Chain Store Selling at City Market

The Great Harvest chain has set up shop at the City Market, Graham Moomaw writes in the Daily Progress, and that’s got some local farmers upset. The market, overseen by the city, is meant to connect customers with local food producers, and over 100 folks have their names on a waiting list to get a spot at the popular weekly event. The Great Harvest Bread Company is a Montana-based chain, with hundreds of locations across the United States, established on a philosophy of providing more local control to franchisees than most chains. The city says that they were not aware that Great Harvest was a chain, although it’s not clear what difference that would have made in the application process. The owner of the local franchise says that there’s nothing wrong with allowing chains into the farmers’ market, while a couple of critics argue that, by that logic, Subway or Panera could set up shop there.

This debate has unfolded at farmers’ markets across the country, with some markets remaining dedicated to selling local produce, and others turning into something closer to weekly open-air markets for chains. Which approach is better depends on what each community thinks that the purpose of a farmers’ market is. We may be about to find out what the purpose of our farmers’ market is.

182 Responses to “Chain Store Selling at City Market”


  • Chains shouldn’t be allowed at the market unless there is a surplus of room–and currently, there is not. Local vendors should have precedence. On a side note, I think the owners of Great Harvest are a bit clueless with the assumption that because they’re selling a lot of bread that must mean everyone wants them there.

  • A lot of people (myself included) probably didn’t know that Great Harvest is part of a franchise. The local owners are *very* involved in the community — supporting the Buford Garden, sharing bread at local races (the 10-miler, the Montalto Challenge, etc.), helping spread the word of local foods, and more. I wouldn’t classify them in the same category as Panera at all.

  • I was kind of surprised by the quoted comments from the bakery-franchise guy, namely, “What I think might be going on is one person is really bothered by it. Let’s just say a very, very small minority are bothered by this and are going around trying to raise some trouble,” and “You’d think if this were a big issue, I wouldn’t be selling anything and I definitely would’ve gotten some complaints to my face. And none of that has happened.”

    What surprised me was the tone and the apparent attempt to minimize and dismiss (“one person is really bothered,” “a very, very small minority…trying to raise trouble”) what are very legimitate questions and concerns about the relationship of the City Market to local businesses. It would seem to be a lot smarter and more strategic to voice some sympathy for the position of those with questions and express a commitment to working together, etc. Based on his tone and dismissive comments, I’m now far less likely to support the idea of GHBC having a spot at the market.

  • The local owners are *very* involved in the community — supporting the Buford Garden, sharing bread at local races (the 10-miler, the Montalto Challenge, etc.), helping spread the word of local foods, and more. I wouldn’t classify them in the same category as Panera at all.

    Buy why? Just because they donate stuff? Walmart donates a lot of stuff—are they not a chain? Does Panera not donate stuff? Isn’t it possible that they donate stuff, too, but in portions of the community that you don’t participate in? And is stuff donated really the yardstick that we want to use?

    I don’t ask this to disagree, but in an attempt to determine what the difference is here, so that it could be applied as a standard for the market. If Panera is in the “chain” category, but Great Harvest is not, why?

    Incidentally, I stumbled across the owners’ blog a couple of years ago, when they were moving to Charlottesville to open their franchise, and I was surprised to discover it was a chain. They really seemed to be going out of their way to not call up that it was a chain, and they can’t be happy about a big article in the newspaper that points that out. I think that might be why the owner was minimizing the complaints—perhaps he was hoping to convince the reporter that there’s not really a story here.

    On that blog, they wrote something that really rubbed me the wrong way. They wrote that they’d done lots of research, and their conclusion was that Charlottesville really needed a local bakery making fresh bread. Really? Are their research skills so bad that they were not aware of BreadWorks, Albemarle Baking Company, Mission Home, or any of our half-dozen other, smaller bread bakeries? Or were they actually implying that Breadworks and ABC make bread that is of inferior quality? Either way, I walked away with a less-than-stellar impression before they’d even started their business.

  • It’s not just donating “stuff” — the folks at Great Harvest also give their time too.

    That’s not to say that I support Great Harvest over ABC, Breadworks, and other locally-owned bakeries (all of which I buy baked goods from), but I certainly wouldn’t lump them in with Walmart.

  • At the farmer’s market I’d rather see a small local vendor trying to make a living than a chain with a commercial kitchen at its disposal. It doesn’t matter how much Great Harvest gives to the community, they’re still a chain taking up space that a genuine local vendor could use. And Matt Monson’s boast about how they sell more bread than anyone simply shows that they have the ability to bake much more bread than a small vendor.

    The online impression I’ve gotten from the GH couple isn’t positive. They seem smug and arrogant.

  • Claire and Waldo, you bring up excellent points. And if GH is the top selling bread vendor at the City Market, maybe that’s because customers had no idea they’re a chain. I used to boycott a different seller at the city market (I’m not sure if he’s still there) after learning that his produce came from a distributer and was about as local as what is sold at Food Lion. But he was a very popular vendor–people just didn’t know.

    Great Harvest has an unfair advantage. Is it really fair for them to say that their product is “high quality” when they’re competing against bakers who don’t necessarily have a staff to help with baking or a large professional space to work in?

    Their presence at the City Market is inappropriate. I don’t care how much of their time and bread they donate.

  • No problem with them at the market but why did they get priority on the waiting list?

  • Webster52, a cynical person might say that their huge business was considered most likely to bring in more profit for the market overall and that’s how they got bumped to the top of the list.

  • I am shocked by the arrogant response by the owner, Matt Monson. If Great Harvest is so popular, and has such high sales, all the more reason they should not be at the farmers market. They have a store front, and if people really like their bread so much, they can shop there any day they please.

    Most of the vendors at the farmers’ market don’t have store fronts, they don’t have massive sales coming in every day, and this is their only opportunity to get their products out to customers. If Matt and Kath care so much about the local movement, they should know better than using the farmers’ market as a place to promote their franchise.

    Who cares whether their customers feel like it’s not a franchise when they walk through their doors? At the end of the day, it’s a franchise, they are stealing a spot from a farmer who is genuinely local and needs it more.

    I will never shop at their store now– especially since, of all the bakeries in Cville, they are the lowest in my opinion.

  • Waldo, their research probably consisted of finding the highest income college town without a franchise.

    Patience, I also despair of the obvious truck farmers, where truck means bought from a tractor trailer. Or maybe they’re not all so obvious!

    It’s a fascinating mix down there of customers who shop by price, by image, and just obliviously! For example, coffee prices went up fifty cents when one vendor left, showing that prices do matter, but it’s also the best farmers market for vendors, in price and volume. A franchisee has an advantage in both image & price.

    It’s also fascinating how it takes some counter-market forces to create an interesting space that is successful long term. If a Starbucks set up at the farmers market, they would make sales, but long term not contribute to what brings people there in the first place. People may graze at the golden arches, but they set up camp in the castle. Because it has museums.

  • I have a huge problem with the presence of a chain at a local market. I think the owner’s response was dismissive and rude. Just because a store may or may not “feel” like a franchise, or because it’s popular, does not in any way justify their spot in the market.
    Based on the waitlist, there is no doubt that these people are literally taking a spot from an actual local farmer who would use the market as his/her primary source of income. I think the owners are just plain selfish, and I hope the City Market realizes that having a chain will hurt them in the long run, and give their spot to someone who deserves it.

  • The reason Great Harvest was given a spot even though there is a waiting list is that the market needed a bakery, and they try to keep a variety of vendors at the market. The 100s of vendors who are waiting for a spot are largely craft-related vendors, NOT food vendors. I feel like the Cville News has done a very poor job of reporting this VERY important fact.

  • I’m a purist: it’s called the *Farmers* market. Non-farmers need not apply.

    Crafters, jewelers, and knick-knack sellers please go away.

    Bread and baked goods? If the grain, honey, eggs and butter are local, then sure. Otherwise, no thanks.

    We love our farmers. The market is best when focused on celebrating local agriculture and local food.

  • I feel like the Cville News has done a very poor job of reporting this VERY important fact.

    You should cancel your subscription. Those guys are jerks, anyway:

  • I think it means a lot that you can go into Great Harvest and not realize it is a franchise. The owners are always in there working on their business, they sell a bunch of locally produced items, they get produce from the Local Food Hub, and people mentioned above all their community involvement… what is the real concern with their store being a franchise? Is it that money is leaving the community? It seems like the 7% mentioned in the article is a small price to pay for all they do in the community.

    By the way, there is a big difference between “chain” and “franchise.”

  • Dez– sure, there is a difference between a chain and a franchise, but Subway, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Dunkin’ Donuts and 7-11 are all franchises. People would throw a fit if they were at a farmer’s market– yet the people who own them are probably ‘local.’ I think the reason why people unanimously aren’t agreeing that GH should not be part of the farmers market is simply because they aren’t as big and well known as the other franchises that I have mentioned…

  • “I think it means a lot that you can go into Great Harvest and not realize it is a franchise.”

    It depends: if you’re talking about window-dressing, about marketing oneself as a local business, about the look-and-feel of a “local business” without actually being a local business, then to me it does NOT mean a lot.

    “The owners are always in there working on their business…”–okay, good for them. But that doesn’t make them more local than anyone else.

    What are the locally produced items they sell? What/how much produce do they get from the Local Food Hub? These could be great, winning points that could open up a very productive discussion of what qualifies as “local” and how that category might be a flexible one. It’s unfortunate that the male owner of the GHBC apparently didn’t take that route when he made his comments to the DP (that’s “Daily Progress,” Mary, which is the news outlet that actually reported on this story).

    I think one of the concerns with giving city market space to a franchise of a national chain is that some people believe the city market is there to support local farmers/small businesses who don’t have a storefront and/nor any national backing — folks who need a boost in order to compete with something that has major resources behind it. It’d be like if I decided to start a business making tarts, and everything I bought was locally grown/produced, and I was too small of a business to have a storefront and I was hoping to get a foothold in the City Market (Jeff, it’s not actually called a Farmer’s Market — see here). And I was competing for that market table with a franchise of the Great Tart Company, a chain based in Idaho. The franchise has enormous resources behind it that my little tart company doesn’t. And so I think it’s entirely legitimate to ask “what is the purpose of the City Market” — is it simply to sell stuff, or is it to support certain kinds of businesses that don’t get an edge elsewhere?

  • Louise Cat Amour

    I (and I am sure many others) go to City Markets for the sole purpose of buying local produce that may not be available to purchase elsewhere. I would be VERY disappointed to visit a market and find a chain store selling goods. Why bother going, when I could go to their store in any number of locations, any day of the week? It doesn’t matter how involved the owners are in the community – as owners of a successful chain store, they should make an effort to get involved, and it doesn’t mean that in doing so they get a free pass to behave selfishly. I found the owners response to be extremely arrogant and frankly he came across as a tool. If he could not come up with a gracious response he should have simply left it at ‘no comment’.

