NORWALK, Conn. -- Vendors at the Rowayton Farmers Market in Pinkney Park are celebrating National Farmers Market Week, saying that getting out into the community allows them to better connect with customers.
"They definitely help provide a base for small companies who are starting off," said Steve Gherardi of Local Legends, a chip company launched by the owners of Milk Sono and Rowayton Seafood. Gherardi said the company, which started this summer, has built word-of-mouth success by selling at local farmers markets such as the one in Rowayton.
"It gives us a chance to start off slowly and introduce the taste to customers, and eventually get shelf space in stores," he said.
Cordy Kelly began selling Kelly's Four Plus Granola at the Maritime Rowing Club in South Norwalk a few years ago and then moved to farmers markets. Selling the handmade granola products at markets has helped the family-run business create a more personal experience for customers, her son Nate said.
"The direct customer interaction is big for us. At a grocery store we could just be another item on the shelf, but here it's great, we get to interact with people we know and it brings a face to the company," Nate Kelly said.
They bag all the granola by hand, instead of selling it prepackaged, which adds to the uniqueness and freshness of the buying experience, he said. "They feel like they're a valued customer, not just another dollar in the bank. They feel appreciated."
Charlie Stout started Non-Stop Donut Shop last summer with a couple of fellow Darien High School graduates. The college junior and his partners now travel to several farmers markets and other festivals with their mini-doughnuts.
"We make them right in front of people, so they're fresh and hot," Stout said. "It also gives us a chance to interact with other vendors, heard about other farmers markets and other events we can go to."
Eileen Duffy is a fashion designer who started making tablecloths and linens out of handbag materials. She now sells her "Garden to Table" table liners, placemats and coasters at several farmers markets.
"I'm here every Friday," Duffy said. "It's the most beautiful location of all the farmers markets I do. People here are very supportive of the arts community."