GLOVERSVILLE, NY — Gloversville was the heart of leatherworking and glove making for over 150 years. However, as the industry began to decline so did the economy of Gloversville. A once thriving downtown has been slowing down ever since the leather factories left. In hopes of remedying this problem, Jennifer Jennings, a Gloversville Downtown Development Specialist, has created a new twist on farmers markets in Gloversville. The aim of the new Twilight Market is to not only allow producers an open market to sell their goods, but also a way in which to get more foot traffic on Main Street.
July 14 debuted the first ever Twilight Market. The threat of inclement weather forced a move of the farmers market to the Elm Street Pavillion instead of a location on Main Street. However, even with the last minute change of venue and inclement weather more than 450 people came out to enjoy the festivities. Each month includes a theme for the activities. August’s theme will be a Glove City Celebration and will feature historic walking tours, Glove City trivia and a children’s chalk contest and September’s theme will be a Fresh Start Market that will trend toward children going back to school and will include kids activities, a free movie showing and music. All activities are family friendly and aim toward getting people out and having fun. Weather permitting the next Twilight Market will be held right on Main Street. Jennings points out the reasoning for holding the farmers market portion on the street, “We want to bring people up and down the street to revive city business.” Jennings believes the Twilight Market will grow each month as the event gains momentum.
Held the second Friday of each month the Twilight Market brings families out for a night on the town. Events were spread throughout the downtown area including face painting and other activities at the Mohawk Harvest Cooperative Market and the Glove Theater, which showed a free screening. A common reason why residents don’t go out as much anymore is simply the lack of things to do downtown. Jennings hopes that this downtown driven farmers market is a way to encourage more business in the heart of Gloversville. “The whole idea is to bring people downtown and have a fun night out,” said Jennings.
Elizabeth and Richard Rugen who operate Hope Valley Farm out of Hope Falls, NY came out to sell their produce at the farmers market. “Jen (Jennifer Jennings) asked us to participate to help build up Gloversville so we came out,” says Elizabeth Rugen. Hope Valley Farm is an organic produce and potted flower producer who found a promising market at the Gloversville Twilight Market.
Stump City Brewing was also at the first Twilight Market however, due to a city code ordinance, alcohol is not allowed to be served or consumed on city property. While there is currently a proposal to alter the city code for public events for this event Stump City Brewing handed out free sampling coupons to their tasting room.
Local events and community driven activities are a great way to improve a local economy. In a 2002 survey of over 800 customers from a multitude of farmers markets around the United States, PPS (Project for Public Spaces) discovered that 60 percent of market shoppers also visited nearby stores on the same day; of those, 60 percent said that they visited those additional stores only on days that they visit the market. To reinforce these findings a 2006 study on farmers markets in Ontario also found that an overwhelming majority of farmers market customers also patronize at least one nearby store on their way to or from the market, with many visiting two or more stores in the same trip.
While Gloversville has had farmers markets in the past they generally did not incorporate other downtown businesses in the mix. Incorporating family outing activities into the local economy means more fun (and money) for everyone.