Here for Good Market wraps up another summer
The weekly market in downtown Brainerd set up shop for one last time Tuesday, Aug. 30.
BRAINERD — Labor Day weekend often serves as the unofficial end to summer.
The last Friday traffic surge through Brainerd and Baxter. The last family outings before a new school year starts. The last hurrah before fall weather settles in.
For vendors at the Here For Good Market in downtown Brainerd, the end of the season was Tuesday, Aug. 30 — the last time they set up shop on South Seventh Street before the market ceased operation for the year.
Periodic wind gusts blew through, threatening some of the tents where vendors sold their goods, as the folksy tunes of local musician Bruce Archer rang through the street.
Thirteen booths lined South Seventh Street, with products like jewelry, baked goods, candles, quilts, mittens, books, mugs, signs, honey, produce, meat, kombucha and CBD items.
In its second season branded as the Here for Good Market, the weekly event headed by the Destination Downtown Brainerd Coalition brought vendors and musicians together 3-6 p.m. every Tuesday as a way to attract visitors to downtown Brainerd.
While there are other similar farmers markets in the area, Marie Kirsch, owner of Knotty Pine Bakery and member of the downtown coalition, said this one is unique because of its timing.
“We also heard from the community, like when we were trying to pick a date and time, that there’s a lot of farmers markets in the community, but they all seem to be in the morning, and so we decided to do an afternoon one to have more of an opportunity for people that work during the day and can’t make it to the morning ones to be able to come out and shop,” she said.
Standing with pup Leo, Kirsch set up a stand of her baked goods at one end of the market. Though not far from her Laurel Street shop, Kirsch said the market has a different feel than being inside the bakery.
“We love just coming and setting up out here as just another way to interact with customers and get people to shop down here,” she said.
Next to her was Charles Lewis, owner of Cholly’s Farm along with wife Molly. For Lewis, the market is a way to educate the community about his CBD and hemp products.
“We’re able to get the word out and let people know that CBD, hemp products are all natural and have been around for millions of years and everything,” he said.
Items like oils, soaps, energy bars, chocolate and lotions lined Lewis’ table, while a sign in front had information about the products and what they can do.
On the other side of Cholly’s Farm sat Tajia Anderson, selling handmade jewelry and home decor from TCBoutique.
“It’s been OK, a lot slower than last year,” Anderson said of the market, “but we’ve had a lot of very windy days and rainy days. The Tuesdays this year have been a little worse than last year because the weather has not been cooperating.”
Despite the weather — which drove her to take her tent down partway through Tuesday’s market — she still likes being able to get out and sell her stuff somewhere other than her Facebook page. She sells at vendor shows when she has the time and enjoys running into people who remember her from buying products in previous years.
Next door to TCBoutique was Doro Schumann and her various baked goods from Sugar Sweet Baking.
A cottage food baker, Schumann does all her baking from home.
“Cottage food has to sell from either over the internet, farmers markets or community events,” she said. “We are a little bit limited where we can sell, so farmers markets work great.”
This year’s market was a little quieter than last year, she said, but still a good opportunity.
“It’s nice to be out here with the public, the downtown Brainerd area, the people,” Schumann said.
Craig and Karla Axelson were next in line with their natural soy products from Sugarberry Creek Candle Co.
They, too, agreed the weather was a factor in bringing visitors to this year’s market, but it was still a way to get their name and product in front of people. They even ran into business owners interested in carrying their goods.
Bringing up the north end of the line was Clint Headley with Red Castle Fabrication.
Headley uses plasma cutting and laser engraving to create a range of products, including signs, mugs, glassware and various wooden items. The business mainly runs on referrals, so the market allows for a different approach to business.
“You never know what you’re going to get for foot traffic, and everybody’s looking for something different,” Headley said. “Some people don't know what they’re looking for until they see it.”