    After reading the comments I googled the owners blog – what struck me as hilarious is that her blog is centered around ‘real food’, and while I am not disputing that Great Harvest uses high quality ingredients and produces many healthy ‘real food’ options, surely she should be able to see that it is wrong for her chain store to take away a place at the market from a local farmer who is indeed selling local, fresh, organic real food? It strikes me as a case of talking the talk but being unable to walk the walk.

    Mary – do you work for the City Market? I am curious as to how you are so sure that the majority of the waiting list are craft vendors?

  • So now everyone knows this is a franchise business so folks can choose not to buy from them at the City Market. Perhaps, the rules need to be changed for the future? I can’t quite see why this is a big deal, though as a loyal Bread Works customer, I have no idea why they would have thought Charlottesville needed them!

  • I visited this GH bakery/cafe a few weeks ago. Apparently they don’t have onions available for sandwiches. What is that madness about!?

  • I have frequented Kath Younger’s blog for a while now. She has an interesting mix of followers on the Internet. An entire online community is devoted to criticizing her blog. Mrs. Younger sent a ceast and desist letter to this website for using one of her images. That kind of activity is protected under fair use. Nonetheless, there are a lot of interesting views on the Younger/Monsons.

  • From what I’ve read on the owner’s wife’s blog, she doesn’t like onions, so apparently customers aren’t allowed to eat them either.

  • Molly: simply because the owner Kath hates onions, however she is never at the store but she also doesn’t want her husband to smell like onions.

  • A franchised, chain bakery has no place at a farmer’s market! I’m not faulting the owners (although they are some of the rudest and most arragont people I’ve encountered…I certainly wouldn’t give them my business). Why were they allowed to be there in the first place? I don’t get why a chain bakery was given a spot over local farmers.

  • Molly, apparently one of the owners–Kath, the writer of the food “blog”–can’t stand the taste or smell of onions. So they do not offer onions at their franchise so she doesn’t have to smell them when she comes in to help out, I guess.

  • I’ve never been to GHBC (happy enough with bread from ABC, I guess), but I’m certainly piling up reasons not to go out of my way to try it! I like onions.

  • What a pompous, arrogant comment from the owner, Matt.

    I will not be paying money for Great Harvest bread; instead, I will visit the independent bread stores in town that are genuine, friendly and local.

  • I have a simple solution: set up the farmer’s market GH stand right next to a raw onion stand. Problem solved.

    ETA: another vote for Albemarle Baking Company and Breadworks. Great bread and wonderful customer service.

  • The arrogance of Matt Monsoon comes across in the linked article. He feels he is ‘entitled’ to be there. I really don’t know how the owners can justify their presence at a FARMERS market.

  • Good Lord, I had no idea I was opening up such a can of worms here.

    In an effort to re-focus the conversation, I’d like to highlight Claire’s question:

    And so I think it’s entirely legitimate to ask “what is the purpose of the City Market” — is it simply to sell stuff, or is it to support certain kinds of businesses that don’t get an edge elsewhere?

    It’s really not at all productive to assert that Great Harvest should or should not be at the market, and leave it at that. I think it’s much more interesting to consider if we want the sort of farmers’ market where Great Harvest and businesses like it are permitted to have space (to the inherent loss of others who do not get space as a result), and what “businesses like it” really means. If Great Harvest is permitted, what other businesses would inherently be permitted in as a result? And how would their participation in the market enhance or detract from the market?

  • some here have mentioned one purpose of City Market to offer retail space for those without a store front. but there are several businesses at the Market with full retail spots; from l’etoile to Baker’s Palette to Pantheon Popsicles to Shen Joe coffee. if all these folks aren’t back for 2012 I’m sure it’s not because they were turned away due to having a storefront.

    and this discussion has gotten away from that of chain stores, to being very personal against the GHBC owners. I don’t know them and don’t shop there but City Market is full of arrogant, as*****, running a space. I bet if the DP asked for their quote some would speak improperly. just don’t give them your business.

  • I’d prefer that the purpose be to support certain kinds of businesses that don’t get an edge elsewhere. I think if someone has a retail store where they can sell their products then they shouldn’t be taking up space at the market. Once a chain like GH gets their toe in the door, others will probably follow.

  • For those wondering where all of the new folks of strong anti-GH opinion are coming from, it appears to be from this discussion on the “Get Off My Internets” blog. I gather they’re not really big fans of the folks who own the business. (That’s putting it mildly. :)

  • Louise Cat Amour

    Waldo Jaquith – I don’t think it’s fair to say; “all of the new folks of strong anti-GH opinion are coming from, it appears to be from this discussion on the “Get Off My Internets” blog.” While I’m sure there may be some members from this forum you have linked to commenting on this piece, I for one googled the store owners blog after you mentioned it and drawn my conclusions from what I read there, not an online forum, and I’m sure other people have done the same.

  • Wow. Both Matt’s comments and Kath’s blog scream self-involved, egotistical, entitled, and out of touch. I mean, the fact that their Facebook image is a picture of THEM rather than their BRAND’S LOGO is a sign of how highly they hold themselves.

    I know they’re young, but working hard for a business you partially own does not equate to being entitled to, well, anything. Lots of business owners — local and franchise — work long hours with little profit. Have they considered what their business might look like if it were ACTUALLY a local business rather than a franchise with the support of a larger organization? Because as much as Matt thinks his business “LOOKS” local, looks don’t factor in the hard work it takes to create a real local business; and it’s offensive for him to think it’s okay to commandeer the local-business aesthetic as if it is the only thing “local” is about.

    Overall, Matt’s comments come off as completely unsympathetic; if he were savvy at all he would have expressed some sympathy for local business who feel slighted by a situation that is technically not his fault. And wasn’t his wife in public relations at one point? I swear I read an article a year or so ago on The Daily Progress about her, and if she is indeed former PR anything why isn’t she the one responding to this?

    I don’t understand Kath’s position in the bakery at all. I’ve never seen her there, and based on her blog it seems she eats a lot of Great Harvest bread, writes confusing sentences, and does… nothing? I don’t get these people, I don’t get the no onions thing, and I won’t be buying any of their food. Not because they aren’t local, but because they’re smarmy and tried to pull one over on our community without even an apology.

  • It seems to me that the GH owners shouldn’t really be faulted for this, as all they did was apply to be at the market. The fault really lies with the market organizers who didn’t look into the fact that GH is a franchise. I can also see why Matt responded so defensively, since he probably felt like he had to defend his business. As for Kath, I just checked out the blog, and I’d advise ya’ll to stay away from it– unless you want to fall asleep reading about the bland foods that a pregnant lady eats for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Seriously, that’s all her blog seems to be. The only fascinating thing about it seems to be the fact it has given her enough success and revenue for her to simply sit at home and update short food journal entries for a living. This seems so strange to me…? And whoever posted about the onions above can’t possibly be serious?? She doesn’t like onions so the sandwiches at the bakery she doesn’t work at can’t have them either?

  • I grew up in Northern Virginia so I was familiar with Great Harvest when they opened the store here, and I have been buying bread there since they opened. I’ve talked to Matt on multiple occasions about the structure of the franchise (because my sister-in-law was considering opening one) and he has told me that he and his wife 100% own the store, they work there and manage it, they make 100% of the decisions on ingredient buying [they use local eggs, Twin Oaks tofu, and Local Food Hub], and everything is made from scratch here in town. To me, that is a local business. Unlike Panera, the breads are not par-baked, frozen and delivered by the headquarters. Great Harvest doesn’t have any corporate stores in the whole country – they are all local businesses and are all different. Whether or not you think storefronts should be allowed at the market is probably a better debate here than whether or not this particular store deserves a spot.

    And let’s not forget the undeniable bias that most newspapers throw into their news stories.

  • I don’t think it’s fair to say; “all of the new folks of strong anti-GH opinion are coming from, it appears to be from this discussion on the “Get Off My Internets” blog.”

    I didn’t expect to be taken literally. To rephrase: Hey, cvillenews.com regulars, if you’re wondering what the deal is with all of the new people who are almost uniformly against Great Harvest being at the market and seem to know a lot about the place, a lot of them are coming from one particular website.

    This is a relatively small community, and when a bunch of people all show up expressing a single opinion, I think it’s helpful to point out where they’re all coming from. Otherwise it’s confusing.

    Whether or not you think storefronts should be allowed at the market is probably a better debate here than whether or not this particular store deserves a spot.

    Yes. This.

    And let’s not forget the undeniable bias that most newspapers throw into their news stories.

    Uh. I’m denying it. What “undeniable bias” is there be in this story? Do you think Media General has a stake in Great Harvest or the Farmers’ Market? :)

  • “Whether or not you think storefronts should be allowed at the market is probably a better debate here than whether or not this particular store deserves a spot.”

    This post links to an article where the business owner, Matt Younger, is quoted in defense of his business. I feel it’s fair to discuss said business as well as any others that may not be deemed appropriate for the Farmers’ Market.

  • I agree that to reduce the discussion to how likable or unlikeable the owners are or the degree to which they are a part of the community misses the larger discussion. I agree that at a higher level there seems to be a need to really define what a farmer’s or community market is about. I would doubt that C’ville is the only city that is dealing with it. It seems that as more businesses catch on that farmer’s markets can be lucrative marketplaces with customers willing to pay a premium there are going to be more instances of businesses popping up at farmer’s markets that raise questions about who should really be allowed to sell there.

    I think where this gets complicated is that people’s reasons for shopping at the market can be so varied. For some people it’s simply about having access to local food. For some it’s about keeping money in the community. For others it’s a way to make choices that don’t support classic commercialism and big business, which is why even if a business acts like a local small business in other ways the notion of a franchise at a farmers’ market can feel wrong. Franchises have access to branding, business knowledge and other resources that independently-owned businesses don’t have. This you might suggest would give them the advantage in most situations, otherwise people wouldn’t pay such a high price to open a franchise and a portion of their profits thereafter.

    Personally, it sounds like if the market wants to retain its integrity it probably needs better management. For example, in Chicago the largest farmer’s market isn’t involved with the city, it’s an independent non-for-profit. It also thoroughly vets its vendors (the detail of its application vs. the C’ville application is noticeable) including requiring vendors that sell prepared food to include detailed ingredient lists with each item and a breakdown of the sourcing of those ingredients. They have very specific rules for where ingredients can come from, i.e. eggs and Dairy (milk, butter, cheese, etc.) must always be from local, sustainable farms and Flour must be milled locally from grain produced on local, sustainable farm. (Those are just two of MANY rules, the actual list is more extensive.)

