In thinking back ten years about the markets, here are some of my thoughts…
The Burnaby Farmers’ Market has been beneficial to me, being able to be independent and not having to take a minimal wage job somewhere. It is good for everyone’s general health to keep active in the later years, so I will continue to grow my garden, keep my bees, and cook my preserves to keep my customers at the markets supplied with my products they love, and carry on.
In 2004, I had just taken early retirement from my government job. Since I am not one to sit around and do nothing, I decided then to start my business making preserves, as I had been making preserves of all kinds for over 30 years already, and had previously written and taught a course in home canning at Burnaby night school. I was 14 years younger then than now, and I was eager to build my business. I am now 69 going on 70 and have less energy and stamina, and have to consider carefully what I spend my energy on.
I started out with Coquitlam Farmers Market, then Maple Ridge, and Pitt Meadows, as well as some one day events that came up. I was very happy to join Artisan Farmers’ Markets Society for the Burnaby Farmers’ Market when it first started in 2008, as it was 10 minutes from home for me, whereas Maple Ridge Farmers Market on the same day required travelling one hour each way and having to leave home about 6:00 AM, getting up at 5:00 AM. Some days at the markets I had good sales, and other days sales did not cover the vendor fee. I always hoped for a minimum of $100 to make the day somewhat worth it.
I now have faithful customers, some of whom come back to me and say “That was the best raspberry jam I ever had in my life”, or “I am in serious shortage of lime marmalade”, and other such comments. That has kept me going. My home-based business was never going to pay the mortgage, but it did provide extra funds over and above my pension for unexpected expenses that came up, and for raising my honeybees.
In 2013, when my BC pension dropped significantly, I needed to cut one thing and then another from my expenses. I stopped all the other markets I was involved with except for the Burnaby Farmers’ Market since everyone requires their own membership fees on top of the vendor fees. So I now carry on with the Burnaby market and some of the other events that come my way.
In 2016, after having major surgery in July, I was out of commission for the rest of the year, so couldn’t do any markets until December. This is when I realized just how much I rely on the profits from my business sales. I had no sales for five months in 2016 and I realized how much I relied on the profits from my markets when I did not have any funds in the bank for 2017 business expenses.
To run a business in Burnaby, I need a home-based business license, which increased from $92 to $132 this year. Then, I had additional expenses of water tax and unexpected major brake job on the car. The pension does not cover these extras, so I am grateful to have started my business fourteen years ago, with the Burnaby Farmers’ Market opening up so close to my home ten-year years ago.
PS. I want people to know that my philosophy has been to produce and sell my products locally with locally and homegrown produce, inspired by my mom and dad before me who started gardening in Burnaby in 1944.