This community feel is what drew in reviewer Forest B., now a regular visitor of Fall Creek Farmers Market. "All of the vendors were so personable, willing to share advice and their specific stories," his review reads. "I particularly enjoyed the cultural diversity. So much to learn at each booth."

With 20+ vendors spanning global cuisines, there is no limit to the kind of food you can sample at Fall Creek Farmers Market. On his first visit alone, Forest tried a Colombian coffee blend, two empanada flavors, Vietnamese egg rolls, and an Italian ice dessert. The cherry on top was getting to engage with the vendors themselves, learning firsthand about their products and journeys.

Related: 4 Reasons Why You Should Enter the Health and Wellness Industry

"One [vendor] that's not mentioned in my review is the Indian couple who serve prepared foods there," Forest said. "They are a little bit older. That's completely different, say, from the couple who owns Frostbite, which is the Italian ice vendor. They're youngsters and [are] actually looking to you to provide them information on your journey here in the United States. So you just learn quite a bit about the people. Sometimes people are a little surprised to find out that you know a lot about topics in their areas, but the way you learn a lot is by talking to people and being open and receptive."

Forest's experience is a perfect example of Jonathan and Andrea's educational ecosystem in action. First and foremost, the market aims to teach its visitors about the importance of fresh, quality food. The Haskins ensure their vendors share this passion and make an effort to educate every customer who visits their booth. 90% of Fall Creek's vendors farm and ranch full-time. Some even take agriculture classes at Texas A&M.

"They live it as we do," Jonathan said. "And it starts from the inside. We are really passionate about immersing ourselves into the market, and we are very selective with who we allow [to be] a part of our team."

Jonathan and Andrea's goal is to be the tipping point that pushes customers into the world of local food shopping, and they've found that preparation is key. They engage with customers online ahead of each sale to make sure they have all the information they need for a smooth visit. Because offerings shift each week to spice things up for shoppers and ensure seasonal produce stays front and center, Jonathan and Andrea provide a list of vendors and produce options in advance to help customers plan their meals and build out their grocery lists before arriving at the market.

Related: How This Healthy Food App Scored a $200K Investment

The most faithful customers do around 80% of their food shopping at Falls Creek Farmers Market, which was the vision the owners had in mind when they set out to build a business.

"It's not a craft show. It's not a bake sale. You can actually come and get your pastured eggs and real items," Jonathan said. "Knowing where your food is from is a big deal. It's like getting a root canal or heart surgery. So it feels really good to be able to serve and to be able to give them access as we have it."

Not only is shopping locally good for your health, but it's good for the local economy. Forest stressed the importance of spending your money and time at small businesses.

"Business owners typically are here from other countries. [They] come from backgrounds in which there was virtually no safety net, so they bring their knowledge to the United States. When I'm looking at these businesses, I'm looking at how I can learn more so I can help other people in the community continue to start these small businesses that make our economy run."

Beyond making visits, reviewing is a powerful way customers can show support. Jonathan and Andrea take every review they receive to heart, always looking to expand the offerings and inclusivity of their space. They find it important to stay receptive to feedback, keeping the dialogue with customers open, genuine, and full of love.

In addition to prioritizing customer education and building community, Falls Creek Farmers Market believes:

  • Passion starts from the inside. Put love and care into what you do and it will trickle down to your partners and employees—and ultimately your customers.
  • Preparation is key. Communicate online with your customers ahead of a sale so they know what to expect. Plus, make time to help out with any problems that come up.
  • Supporting local is a great way to learn new things. Opening up your mind and heart to small businesses might just help you discover an important lifestyle change.

Listen to the episode below to hear directly from Jonathan, Andrea, and Forest, and subscribe to Behind the Review for more from new business owners and reviewers every Thursday.

Available on: Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Pandora and Soundcloud.

Editorial contributions by Callie Morgan and Kristi Lindahl.

Emily Washcovick

Small Business Expert at Yelp

As Yelp’s Small Business Expert, Emily is meticulously focused on helping local business owners succeed and grow. Her expertise lies in customer engagement, reputation management, and all things digital marketing. Through speaking engagements and thought leadership, Emily shares industry insights that entrepreneurs in any business category can leverage for the growth and well-being of their businesses. She is also the host of Behind the Review, a podcast from Yelp and Entrepreneur Media, where each episode features conversations with a business owner and a reviewer about the story and lessons behind their interactions.

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