    I’m in no way suggesting that C’ville should implement the exact same rules, but I do think that if you want to have a specific kind of producer at your farmers’ market you need clear rules that state exactly what is and isn’t allowable. If you try to operate on vague premises you end p with what you’ve described above.

    I think it’s also a good reminder that unfortunately as consumers we cannot make assumptions about what we buy at farmers’ markets without doing our homework like we would anywhere else.

  • I feel it’s fair to discuss said business as well as any others that may not be deemed appropriate for the Farmers’ Market.

    I don’t think anybody said it wasn’t fair, just that it would be better to discuss the structural implications of including or excluding Great Harvest. Anybody is welcome to talk about the merits of not selling onions, but it’s not as useful.

  • This is very interesting to me. I used to work for a GH, and we applied to set up a booth at a very popular farmers market. The application was denied because of a rule stating that the owner of the company had to be present at the market. In this case, that was interpreted to mean the owner of GH national. I think we all felt this was reasonable. I’m not sure if it’s the city’s business to take into account the owner’s personality, their involvement in the community, or their onion policy. The character of the market should be defined and then selection criteria should be applied objectively to create this character.

    I also want to second the previous comment. GH is the least standardized franchise around, and it really does start to blur the boundaries we generally imagine. The GH national plays a very active role in site selection and training, but after a store is launched most decisions are made locally. I would still purchase bread there, but I make my own and have no need to.

  • Waldo, I admit, the merits of not selling onions does not contribute to the discussion, but is funny as hell! :)

  • Should Chipotle have a booth? They source some of their ingredients locally. Should we define a certain percentage of ingredients that must be local? Of course, we’ll also need to define local.

    I’m not attacking, I like some of the thoughts presented so far (ignoring the attacks on the business owners themselves.) I (like many others) am really wondering how we define this. That is precisely what needs to be done. Because while former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart didn’t believe he needed to define hardcore pornography when ruling whether something was or was not hardcore pornography (he famously wrote “I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that”), surely we can define what type of business is allowed at the City Market?

    So is it local ingredients making up some minimum percentage of the sold product? Sounds too difficult to police.

    Can sellers have no retail location at all? Sounds a bit too restrictive to me.

    Perhaps sellers can have a retail location but it must be within a given radius of Charlottesville? This intrigues me. And in my mind, other franchisees would count as retail locations … so GH would end up excluded.

    Can they have only one retail location? Also intriguing to me … once you have multiple storefronts, perhaps you don’t belong in the City Market? But one storefront, within some distance of the city, is okay?

    Someone tear that proposal down.

  • I agree with Jean and some of the other posters. The rules for the city market aren’t very clear. They seem to be geared towards keeping out non-local farmers, but the rules about the food vendors would not exclude a franchise. The application itself does not require a franchise to disclose its business structure. It simply asks where its goods are sold.

    The fault lies with the market organizers. Why don’t they do background research on applicants? Why don’t they have an application that would filter out businesses they/consumers don’t want?

    ETA: GH’s breads and goods are delicious. Maybe consumers don’t care? Surely not all of its customers are unaware of its franchise status.

  • I’ve only been to the GH here once, and I decided that I would continue to give my business to bakeries I knew were locally owned/operated (whatever you want to call it) instead. I was also aware that GH is a franchised location, but I’m wondering if, like the City Market officials, many people “voting with their wallets” did not. Not to say that this was necessarily deception on part of the owners, but even though it may appear to be a local business, it is not. Did the owners develop their own business plan? Recipes? Advertising strategy? Or do these things come from the national office? Either way, they certainly have some kind of advantage over other vendors at the market who do not have the corporate backbone. I also wonder what compelled the owners to apply for the City Market. Do they understand the purpose of the market? Were they hoping to posture as a local business? Was there some sort of lie by omission on their application? Or do they really believe they have just as much (if not more) right to be there than some of the others on the waiting list?

  • I used to work for a GH, and we applied to set up a booth at a very popular farmers market. The application was denied because of a rule stating that the owner of the company had to be present at the market. In this case, that was interpreted to mean the owner of GH national. I think we all felt this was reasonable.

    Now this is a bright-line standard. I think I could get behind this.

  • @Tom Snyder – Trust me, in the Chicago example they lay out how they define local in great detail. That farmer’s market has the most thorough rules and regulations and yes, I agree with you that they are hard to police. Like most things when it relates to farmers’ markets, it’s on the honor system. But I do think that when the rules are strict it keeps most honest people (I would hope) whose businesses don’t meet the rules from applying in the first place. All I know is having been to the market there is NOTHING close to a Great Harvest, or another equivalent there.

    Personally, I’m in favor of a mix of a store-front requirement and a local food requirement because even if a business is local if I’m going to a farmers’ market it is because I want the food sourced locally as well so if they are making their food predominantly out of non-local ingredients that, for me, would defeat the purpose. But I also would never be so presumptuous as to assume everyone has the same values I do.

    In this situation I’d be very frustrated if I were another producer at the market because as a consumer I recognize Great Harvest and knowing that it is a franchise (no matter how much individual franchisee control there is) would lead me to question the authenticity of the other food as well.

  • Excellent questions, Tom Snyder. I’m sure we could have an entire spirited discussion solely on the definition of “local”–it wouldn’t be the first or the hundredth or even the thousandth.

    I feel that GH isn’t wholly appropriate for a farmers’ market environment, though perhaps that’s unfair. If a GH location uses a reasonable percentage of locally-sourced ingredients and actively contributes to the community, maybe that’s good enough. However, modern farmers’ markets partially began as an ethical and practical reaction to franchises, and that’s important to consider, too.

    I’m curious to see how or if vendor approval changes in the future.

  • I have been attending Farmer’s Markets for decades. I seek out fresh/unique products that are made authentically, with fresh, natural, local ingredients. I LOVE GH breads for that reason. The bread is made whole grains milled into flour daily, honey and other natural ingredients, and is not mass produced. Why the mudslinging toward the owners? I think it’s fair to be miffed at the City Market organizers if you feel their guidelines are vague, but taking down a local business for defending itself feels really mean-spirited to me.

  • @Kaitlin – I don’t think many of us are trying to take down GH overall. A lot of people have said they like the brand overall, they just feel it is inappropriate for a Farmer’s Market. I know I actually really enjoy their breads but would be a bit surprised if I saw them at a farmers’ market. There are a lot of businesses I like that use fresh, natural, and local ingredients, but that I don’t feel appropriate for a farmers’ market.

    I think it’s possible to have an intellectual debate about what kinds of businesses should be at a farmers’ market without it being a mean discussion. I think the problem is that the quotes from the owners did have a hint of entitlement to them and refused to believe that anyone might have an issue with their situation. I think if they had showed a hint of sympathy for those still on the waiting list or had acknowledged that for some the notion of a franchise at a farmers’ market is hard for some people to stomach, they might have received a more positive response.

    That said, I do agree that the flack should go mostly to the owners, but that doesn’t mean I think it is unfair to hold them up for scrutiny either. They had to have known that a franchise at a farmers’ market wouldn’t be well received by everyone.

  • Sorry, meant to type that the most of the flack should go to the organizers, not the organizers, but that I don’t think it is unfair to hold the owner’ business up for scrutiny.

  • I’ve had the Monson’s bread at local races, and I really couldn’t figure out why they elected to build a franchise in Charlottesville’s relatively saturated bread market. Their bread is fine, but bread from Charlottesville’s true local spots is more complex than Great Harvest (and unless they’re charging more at the farmer’s market than in their store, it’s significantly more expensive). Plus, Great Harvest loaves are all weirdly sweet from the honey that they use as a preservative. I really don’t get that. If baby Jesus wanted us to use honey in bread, he wouldn’t have invented panzanella and freezers.

  • I’ve been following this discussion, and I think the big question should be who is a local producer and what types of vendors does the organizers want represented at the markets. In full disclosure, I am a bakery vendor at the city market, and I have no problem with GH selling at the market, but I thought some of you may be interested in hearing from a vendor’s perspective. They submitted their application and were accepted. If the market organizers want to keep franchises out of the market, then they need to have that clearly on the rules. There is a waiting list. I was a non-reserved vendor for 4 years and bounced from spot to spot if one was available when a vendor was away, and only this year became a permanent vendor. Anyway, my product is similar to GH, but I would argue that I am a local producer. I use grains produced in Albemarle county, their grain is grown in Montana/Colorado according to their website. I grow all the herbs for my herb breads, and either grow or barter for the fruits I use in the whole wheat muffins. I raise the chickens that produce the eggs for the muffins. The only things I don’t acquire locally are yeast, salt and raisins. I am home based, but have been in business for 6 years. My business has enabled me to send 2 of my kids to college without taking out loans (one is graduating this week!). I am thankful for the opportunity the markets have given me to expand my business. At this time, I am not in a position to open a storefront, though I do have plans to in the future in the Scottsville area. The city market allows me to reach a customer base that I would not otherwise be able to.

    Perhaps the biggest problem is that the market needs a larger space to allow more of those 100 vendors in? (Though I agree, not so many crafters, I like to buy food! :-) )
    Shelia
    Belle Haven Farm Bakery

  • @New Reality

    “The application was denied because of a rule stating that the owner of the company had to be present at the market.”

    @Waldo
    “Now this is a bright-line standard. I think I could get behind this.”

    I think there are some subtleties here. How about the farmer who feels that it’s more important to take care of certain expert work at the farm on market day and would prefer to send a farmworker or family member? Any “bright-line” standard would have to have a certain amount of flexibility to recognize the kind of business practices a farm has– tightly coupled to rhythms of nature.

    Perhaps an owner-must-be-present rule for non-farm businesses (e.g. anyone selling anything other than unprocessed food) and a must-be-within-certain-distance-limits rule for farms (selling only unprocessed food)?

    In general, I think it may be important (in order to get a sense of who should be at the Market and under what terms) to think of farms and other businesses in slightly different ways. I don’t know that we can cover both with one set of rules.

  • Perhaps part of a new standard could be that if you have the backing of a national chain and if you have the $200K needed to set up your own franchise of a national chain, then you don’t “need” the City Market. I think of the City Market as serving and encouraging our smaller local businesses, the ones who don’t have a national chain and a lot of $$ behind them. Chipotle is yummy, I’m glad they use local pork, but they don’t need the City Market. Even Bodo’s, if they were to switch to using local ingredients and ask for a booth at the market, doesn’t need the City Market. I see it as a venue for businesses/producers who aren’t getting a venue elsewhere. And so I think that’s who it should be showcasing. GHBC wouldn’t have a spot in that vision of the market.

