Virginia Karlsbroten, Laurie Wendel, Donna Rasmussen and Becky Selness stand with the “barn quilts” they created through a Spring Grove Community Education program. The corn quilt will be given to the owners of the Mabel Farmers Market property, while the other will be given away as part of the market’s fall raffle.  DAVID STOEGER/NEWS-RECORD
Virginia Karlsbroten, Laurie Wendel, Donna Rasmussen and Becky Selness stand with the “barn quilts” they created through a Spring Grove Community Education program. The corn quilt will be given to the owners of the Mabel Farmers Market property, while the other will be given away as part of the market’s fall raffle. DAVID STOEGER/NEWS-RECORD
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Board members, vendors and shoppers of Mabel's Simple Living Farmers Market discussed the possibility of a winter farmers market, advertising and how the possibility of a new grocery store in Mabel could affect them at their kick-off meeting on Thursday, Jan. 30.

About two-dozen interested parties were in attendance at the Mabel American Legion for the informational meeting, which was led by board members Kathy Newman and Virginia Karlsbroten.

Winter market?

Participants brought up the idea of holding a winter farmers market Saturday mornings at the Mabel American Legion.

"I suppose I kinda missed it when we shut down last year (in the fall), but then it was really nice sleeping in on Saturday mornings," said chairperson Kathy Newman with a chuckle.

"It may be doable, but I am not saying it would be every Saturday morning," said committee member Virginia Karlsbroten. "Different times they (American Legion) have different functions in here on Saturdays...maybe even a couple times a month might be doable."

"We will certainly research it," Newman said.

Possible grocery store

"The other thing we will probably have to do is contact the people who are doing the new grocery store (in Mabel)," Newman said.

The committee that is looking to build the Mabel Community Market is right now in the process of applying for a grant to demolish four vacant downtown buildings in order to make room for the new store.

"It would be a good possibility if you could sell some produce (at the grocery store)," one participant added.

Advertising, promotion and growth

The group then discussed advertising, promotion and other ways to grow the market.

"If you see some publication that you feel we should be in, then please bring it to our attention because it may be something that we are not aware of," said Karlsbroten.

"If anybody got any ideas how we can grow this, or know somebody that does...we've got room for I bet another 20 people (vendors) out there. We are one of the few (markets) that is actually accessible to the handicapped and people with limited mobility...and that is huge to be able to shop from your car," Newman added.

Larger signs on each side of Highway 44 were discussed, but were dismissed because of the regulations and the distractions that come with such signs along the road. "We are OK with the one (sign) that is on the site, but that's it," Newman said.

"We just have to spread the word and encourage people to be vendors and shoppers, I guess. We are going to spend more dollars to advertise, we have some money in the account now," Karlsbroten said.

Rates for vendors

Board members reported that the fees for vendors will go unchanged for the 2014 season at $15 each week or $60 for the entire season, which includes insurance.

"We have said for a new vendor, if they want to come and try it for the $15 - then we will allow them to (pay it) in increments. But only for somebody who is brand new who has no idea whether it is going to be profitable for them or not. I hope that is one way of getting a few people to come out and see if this is what they want to do," Newman said.

Weather and road construction challenges

The group also discussed the challenges that the 2013 season brought, which included a late spring, flooding in June and road construction on Highway 44.

The group plans to start the market the last two Saturdays in April, which would put the first market on April 19, weather permitting, at the same location, north of Mabel off Highway 44.

"We just hope that next year we don't have the weather we had (last) year, and the road is (now) done," Newman emphasized.

"Barn quilt" raffle

Market participants Becky Selness, Laurie Wendel, Virginia Karlsbroten and Donna Rasmusson reported they created two "barn quilts" while participating in a Spring Grove Community Education program.

One of the "barn quilts" will be given to the owners of the property the market uses to show them appreciation for the use of the land and the other will be given as a prize in the fall as a raffle item.

Next meeting

The Simple Living Farmers Market board will hold its first business meeting of the season on Tuesday, Feb. 25, at 6 p.m. at the Mabel American Legion.