Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Riverfront Market creators make community-building effort

Monday, September 3, 2012
Emily Scifers, owner of Laughing Stalk Farmstead, at her booth at the Cape Riverfront Market. Photo by Amber Hawkins

The creators of the Downtown Riverfront Market, a new farmer's market in Cape Girardeau, hope to set the market apart from others in the area . The ultimate goal of the market's creators, Levi Olson, Ross Peterson and Emily Scifers is to make the market more of a community building effort.

Market Coordinator Olson and owners of Laughing Stalk Farmstead, Peterson and Scifers wanted to create a weekend market that would cater to those who work or go to school during the week and cannot go to the Cape Farmer's Market held on Thursdays in The Town Plaza parking lot.

They also wanted to set up an entire market experience that includes music, free demonstrations and dietary guidance from a nutritionist, among other things.

Olson said that thousands of people showed up to the first day on March 5 and the following spring months. There was a small lull in attendance due to the produce shortage and heat during the dry months of the summer, but the market will run until October 27, and Olson expects the fall produce to attract a bigger crowd. Olson, who is also an investment adviser, said the market has economic viability.

"I'm all about the economics of this," Olson said. "I like the fact that these vendors can make a profit and spend it down the street at some shop. Then that shop owner can in turn spend that money in town, keeping the money circulating locally."

There are 24 regular vendors and five open rentable spaces in the market. It costs $7.50 to obtain a half space and $15 for a full space.

The market organizers make room for vendors of all types including those who sell unprocessed food, homemade goods and handmade crafts.

One such vendor is Down the Rabbit Hole, which handmakes jewelry and other crafts to sell at the market. Collaborators Stephani Schuchart and Heather Lawson say they have done well at the market so far.

"This market helps people feel like there is another option out there in the world to shop besides Walmart," Schuchart said. "Shopping local just makes the consumer feel better."

Another important aspect of the market is the music. Olson grew up in California and said he was used to seeing farmer's markets with music at every cross street. His vision includes having a new artist play each Saturday at the market. He welcomes any artists or bands to contact him about playing unplugged at the market. He hopes that even though the gig does not pay, the market will attract musicians from Southeast Missouri State University.

Olson, along with collaborators Peterson and Scifers, hopes to expand the community building aspect of the market by creating more activities and demonstrations that cater to families and children.

The Downtown Riverfront Market is held on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon on Spanish Street in the parking lot across from Bel-Air Bar & Grill in downtown Cape Girardeau.

"The reason why we are successful is we took what the city wanted and made it happen," Olson said.