  • For me, it’s worth the cost for a fresh, natural loaf of wheat bread. I also love what honey does to the flavor. So last summer my best friend and I traveled to Colorado. In Boulder, CO, I was thrilled to see Great Harvest participating in the local (huge) farmers market. I bought a whole grain chocolate cherry swirl. It was amazing. A week later, we stopped in Billings, Montana…and again Great Harvest was at the main Farmers Market. I was hoping to snag more of the swirl bread, but the Billing’s menu was different than Boulder’s. I’d be willing to bet Great Harvest appears at most of the major farmers markets across the country. I have to almost laugh when I hear the word “franchise,” because no two bakeries are ever the same, and their menus vary. Sometimes this is frustrating to me when seeking more of the chocolate cherry swirl bread. Also, Mr. Monson may have a right to feel unfairly attacked. This business went through all the formalities to become a vendor. Right? I have no beef with the GH owners and I won’t try to vilify them or their products behind the veil of this comments page. I personally don’t think the GH owners are the root cause of the controversy – the application process appears to be flawed. Whose fault is that? I feel badly that GH is being attacked so personally for simply filling out an application and being legally accepted to participate in CM.

  • I agree with A. Soroka that a requirement for the owner to be present at every instance of the farmer’s market would be onerous, but it’s a very good idea to require the presence of the owner to some degree, to ensure that truly local businesses are being represented at the Farmer’s Market. It’s time for the City to identify what makes a business “local” or not. I’m sure someone who understands the legal nuances of franchises and chains can help the City craft a fair set of requirements.

    Many posters on this list are unaware that Great Harvest is producing bread made with modern strains of overly-hybridized dwarf wheat, which is considered by some researchers to be a significant contributor to diabetes and other modern illnesses. I deduce this from the photo of wheat on GH’s corporate website: I see ripe grain on a 2′ stem. That’s a good enough reason to avoid their product in any case.

  • @Sheila, I think you are a far better person than I am. In your situation making the kind of bread you’re making vs. the kind of bread they are making I would be frustrated. Partially because I think that when consumers go to what they think is a farmers’ market your bread is what they expect, not something that is using grains from a decidedly NOT local region, if this GH is doing as you say.

    I think another compromise, if the market were to continue to allow franchises and businesses using non-local ingredients in their production would be to have clear and transparent labeling. Think the situation at health food stores where they recognize that it is not always practical to only carry organic vegetables and that some people are okay with not buying organic for everything (or at all) so they label things organic or conventional. That allows people to make choices consistent with their principles without having to guess what is what. This approach would allow a market to be more flexible. It would also mean that if buying from a franchise or a producer that used predominantly non-local ingredients wasn’t an issue that person could patronize that business. But if it was an issue they could take their business elsewhere.

    I think the issue right now, not just with the GH but also with the other vendor mentioned who sold vegetables from a distributor, is that people don’t know what they are getting and may be making the assumption that because it’s a city market, all the businesses they are supporting are independent and using local ingredients.

    I think the thing is that food consumption is very personal and everyone operates with a different checklist so no one should assume that just because they are okay or not okay with something that everyone else feels the same.

  • I don’t see how you could enforce an “owner must be present at the Market” rule. You could enforce “owner must personally apply for a space” more easily. Is that what everyone means? What I mean is, is someone going to walk around every Saturday and verify ID and ownership credentials for every vendor? Unlikely.

    I’ll come back to my starting point: a business at the Market has be located close to the city and have no more than 1 retail storefront.

    How close? For starters, let’s say anywhere in Virginia. We’ll promote the Market as being for Virginia products. For now, ignore the fact that some counties in WV are closer than many in VA. Let’s just say the business must be in VA.

    I say a storefront in another city, owned by another owner, but being a part of a franchise or chain, would be excluded. That’s more than one storefront, even though only one might be owned by the applicant.

    That’s sounds clearly defined and (relatively) easily enforceable to me. That’s a big part of this decision.

    Can someone poke holes in this?

  • BTW – We’re missing some critical information to make an informed decision: how many current vendors would be excluded by my proposal? If suddenly half the current vendors were disqualified, that’s a big hole in my idea right there. Then again, if my proposal had those results, maybe I don’t want to shop at the City Market anyway.

  • @Tom Snyder

    Sure– how about someone selling crafts who has no storefront at all, anywhere? The products may or may not be made in Virginia, but it might be very hard to check.

    I’m not sure that the notion of a storefront really gets at everything people want from “local-ness”. I think that (nebulous) concept has a great deal more to do with where something is made or grown than where it is sold.

  • Diana, honesty, you sound like my 5 year old daughter. I am a farmer. I know exactly the wheat they use . It is not GMO or overly hybridized or dwarf. You cannot produce that strain of wheat in the Rockies. The harsh weather conditions produce a hard red wheat that has a rich taste and bakes well. Please young lady, don’t start attacking me for purchasing Great Harvest bread at the market. My wife and I love the taste and health bennies of whole grain bread. I am beginning to feel badly for the owners for all of the cheap shots. I support local farms, and the businesses who support them. I like artisan products. I feel no shame purchasing great harvest bread at the farmers market.

  • Kelly, Last time I checked VA is not the wheat capital of the world and the best wheat is found on the high plains of Montana and I read that only family owned farms produce GH wheat… dating back 30 years. Why does your friend who works for another local bakery feel threatened by great harvest? I like having choices and competition usually results in better local products. Which bakery are you defending? Don’t you think you may be hurting the reputation of your friend’s bakery? If I knew which bakery you are referring to…I wouldn’t shop there on principle. It’s uncool to trash hard working local business owners .

  • Wow, lots going on over here in these comments! Kath must hate that she can’t delete any comments over here that she doesn’t like! I’ve been a follower of the blog for quite awhile…used to really like it, but it’s turned into this train wreck that I can’t look away from! Any time I have asked any sort of question or disagreed with her viewpoint, my comment has been promptly deleted! This must be killing her.

  • Wow. More than 60 comments about bread. Looks like you know what your go-to topic to garner comments is, Waldo.

    There are some interesting perspectives on this (Shelia from Belle Haven, in particular).

    The initial topic was interesting (who should have a place at the City Market, and why/why not?), but all the personal stuff is ridiculous.

    I have never bought GH bread (I’ve never actually been the City Market either), so maybe I’m not in a position to judge, but this really seems so much more petty than all the water wars/bypass battles we generally have. So instead… you’ll get a poem, entitled:

    And then I wrote a poem

    The non-local man was the target
    For selling his bread at the market
    Strange commenters came
    Some gave onions the blame
    So finally I just said, “Fark it.”

  • Please young lady, don’t start attacking me for purchasing Great Harvest bread at the market.

    “Young lady”? Really, Randy?

  • @A Soroka …

    I don’t have a problem with the type of seller you describe. If someone makes jewelry in their home, with items bought from wherever, that’s okay. As long as their home is in Virginia.

    Overall, I’m okay with crafts being sold at the Market, and I assume they are there because long ago someone determined it brings more traffic by the booths overall. That’s a big assumption on my part, though. I’d prefer all food-related items, myself, but again, my thinking is that there is an overall benefit to having “crafts”.

    I don’t like the idea of simple resellers at the Market, though. And as you noted, that’s tough to police. Perhaps it could be an honor system on the application … are your products produced by you? I’m not sure how to be certain, even if you see the merchandise.

    BTW – another hole in my idea is that, by the letter of the law (so to speak), GH would be excluded. But they could open a side business called “City Market Bread, LLC” and sell GH bread there.They’d have no storefront, technically. But that would be done with clear intent to defraud, something most people I just don’t think would do in that type of situation. Just as I don’t think that was anyone’s intent with the current dilemma.

  • I’ve been to farmers markets in other cities, and I’ve seen booths that also have storefronts. However, they were all local. Great Harvest is kind of a gray area. They are unique but then they are also tied to the national name. I think that if they are the only breadmakers at the farmers market, then let it lie. But, if there’s a local breadmaker on the waiting list who doesn’t have a storefront and doesn’t have another outlet to sell their product, then they need to take GH’s place at the market.

    And, I can’t believe that about the onions. Would a buisness owner really not provide a common sandwhich topping just because he/she doesn’t like it? I’ve never been to their shop, though, so I wouldn’t know.

  • Good point Tom. I wonder how many current vendors at CM are incorporated or an LLC? If organizers do not want “corporate” vendors, I think we’d find that most small operations, even mom-and-pops, are incorporated. I’m not saying that is a bad thing at all, it’s just a reality in today’s modern world…

  • Waldo… as in, nancies.org’s Waldo?!?

    I see the market as an outlet for locals who can’t afford their own store. Good for franchise owners for using local food sources, but that shouldn’t give them a place at the market.

  • i get that GH is not a huge chain (yet)… but it is still a nationwide franchise, and that automatically makes things a little easier: additional manpower, built-in marketing tools/branding, recipes, a network of other business owners, etc. it doesn’t seem fair, then, for the Monson’s to sidle into the farmer’s market on perhaps an oversight or technicality, and pass themselves off as a one-off shop. as long as there is a long waiting list of independent bakers/ farmers/ vendors for the charlottesville farmer’s market, franchises should have no place there.
    -a former city resident, now visitor

  • @Randy I’m 5 years old exactly! How could you tell?

    Now that I look more closely at the photo on Great Harvest’s page about their wheat, I do see tinges of green in the grain. Does that mean I’m not looking at a field ripe for harvest? It’s hard for a non-farmer know how to interpret that photograph. When I hear “hard red wheat” I still don’t know what relationship it has with hybridized dwarf strains of wheat; I can’t presume that they are exclusive. I just don’t have enough knowledge or information about the wheat.

    I’ll ask GH corporate HQ directly about the wheat they use, and will post back here with what I learn from them.

    In this world of modern agribusiness which actively seeks to mislead consumers, please forgive my instinct for distrusting what I’m told and shown.

  • I’m getting worried about my homemade bread. I use store bought honey in it and am not sure where the bees came from.I don’t live where a beehive would be possible. Also, I have no idea what type of wheat is used in King Arthurs flour. What if my yeast is made far away? The raisins come from California-are there local raisins which do not cost an arm and a leg?
    I thought I was a bit of a health nut as I rarely buy prepared foods,although I no longer can my own low sodium stewed tomatoes,but after reading this thread I fear I will die young(middle aged, actually).

  • Spot on, those owners certainly are smug and arrogant! Of course, I’ve always thought that helped them to fit right in here in Charlottesville :P

  • So, how come no “real for true and honest” local bakers are not at the market? Seems like it is nice to be able to buy some bread, fresh baked from scratch by the owner.