Across the street — next to Archer and his guitar — sat Yvonne, who declined to give her last name. A crafter of quilts, potholders, mittens, table runners and other handmade items, she typically sells her products at the gift shop in The Center or a shop by her cabin near Duluth. Yvonne said the market offered her a change of pace and another way to get her creations out there.
“I enjoy being out in the fresh air and meeting people,” she said.
Next door, authors Joe Prosit and T.J. Jones sat at a table lined with books. Members of the Lakes Area Writers Alliance, Prosit and Jones talked with passersby about their own works and a compilation of short stories written by a group of local authors.
“It’s always fun to talk to people, even if they don’t buy anything — you’re engaged with people,” Jones said.
And it’s a different way to sell their books, much of which typically takes place over the internet.
“This is kind of the first time I’ve done something like this, so it’s a cool experience,” Prosit said. “Most books that sell are sold online, so it’s really cool to meet people, interact with people, you know, even if they don’t buy a book.”
Jones also enjoyed being able to talk with visitors about his creative process, which is much easier to do in person rather than explaining it on Amazon.
On the writers’ other side stood a cooler of meats like bratwursts, bacon, ham steak and pork chops from Island Lake Farm.
Audra Chamberlin, who owns the business with husband Jim, set up at the market four times over the summer and saw it not only as a way to get her products out there but also as a benefit to the community and other farmers.
Island Lake Farm raises non-GMO pork on pasture, with some grain feeding as well. They typically rely on social media and word of mouth for the business.
“I think it’s really good,” Chamberlin said of the market. “Get the product out there, the name, get people looking at good food and eating good, healthy food, not processed food and stuff. I think that means a lot to a lot of farmers.”
Next door, Christine Desmond was enjoying the atmosphere and the sense of community the market brought as she sold her products from Pine River Mittens.
Desmond makes her mittens out of recycled sweaters, jeans and coats. Scraps not big enough for mittens go to her gnomes. Her stand also held earrings, which she makes from recycled jewelry.
“I love this market,” she said. “It’s a community. It’s got this amazing vibe. We’ve kind of built our own community because most of us have been here every week, and you’re feeling like you’re part of a more vibrant downtown than we’ve had. So it feels good. It has a great energy to it.”
She agreed with others that the unpredictable weather — like pouring rain and hail — made this year’s market a little tricky.
“But that’s Minnesota in the summer,” Desmond said. “We’ve got to put up with it.”
On Desmond’s other side, Bob Nibbe sold sweet corn, chrysanthemums and decorative kale and cabbage from Boys-N-Berries Farms.
Able to sell some of his fall products at the end of the summer, Nibbe started out the season by selling flowers and vegetable plants left over after his greenhouse closed for the spring.
“The market starts after we close, so we tend to use it just to keep our name in front of people,” he said.
The market is a way to remind people the business is still around and it will soon have things like pumpkins available for the fall.
“You can either pay for advertising, or you can go out and do it,” Nibbe said.
Plus, the sweet corn sold like hot cakes.
Jo Lange offered another sweet treat next door — honey.
She sold jars of unpasteurized, unfiltered, locally sourced honey from Nokay Honey on behalf of her son, Rob.
“It was wonderful to have this three-hour show,” she said. “It just takes up an afternoon instead of an entire day. Then to be right here in Brainerd is so close for us, so it was good for us to have this show.”
And the market allowed more exposure for Nokay Honey and another way to get the product out to consumers.
Bringing up the tail end of the market’s east side was Shawn Hopman, owner of Ya-Sure Kombucha in downtown Brainerd, offering a taste of his tea to visitors.
“It kind of raises awareness for our taproom,” he said. “People just kind of passing by that don’t usually hit that end of downtown find out about us, and we just kind of send them over there to try more flavors than we have at the market.”
He said the market also allows more collaboration with other downtown businesses, like Kirsch, who was just across the street from him with her bakery setup.
“It’s a pretty eclectic mix (of vendors), and we hope to keep growing in the community,” Kirsch said of the Here for Good Market.