    Ahhhh….. its Cville, always ready to get into a tizzy about anything stupid.

  • I’m sure that the owners of Charlottesville’s Great Harvest are nice, hardworking people who contribute to the community, but that doesn’t change the fact that Great Harvest is a national franchise.

    One of the purposes of supporting a farmers’ market and local businesses is to protect the things that make your town unique, right?

    A quick google search shows me that Great Harvest franchises participate in farmers’ markets in just about every state. It looks like it’s corporate policy to do just what Mr. Monson says, make a franchise feel like a local business. But if every state has a Great Harvest at their farmers’ market, that seems awfully similar to a McDonald’s or a Starbucks in every town.

  • I don’t think the issue here is whether their bread is good or not. I haven’t been to a GH in a very long time, but when I was younger I loved their bread.

    They have a store front, and they do have the support of a national chain. Smaller bakeries, farmers, vendors etc. do not have the same support that GH does, no matter how non-cookie-cutter it is, and would hugely benefit from having a stand at the local farmer’s market.

    Whether people may or may not be able to guess whether or not GH is a franchise does not take away the simple fact that it is, in fact, a franchise. They still pay royalties to headquarters. They have the support of the larger corporation. To me, farmer’s markets represent in essence a place where franchises have no part – a place where small, genuinely local businesses (that is to say, without the support of a larger corporation), can go to grow and thrive in the community, because they actually need the market as a physical place to sell their wares.

    I really appreciate this discussion! What an interesting topic.

  • You hit the nail on the head Lacey.

  • @Randy, sorry if I was unclear. I don’t have a friend who owns a bakery . :-) I was responding to Sheila’s comment. Her comment sounded to me as if she was saying she was making bread from predominantly local ingredients and I was saying that if I were in her position I would be frustrated if there was another vendor at the market who was a franchise and making bread with wheat from outside the region. I’m not sure how expressing how I would feel in a certain situation is akin to trashing anyone.

    Honestly, I’m not in the camp that I think one is any better or worse than the other, only that I do think consumers tend to assume that food that comes from a farmers’ market is locally sourced and made by independent businesses. I still haven’t made up my mind if businesses that don’t meet both criteria belong at markets but I do believe if there are there that there needs to be a sense of transparency so no one feels duped.

    I also think that even if people think certain kinds of businesses aren’t appropriate for a farmers’ market it doesn’t mean (at least in my eye) that people don’t think they are worth supporting at all, only that they might not be the best fit for that kind of distribution.

  • However I will add that the more I read this discussion (which I personally find fascinating) it’s clear that there is some variance in what we assume the purpose of a farmers’ market is so no wonder it can be hard to regulate who should or should not have a spot!

  • @Patience. Thanks.

  • Waldo… as in, nancies.org’s Waldo?!?

    Well, I prefer to think of it as “Waldo’s nancies.org,” rather than vice-versa, but, yes. :)

  • @Kaitlin: Umm…are you sure you were at Boulder’s Farmers Market? GH was not and is not at that farmers market.

  • With 84 comments, I’m questioning the efficacy of commenting, but here goes.

    This story gave me a chance to look up the Charlottesville Farmer’s Market regulations. Generally, some of the “revisions” proposed on this site are in effect already. While the scanned document doesn’t allow me to copy and paste, there is language in the regulations that require food producers to be represented by the owner, the owner’s family, or farm laborers employed by the seller. The foodstuffs also have to be prepared on land owned or leased by the seller.

    http://www.charlottesvillecitymarket.com/rules.html

    In general, the regulations seem pretty comprehensive to me already. Yes, new rules could be made to specifically exclude GH and other potential franchises. But, we could also just leave it up to the market, let consumers decide where they want to spend their money. I go to the Downtown market almost every week and have developed a clear boundary between vendors I visit and those I pass by.

    The Washington Post recently posted a story on the varying levels of regulation of DC area markets, which brings up many of the points raised here:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/purist-farmers-markets-shun-coffee-roasters/2012/04/16/gIQAurYVMT_story.html

  • “But, we could also just leave it up to the market, let consumers decide where they want to spend their money.”

    But that’s not possible, so long as there’s a waitlist and someone making decisions about who from the waitlist gets a spot. The consumer is deciding where to spend $$ only AFTER that decision has been made by a not-consumer. That’s not a “free market.”

  • It seems to me (and I realize that not everyone may make the same analysis) that part of the issue at stake here is that the City Market is explicitly _not_ a free market in the following sense: every customer expects every merchant to meet certain criteria that are unrelated to the information available by comparing prices. That is, everyone who shops at the City Market has certain expectations about the “local-ness” of the wares available, but as this discussion demonstrates clearly, every customer does _not_ have the _same_ expectations: not the same criteria. If we (as citizens) can come to some common expectations, the Market can function with less likelihood of the kind of confusion this story has turned up– a closer approximation to a free market (with its benefits).

    (I think perhaps that this is at the root of the questions Waldo has been asking, but I can’t speak for him.)

  • Thanks for doing the research that none of us had the apparent sense to do, Andrew! :)

    And, yes, A. Soroka, you’re absolutely right—you have figured out what’s at the root of my poorly phrased and ill-thought-out questions. :)

  • For me, it’s worth the cost for a fresh, natural loaf of wheat bread. I also love what honey does to the flavor. So last summer my best friend and I traveled to Colorado. In Boulder, CO, I was thrilled to see Great Harvest participating in the local (huge) farmers market. I bought a whole grain chocolate cherry swirl. It was amazing. A week later, we stopped in Billings, Montana…and again Great Harvest was at the main Farmers Market. I was hoping to snag more of the swirl bread, but the Billing’s menu was different than Boulder’s. I’d be willing to bet Great Harvest appears at most of the major farmers markets across the country.

    Hey, Kaitlin? Do you have a connection to Great Harvest that you’d like to disclose? Because, if you did, now would be your chance to do so on your own terms rather than, say, somebody else doing so. That could be embarrassing.

    By way of warning, this is what happened the last time a PR professional attempted to comment here without disclosing that they were doing so in a professional capacity. It was a train wreck.

  • @A Soroka – I think you’ve accurately captured what the underlying question really is. A market that clearly and transparently lays out its mission and the guidelines is unlikely to ever do so in a manner that everyone agrees with its rationale, but at the very least there should be little confusion of what is and isn’t acceptable.

  • “One of the purposes of supporting a farmers’ market and local businesses is to protect the things that make your town unique, right?”

    Sure Lacey, as long as the protectionism racket (uniqueness) doesn’t turn into unreasonable limitations and full-blown death grip restrictions.

    Maybe a another question here is: what makes and doesn’t make either the market or participating vendors exclusionists? I’m sure that differs between everyone here too.

  • oh Kaitlin, Kaitlin, Kaitlin…

  • On the NBC29 discussion thread, “Kaitlin” (of Dillon, MT, which is the franchising homebase of Great Harvest Bread Company), writes this:

    “There was an article in the newspaper where very inappropriate and mean-spirited comments were made in an online discussion toward the Monsons. The girls who made the unfortunate comments appeared to be employees or owners of another local bakery? That sure seems counterproductive. Slinging mud anonymously in an online thread is pretty tacky. I feel for the Monsons. No local business owners should have to endure that.”

    I think she’s talking about us!!

  • Claire, I think you’re right. And Kaitlin, rest assured that I am not an employee or owner of a bakery. If you’re associated with Great Harvest, you’re doing a fantastic job of digging yourself into an embarrassing hole. If not, my apologies.

  • Slinging mud anonymously in an online thread is pretty tacky.

    Let’s all take this opportunity to pause and savor this bit, in advance of what we all know is coming.

  • I also like this quote from Monson in the NBC29 story:

    “It’s a shame this issue has ultimately come down to an attack on my family and my business.”

    Still no acknowledgment that there might be some legitimate concerns about the purpose of the city market and its relationship to local businesses.

  • Kaitlin, As a proud Boulderite, I can say with 100% certainty that Great Harvest is not at the Boulder’s farmers market. Please get your facts straight.

  • I liked this quote from the DP article:

    Multiple vendors voiced their frustrations about Great Harvest in interviews with The Daily Progress, but declined to be named publicly.

  • Kaitlin:

    The independent local producers at the market don’t have a team of corporate shills to defend them. This sort of behavior perfectly underscores why franchises aren’t truly community-driven and likely don’t belong at farmers’ markets. (And I was even willing to give Great Harvest the benefit of the doubt since its model is different than most, but now? Forget it.)

    Well done, Kaitlin. You’ve accomplished the opposite of what you set out to do.

  • Hey what’s going on in this thread?

    Wow. Quite literally bread and circuses. Awesome!

    Let them eat (locally sourced and holistically obtained free range) cake!

  • Here’s something interesting: in the mail I just got a copy of “Buy Local, Buy Fresh–2012 Food Guide” from the Piedmont Environmental Council. Under the “Specialty Foods” section, there is a listing for Great Harvest. From what I can see, the only other chain listed in the entire paper is Whole Foods.

  • Wow. It never occurred to me that Kaitlin might be a brand representative. (Clearly I’m pretty naive.) I just thought she was someone who really liked the bread but was missing the larger picture.

    Personally, I could care less about the Monsons or GH. Yes, I think their situation is what is bringing the question to light but there is something bigger going on, as evidence by the Washington Post article that was shared. l It doesn’t matter to me who owns the franchise or what franchise it is, it’s about the bigger discussion of what a farmers’ market’s individual purpose and norms are and making them clear because not everyone starts at the same reference point.

    Personally, I liked the notion that every farmer’s market doesn’t have to have the exact same rules and that you can tailor things to meet the expectations of the individual community and the local supply. It makes sense that there shouldn’t be a one size fits all approach to markets because local should mean they reflect the community.

  • Well, since “Kaitlin” has gone silent on us, I’ll confirm what we’ve all figured out: she is almost certainly none other than Kate Ord, Great Harvest Director of Marketing. On her LinkedIn profile she writes that she’s “[r]esponsible for providing bakery owners with marketing guidance, tools and technology to help promote their scratch-made, whole grain breads and sweets.”

    So, let’s recap.

    The question was raised as to whether Great Harvest should be selling at the local farmer’s market. In response, one of the owners diminished the concerns (“a very, very small minority are bothered by this and are going around trying to raise some trouble”), while the head of his company’s PR adopted a pseudonym (perhaps “Kate” is short for “Kaitlin”), pretended to be a concerned citizen, provided a defense of her business based on an untruth (“I have to almost laugh when I hear the word ‘franchise’”), and accused the Charlottesville Farmers’ Market of running a poorly planned market (“…the application process appears to be flawed. Whose fault is that?”). All, of course, within the context of the line that she is an honest broker, unlike the rest of us (“I have no beef with the GH owners and I won’t try to vilify them or their products behind the veil of this comments page”).

    I think it’s perfectly reasonable to assume that Ms. Ord didn’t just do this as a lone operator, but instead that Great Harvest handled this on a proper, institutional level, which is to say that they coordinated this response between their franchisee and their head of marketing. This strikes me as a fundamentally dishonest approach, one that speaks very poorly of Great Harvest.

    Incidentally, note that Kate Ord only posted these comments on NBC-29 and cvillenews.com, not the Daily Progress website. Why? Because the Progress uses Facebook for commenting, which is too high a barrier for her dissembling to clear.

  • Wow, glad I clicked into this conversation today. Just because I love their bread doesn’t mean I am a shill and I never said I lived in your high-minded town, but my stepfather does (attorney who knows Waldo personally). I do think some of the personal comments made by people about the Monsons were mean. Let me be clear — attacking a pregnant woman, blogger, someone who hates onions is relevant? And whether I live in and work in Dillon (sorry, not for GH) or hail from Kalamazoo (used to live there, too), I have a right to voice my opinion. BTW, if you didn’t already see it…I also “voiced” by opinion on the NBC piece. One more thing – I most definitely saw GH at Boulder FM in 2008. I don’t suffer from dementia, yet. I have no idea if they are there now — truly, ask an organizer who has been with the market for a while and you’ll see it is 100 percent true. I like GH bread. Sue me.

  • 100-plus comments. Nothing gets C’villers knickers in a knot like the thought that LARGE UNSEEN FORCES over which they have no control may be ruining decades-old practices.

    For my money, the City Market has far bigger problems than this – overcrowding and a non-handicapped accessible site to name just two.

  • I hate to break it to you, Waldo, but my googlefu shows that Kate Ord’s full name is actually Katherine. It’s possible that they are one in the same, but now Kaitlin’s denied it (working for Great Harvest.)

  • I don’t see a denial in Kaitlin’s response that she is indeed Ms. Ord.

  • She denies she works for GH. Ms. Ord works for GH. Therefore, she is denying that she’s Ms. Ord.

  • I wonder what the IP address will show?

  • I’m sure Waldo can easily trace your IP to the GH’s headquarters. Are you sure you’re not affiliated? Your comments appear awfully strange if you aren’t.

    Anyways, did anyone else check out the city market’s application and rules? That seems to be the real issue here. If they aren’t going to do background checks, they probably need a more thorough application process to weed out the vendors consumers don’t want there. It does seem misleading if the market advertises as locals only, but has chains at the market. I now live in NC and our market is not local at all, but if it advertised as such, I’d be frustrated to find out there were chains there. As it is, I look for the official flags indicating the “local” vendors and it’s clear that some vendors are local and some are not.

  • So Kaitlin, we’re being asked to believe that a woman from Dillon Montana with no ties whatsoever to Great Harvest other than a deep and abiding love for corporate bread with local flair is closely following a local news puff piece from two timezones away? Dillon, a town of under 5,000? You understand that your assertion strains the limits of credulity.

  • Kaitlin, I am not sure how the ‘pregnant blogger’ was attacked? I have no idea who/what her blog is about. This is about the franchise clearly marketing themselves to look like a small business, not a nation wide one.

  • Kristen, she REALLY loves Great Harvest bread. Especially the chocolate cherry swirl bread. I mean, didn’t you read her comments?

    “I seek out fresh/unique products that are made authentically, with fresh, natural, local ingredients. I LOVE GH breads for that reason. The bread is made whole grains milled into flour daily, honey and other natural ingredients, and is not mass produced.”

    “For me, it’s worth the cost for a fresh, natural loaf of wheat bread. I also love what honey does to the flavor.”

    “I was thrilled to see Great Harvest participating in the local (huge) farmers market. I bought a whole grain chocolate cherry swirl. It was amazing.”

    “no two bakeries are ever the same, and their menus vary. Sometimes this is frustrating to me when seeking more of the chocolate cherry swirl bread.”

    “I like GH bread. Sue me.”

  • So, Kaitlin, what you’re saying is that you are Kate Ord…but that Great Harvest does not pay you to do PR work for them…despite Great Harvest’s website and your LinkedIn profile saying that’s precisely the case?

    And, yes, you have the right to voice your opinion. And I have the right to tell people that your opinion is being funded by Great Harvest. We’re all within our rights here.

  • Kaitlin – Sorry, but I find it a bit hypocritical that you find the comments made about the Monsons mean, but have no problem insulting an entire town of people. First off, those few comments hardly reflect the sentiment of everyone who has posted in the comment section, let alone the whole town.

    What you seem to keep missing is that there is an an issue that is raised of what constitutes local food that goes beyond the Monsons or Great Harvest. Even if you might deem some of the conversation inappropriate it doesn’t cancel out the validity of the core question. (Though I personally think that when you make a lifestyle choice to be in the public’s eye whether as a business owner or a professional blogger you do open yourself up for more criticism, fairly or unfairly, than the average citizen.) Nor does it mean that one choice or point of view is more right or valid than another. Even if the market eventually rules that the business isn’t appropriate for the market it’s not banning GH from the town completely. People could always go to their retail location and buy the bread (vs. banning a business that otherwise would have no outlet to sell to consumers) and if the reason the bread is selling as well as it is as a result of true support for them, it would stand to reason that some of this business would follow them wherever they go.

  • “Anyways, did anyone else check out the city market’s application and rules? That seems to be the real issue here.”

    Yeah, no. The city will never get it sorted on things like this. Dont like GH bread? Dont buy it. Think they are taking up valuable real estate at the market? Dont buy it there. Really feel strongly about it? Vocalize and organize your fellow… what do y’all call yourselves? Marketeers? Make the city market inhospitable and un profitable enough, and they will bail. Why?

    In reading some the associated web sites surrounding this issue, I learned that GH is not a “franchise” at all. No sir. It is a “freedom franchise”, ( http://www.greatharvest.com/company/philosophy.html) a term that sounds eerily familiar. Where was it? Oh yes… freedom fries. Anyway, let the invisible hand of the free market knead their bread, amirght? Can I get a witness danpri?

    Which reminds me, I need a Randian Round or some Norquist Naan for this dinner thing I have…

    Also: This weekend’s city market is going to be a hoot!

  • Kaitlin – On May 7th at 8:25 a.m. you stated above that last summer you saw a GH booth at the Boulder FM. Today, above at 1:00 pm. you say that you saw a GH booth at the Boulder FM in 2008. So DID you see GH at the Boulder FM last summer?

  • This is SUCH a strange week. First I agree with Patience, and now BeYo actually make sense. Potentially for the first time…snark!

    Me, I always wonder how these farmers have so much time to do all those craft projects? And the coffee beans in the coffee that must be sourced from….. Afton Mountian? Or the wonderful tacos, a unique and locally historic food from rural Virginny!

    WHAT are the chances that some of these folk are incorporated? Ruh-roh… Corporate attack! And what if one of our own locals become successful enough to begin franchising? Should we beat them up before we kick them out? Hey, I can help because I know I can bench press Waldo!!

    Quit whining and dont buy their bread if you dont like it. Have you even tried it? One would think the GH owners have horns growing out of their heads rather than people who live in our area, invested in a crappy old space and work hard to make a living and have a family.

    Get a grip people, stop trying to legislate everything on the planet and let the free market sort out the details.

  • For the record, Kaitlin is using Kate Ord’s personal (that is, non-GH) e-mail address, and is using an IP address that’s assigned to Great Harvest. So if Kaitlin isn’t Kate Ord, then somebody ought to call the Dillon, Montana police and alert them to the fact that somebody named Kaitlin has broken into Great Harvest’s headquarters and is using their computer network to impersonate Kate Ord. I kid, of course—Dillon is way too small of a town to have a police department.

    I’ve written about it before, but it bears calling up again, if only for Ms. Ord’s benefit: you’re never anonymous on the internet.

  • Your never anonymous, at least when Big Brother is watching. Who would have ever thought Waldo would star in a 1984 watchful eye?

    Yeah, I know it is a stretch but still, when the chance to tie Waldo with Orwellian surveillance arrives, it HAS TO BE DONE!

    Hey, he not only knows my IP address, he knows my work address so I try and behave.

  • Waldo- serious question: do proxy servers like hidemyass.com work? I always assume not, but I’ve given up on the idea that I’m anonymous on the internet if people want to find me.

  • Oh wow. I’m a little shocked. Is PR an easy field to break into? Do people still say “sue me” in arguments?

    Anyways, I retract my earlier statements about rules agree with BeYo and Danpri. If people don’t like GH being there, then don’t shop there.

  • Waldo, I’m curious to see how “Kaitlin” explains away everything.

    This is all so embarrassing and sloppy.

  • Yeah, my daughter has told me of the “waves” of student leaving the library on a Friday. PR/Marketing/Communication were the first out. Her group was the last. But then again, my little girl was employed before graduation and making enough to live decent.

  • Les, something tells me we won’t be hearing anything from Kaitlin again. The PR-flacks-posing-as-grassroots-real-folks usually disappear once they’re outed. I have my fingers crossed, though, that she’ll double down on the fiction that she is “Kaitlin, just another gal who loooooooooves that chocolate cherry swirl bread,” because this is way more fun than folding the laundry piled up on my couch.

  • Your never anonymous, at least when Big Brother is watching. Who would have ever thought Waldo would star in a 1984 watchful eye?

    Yeah, I know it is a stretch but still, when the chance to tie Waldo with Orwellian surveillance arrives, it HAS TO BE DONE!

    Hey, I’ve gone to court to defend your—yes, you, personally—right to privacy. So I’m more like…uh…Big Sister?

    Waldo- serious question: do proxy servers like hidemyass.com work? I always assume not, but I’ve given up on the idea that I’m anonymous on the internet if people want to find me.

    They do, to an extent. For 95% of cases, they’ll do the trick. But when a crazy guy sued The Hook and subpoenaed me (see my prior link), he used “Hide My Ass,” and I was able to poke some holes in it, at least enough to track him. If you really annoy somebody technically astute who runs a website, they can ID you. And, of course, that site is owned by somebody who is liable to respond to a subpoena, which is to say that you’re really just outsourcing your privacy protection to a stranger who you probably can’t trust. :)

  • Waldo, I <3 you.

  • I love how Kaitlin seems to think that last summer was the summer of 2008, people who lie are always caught in their tracks!

  • Does anybody know what kind of vendors are actually on the waiting list at the market? I get the impression it’s a bunch of crafts. Personally I don’t care too much about crafts – I go there for food. But all the press has made it sound like “oh no helpless farmers aren’t able to get into the market!”

    Typical media. Waldo you’re just a yellow journalism hack… hell this article wasn’t even originated by you, just jumping on the bandwagon. Zero new facts have come from this website and a whole lot of speculation and jumping to conclusions.

    So while we’re trolling it up here, did you know that glass is really a liquid at room temp?

  • Does anybody know what kind of vendors are actually on the waiting list at the market? I get the impression it’s a bunch of crafts.

    “Get the impression”? How do you know?

    Typical media. Waldo you’re just a yellow journalism hack…

    You’re close. The word you’re looking for is “blogger.”

    hell this article wasn’t even originated by you, just jumping on the bandwagon. Zero new facts have come from this website and a whole lot of speculation and jumping to conclusions.

    Uh. Right. This is cvillenews.com. That’s the point of the site. That’s what we’ve been doing for 11 years. If you’re upset about speculation and jumping to conclusions, you might start by looking at your own pair of comments here. Are you helping, or hurting, your apparent cause of providing new facts and not jumping to conclusions? (I’ll give you a hint: you’re hurting it.)

  • Seems to me the solution is obvious. Let GH withdraw from the farmers market with the understanding they do have a storefront, and would like a “farmer” without a storefront to have a chance at the spot. This would show the “good will” they claim to have for the local community and a commitment to fairness. Clearly a “local” business who can call into action corporate PR and damage control is hardly “local”. You gotta know when to hold them and know when to fold them and given the amount of energy devoted to this issue I suggest the time to fold them is long past.

  • If there is such a thing as a dedicated Public Relations college curriculum somewhere, it should be amended with a new Prime Directive: never, ever, promote or defend a business anonymously or unidentified because when it is discovered, and it will, the damage will far surpass all potential benefits.

  • I admit that I came to this site from the GOMI forum and that I live in New England. My only connection to cville is that my sister-in-law lives there.

    I have been following this discussion because I find the ethics and selection of vendors for farmers markets to be an interesting topic that deserves to have a wider stage than one Virginia town. I know that the farmers markets in my state each have their own criteria for vendor selection. One in particular require that 100% of fruit and vegetables sold be grown in the local area, and that craft vendors be limited to 20% of vendors. Other farmer’s markets in our state actually have committees picking and choosing who will have a slot “with preference given to organic vendors”.

    I think it is fair that each farmers market has their own selection criteria and rules, but I think it is up to the farmers market committee to uphold what the population perception of a farmer’s market vendor would be. If the population expects the farmers market vendors to be, in this case, local, small business owners without ties to a major chain, it is the farmer’s market committee’s job to uphold that belief by understanding the business practices of those they give a coveted slot to. The shopper isn’t necessarily going to know that a booth has corporate overhead and a storefront in town. In the case of a farmer’s market with limited space, this is especially important.

    I have no problem with GH bread, I have eaten at several all over the country. But I think it is a local community decision as to what they want represented at their farmer’s market.

  • @Dez is there any bigger troll on this thread than Mary Ord – Director of Marketing, Great Harvest? Bogus name – Kaitlin; lies – says she clearly bought bread from a GH booth last summer at a market in Boulder, then goes on to say it was 2008. Says the local GH really ‘isn’t’ a franchise wink/wink, when the Great Harvest home page clearly states it is indeed a franchise. Denies she’s an employee of Great Harvest. Anyone else think Great Harvest is running a ‘dog and pony show’? I feel bad for the Monson/Youngers – clearly they’ve been short-changed for their $200k investment.

  • @ Lee and others: as has been mentioned earlier, GH is not the only business having a storefront that is selling at the City Market. the rule of ‘no storefront’ is more exclusive than ‘no franchise’. specific coffee, pastries and a few other items might no longer be found while shopping for fruits+veggies on Saturday mornings. understand your suggested rule completely before asking others to stand behind it.

  • There are a lot of questions about how best to run the market. As it grows and hopefully gets a larger space, these have to be answered and codified. That’s just the way it goes.
    I have no opinion on the owners of GH and any feelings about them personally, good or bad, are irrelevant.
    I would like know how the market came to their decision to include GH this year, who they left out and why.
    I would like them to add a “no franchise” requirement to their app. GH may be a wonderful addition to our city but it doesn’t belong at the market. There are a lot of other gray areas but, to me, no franchise seems pretty black and white.

  • I don’t think the ‘storefront’ clause is valid in any way. Waht, you want to disqualify real local, successful businesses, because they open a storefront? Silly!

    NO franchise is probably the way to go…

  • Just saying.....

    Of course there isn’t true anonymity on the internet. But there are things people can do if they want to anonymously post comments on a blog. Posting your personal email address in the required “Mail” textbox is not one of them.

    There are so many free email services out there, I created a free account a long time ago with a bogus name. Now, anytime I want to sign up for something on the internet that I believe has a high probability of resulting in a large amount of spam, I use that account. I also use it to post anonymous comments on the internet.

    I know that my IP address can be tracked, but ISPs are not so quick to give up the personal information of their customers simply because a blog’s author doesn’t like someone’s comments.

    Anyhooo… this “marketing director” is clearly not very adept at surreptitious, online marketing, to say the least. It speaks to the quality of people this corporation hires and retains and, indirectly, does not reflect well on the local franchise.

  • I know that my IP address can be tracked, but ISPs are not so quick to give up the personal information of their customers simply because a blog’s author doesn’t like someone’s comments.

    Well, sure, but if the blog’s author lies and claims that the problem is actually something more urgent, ISPs are altogether too quick to give that up. (I used to work for an ISP!) A lot of ISPs have gotten terribly lazy about that, especially in response to DMCA complaints. That said, this sort of thing is rarely necessary!

    But there are things people can do if they want to anonymously post comments on a blog. Posting your personal email address in the required “Mail” textbox is not one of them.

    I think that’s a bit like saying “of course you can commit a bank robbery and not get caught—just don’t make any mistakes.” Well, sure, but people just about always make a mistake. Just once they enter the wrong (read as “right”) e-mail address, connect from work, forget to connect to a proxy, post under their real name, post under a different pseudonym, etc. As long as there’s some connecting thread (browser strings + IP subnets are mighty close to unique), all of those contributions from one person can be pulled together.

    Failing that, supercookies. :)

  • ….. “This sort of behavior perfectly underscores why franchises aren’t truly community-driven and likely don’t belong…” – Les

    After this there’ll definitely be very little encouraging of anything wanting to be “community driven.” Oh, how you can count upon the surety of ivory reaction in good ol’ Charlottesville. Mind you (aside from a high amount here of some, who also probably objected to Ntelo’s naming of the Pavillion), I’m of the (local) reasoning IT’S A FARMERS MARKET – not a Fashion Square Mall, Con-Agra, Nestle’s Corporation, Big-Box Chain Store, Walmart or a Commercially Bought-into Franchise.

    If I erred in that list, the 99.44/100% “purists” will soapbar that in a heart beat. Thank you for providing such an edifying forum here Waldo.

    @ Kaitlin
    “Just because I love their bread doesn’t mean I am a shill and I never said I lived in your high-minded town, but my stepfather does (attorney who knows Waldo personally).”

    Gee, glad you didn’t go lowbrow like comparing here to Peyton Place or Harper Valley. And, what’s up with the “not” suffering from dementia……..yet. I know plenty of folks here could be (yeah, look in their face) and that’s just the way it is (apologies Bruce Hornsby.) What do you expect of a city, which the government is heavily given favoritism unto bicyclists and puts efforts toward eradicating roads instead of radically remaking the multi-seat family vehicle? Unrelenting traffic sedation anyone?

    @ Michael
    …..”It’s possible that they are one in the same, but now Kaitlin’s denied it”…..

    Sorry, when the dance keeps going on here, it’s hard to keep up with others in this tango line. 140 posts, in deed!

    I found there’s lot’s of people that have the same shared name in common with moi. 52 in the US at last count, courtesy Google Search. My favorite googled imposter of me is…….. uth-uh, that would be telling. Suffice it to say, (fill in blank) and the Texas Heat, from out of Maryland. Perhaps you’re familiar with their one big cover song – “You Must Be Lying, Your Lips Are Moving”

  • @ danpri
    “Yeah, I know it is a stretch but still, when the chance to tie Waldo with Orwellian surveillance arrives, it HAS TO BE DONE!”

    Oh what you don’t know….. or do you?! Here, let me just pull up all the bedroom blinds for you right now!!!

    @ JMRL Fan – May 8, 2012 at 1:22pm

    No truth was ever better spoken about C’villers knickers. Advance to the head of the class. Could you imagine the pandamonium here were the existence of non-terrestrial aliens ever verified and acknowledged? Wait, that would only be a mere excuse for an excuse for NORML peddlers to light-up.

    …..”For my money, the City Market has far bigger problems than this – overcrowding and a non-handicapped accessible site to name just two.”

    Yes, even Dave Norris once blurted to the effect, something as this couldn’t fit on a parcel the size of a postage stamp. With the intense distrust and hate in this city of about anything industrial, commercial (or worse) sprawl – why doesn’t C’ville just buy out and tear down all of Seminole Square and put the d***** devil there? Then it’ll truly be “all at Seminole Square.”

    It’ll be a while before I can look at any loaf of bread the same again.

  • Farmers markets are about local economics. Make it here, sell it here. Money stays here, green benefits, etc.

    Since market space is at a premium, they should be tightening their rules. Maybe that means reducing the area that’s considered local, but they also need to look at this business size/structure thing.

    Farmers are a separate category. They are the main draw. They must grow all the produce they sell at market. But it doesn’t matter how big their farm or whether they send an employee.

    Makers of other things can have stricter rules. I would propose vendor-made. No employees at all in this category. If you need to hire help, you’ve outgrown the market. Limit partnerships to two people. Let it be a business incubator, and for those smallest businesses. That sidesteps the storefront rule. It is a city sponsored market and the city’s interest in non-farmers is to stimulate economic development. Maybe city residents get first shot?

    In the craft show business, there is a rule that says you can’t buy a kit, put it together, and call it handcrafted by you. Is there a version of that for prepared foods? It has to be your own family recipe? (you may have to make an expection for coffee!)

    Is the GH franchise using corporate recipes? Do they have employees?

  • Have any new developments occurred? I feel like the owners are deliberately ignoring this, hoping it will go away. Has another Farmers Market been held? I wonder how their sales will go if they choose to show up.

  • Bought a loaf of the Dakota Whole Wheat today. Delicious.

    Of and Waldo, just so you know… http://www.evilmilk.com/pictures/People_To_Find.htm

  • They were there today, this is the co-owner’s (Kath Younger, wife of Matt Monson) blog entry. Conveniently, she did not post photos showing the Great Harvest logo:
    http://www.katheats.com/local-jig

    I wonder what “panel on local food” she was speaking on, she does not talk about the panel sponsors or anything on her blog…

  • Wow. Her post seems brazen in light of all the controversy surrounding GH even being at the market in the first place.

  • Brazen is an understatement. Let’s face it, GH isn’t going to willingly leave the market any time soon. We’ll be lucky if the rules change next year to specifically exclude franchises.

  • So, if Greenberrys, a locally born coffee shop comes to the market, should it be disallowed because it franchises?

  • Yes.

  • “So, if Greenberrys, a locally born coffee shop comes to the market, should it be disallowed because it franchises?”

    Is this a rhetorical question? No franchise means no franchise.

  • @danpri, I think this is a great question. Is it the original Greenberry’s (i.e., Barracks) coming to the market? I’d allow them. That operation isn’t a franchise.
    Just like I’d think the city market in Dillon, Montana, assuming there’s one there, would allow the original Great Harvest.
    But if someone wanted to operate a franchise of Greenberry’s at the market, I’d say no. It’s an odd distinction I’m drawing, I’ll grant you, but there it is.

  • Sounds like the market needs to bite the bullet, set up shop in a big parking lot and let the free market sort things out. Pretty soon the vendor list will be stabilized and the “true” size need determined for a permanent home.

  • Except a farmers Market isn’t the “free market”. It isn’t just a piece of property where anyone with the money to buy or rent can set up shop and see if they can make it fly. It has a frame that is inherent to it. It is designed to be a place where local producers can present their goods. More accurately it is a place for residents to access local producers.The Market needs to establish a no franchise rule now so it can be more clear moving forward to hopefully, more and more vendors wanting to sell and maybe, if we are lucky, more space to offer them. It would be a good idea for them to start deciding how best to handle anyone with a store while they are at it.

  • And if the franchise is locally owned and the owner actually puts in the hours and buys stuff locally, then we penalize him for someone who comes in from out of town?

    Dont get me wrong, I am all for the little local guy making his bones. But the vitriol from the frothing left wing that apparently views anything corporate or out of town as evil is silly.

    Where were you all when the “Our Daily Bread” was being tossed from Barracks for Panera? How many of you have eaten at Panera? Yeah…thats what I thought. Talk is cheap, and while housing in Cville is pricey, the talk is not.

    Let the market, not a few screaming zealots decide.

  • Neither the City Market nor Barracks Road Shopping Center is nor should be a perfect incarnation of the abstract “free market”. Zealotry in _any_ direction will not benefit the City.

    With regard to that abstraction, the aim at hand ought be to provide the benefits of the _action_ of a free market to the City Market, which is a real and concrete place of commerce and therefore necessarily an _approximation_ to the abstraction. The debate to be held is over _how_ the City Market should approximate the abstraction: that is, in what ways should it _purposefully_ deviate from a zealot’s conception, in order to obtain the advantages of a “free market” _and_ to better support the principles held in common by the City.

  • I got lost with all the dashes.

  • danpri-
    Let me get this straight. Anyone who doesn’t want a non-franchise at the farmers market is automatically part of a “left wing that apparently views anything corporate or out of town as evil”? I’ll see you at Walmart unless you’ve injured yourself jumping to conclusions.

  • Old adage – the smaller the issue, the bigger the brouhaha. Obviously true here – 160 comments on something only slightly more important than hair color.

  • @JMRL Fan

    I must respectfully disagree. The CIty Market is one of the few places of commerce in Charlottesville wherein something of the nature of commerce in this city is evidenced with little or no input from outside this city. When questions are raised about who should be trading there and why, they’re not just questions about the few dollars for a loaf of bread. They’re questions about what citizens want from their markets and from their merchants, which are interesting and important questions. In Barracks Road Shopping Center or Fashion Square Mall or other privately-owned marketplaces, these questions don’t arise, for obvious reasons. The fact that they have at the City Market creates an opportunity to talk about matters that are very important indeed, and some of them have been raised in those 160 comments.

  • Where were you all when the “Our Daily Bread” was being tossed from Barracks for Panera?

    Barracks Road is a privately owned business. The City Market is run by the city, in an effort to promote locally produced goods. Not only does that make it our collective concern (unlike Barracks Road), but it also makes it our specific concern as to what constitutes a locally produced good. It is a logical fallacy to say that the free market should sort things out. The City Market exists precisely because the free market was sorting things out, eliminating the inefficiencies of locally produced goods in favor of goods from other parts of the country and other parts of the world. It is not exaggerating to say that the very purpose of the City Market is to contravene the will of the free market.

  • @Waldo

    Amen!

    And the question remains: if we want the City Market to approximate a “free market” (so that buyers, mostly citizens, get the benefits that accrue in those circumstances) but we _also_ want the City Market to run according to some other principles (we want farmers to farm near Charlottesville, we want merchants of other kinds to “be from” Charlottesville) then we have to define those principles so precisely that those who run the Market can reasonably enforce them.

    The very fact that this discussion is occurring seems to prove that we haven’t yet done that. Tom Snyder and “New Reality” and others have taken good-hearted stabs at it above, and I believe that we should continue that part of the discussion.

    WIth that in mind, the notions of “restrict by storefront” or “restrict by presence of owner” are problematic for me because they don’t get at the heart of what is disturbing to me about the notion of a franchise business in the City Market. That is this: a franchise, by definition, is a business for which a certain amount of income is sent outside the City. _That’s_ what troubles me about a franchise at the Market (although I recognize it may not trouble others). Part of what I understand the Market to be is a bulwark for the local economy, and it seems to me that franchise operations, in that light, are problematic. Now I admit, it’s not clear to me how I could draw out a prohibition from that distinction that could easily be enforced by Market officers, but perhaps a simple declaration (e.g. “None of the income of this stand will be transferred to a business not headquartered in Charlottesville or the surrounding counties.”) might be a start?

    In the spirit of Tom Snyder above, I’ll just throw that out and watch it be knocked down. {grin}

  • Word up, Waldo.

  • Thank you all for providing such wonderful entertainment on a stormy Monday. When we moved here 15 years ago a buddy of mine was giving my wife and I sh** for stopping at all the roadside stands. He said if I got out there early enough I could meet the Standard produce truck.

  • We have a Farmer’s Market?

    When did that happen?

    :-)

    I say this in jest, but honestly, the entire line of discussion here is based upon the assumption that what happens downtown on Saturdays is a “farmers” market. It’s not. That concept is a fallacy. When at least 50% of businesses in a market are not farmer or agricultural vendors, then we do not have a “farmers” market. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting my donuts on Saturday; my son loves the lemonade lady; that balloon guy is completely amazing; and I simply have to get some coffee from “anti-Cub” [inside joke for local coffee entrepreneur]. However, to refer to Saturday’s gathering as a “farmers” market is just plain wrong. It’s not a “farmers” market.

    The City’s name for this market is actually very, very accurate for what’s there. It is, according to the City, a “City Market” with the tag line “Producer Only Since 1973″. That’s what is down there, and to call it a “farmers” market is not accurate. As a “city” market, should the City limit access to the market just because of “how” a local citizen started their (locally-owned) business? Should a franchisee be automatically disqualified just because they are franchisee? Or should we look at the “product” and make the determination on whether it is appropriate for the market? If our “City Market” is defined as a “Producer Only” market, then GH qualifies and should be a part of the market. Their franchisee status is irrelevant. Their “product” is no different than the other “products” being sold by non-farm vendors at the “City” market. Also, while I am not a lawyer, I tend to doubt that a “franchisee-exclusion” would be legally defendable for a market operated in conjunction with a municipality.

    I’ve been to many real “farmers” markets before. I honestly like our market incarnation better, but it is not a “farmers” market. With this in mind, the City has to walk a very fine line with respect to what vendors are included and how vendors are chosen for inclusion. Once non-farm vendors are added to the mix (for a municipally operated market) it is a very, very slippery slope. How can one business be excluded, and another included, based on the “type” of business (franchised versus non-franchised)? I don’t think that can be done. Honestly, I’m not sure how the City is able to discriminate in favor of farmers versus food vendors or craft artisans in this market scenario either. It seems to be happening, but is it legally defendable? Perhaps it is, or perhaps just no one has questioned the legality of the City’s methodology with respect to favoring farmer and agricultural vendors.

    In addition, let us not forget that a “franchisee-exclusion” can also impact what “farmers” are included as well. Starting a business via a franchise is not limited to non-farm ventures only. Do a Google search for “organic farm franchise”, and you’ll see a plethora of farm-related franchising opportunities. Should locally produced agricultural products be excluded just because a farmer chooses to buy into a franchise as the methodology for starting their farm? No, that’s silly. It is locally produced regardless of franchisee status. The farmer that starts their business via a franchise is simply buying into existing expertise on a business and perhaps a degree of centralized administrative support. GH is doing the same.

  • I am also not a lawyer, but I am confident it is perfectly legal to discriminate against franchises, farmers, artisans, or whatever. Franchises aren’t a protected class of citizens, nor is selling at the City Market some sort of fundamental right. Unless there is something in the VA state code preventing barring this type of discrimination, but that seems silly to me. Perhaps Waldo can chime in on that one.

  • I dont know Waldo, everyone at the market is there to make money, not provide an area for pixie dust to be tossed about. So really you are talking about a Government sanctioned for profit industry in which the government decides who makes money and who does not?

    Although really, I think this is much ado about nothing. People don’t want to buy GH bread then dont buy it and they will stop selling on Saturdays. Vote with your wallet as they say, which was my point on “Our Daily Bread” vs. the corporate Panera. Anyway, whenever it is suggested that the government sort out the “marketplace” one can only get nervous.

    @Janet- well effectively yes. But you wont see me at Walmart no matter how long you stand around looking. My first choice money goes to owner operators who have at risk investment. You will not catch me eating at The Olive Garden when we have a Tavola, or Bonefish when we have Zinc. You will not catch me at Dicks when we have Downtown Athletic.

    That is the best way to vote for a business.

  • I know what follows may be an un-poplular opinion, but hey, the internet runs on flame-bait, so what the hell.

    Can we not, for a moment, forget about the free market, what the market is ‘supposed to be’, whether or not GH is a franchise or what kind of wheat they use? Can we not just boycott GH across the board because they seem to be kinda douchey?

    I mean, a decade ago, there was this local dude who sold Root 66 root beer round these parts. Good stuff, not elysium or anything, but still. When faced with a choice, I would always pick it, to support the local home team or whatever. But after that dude verbally, and very nearly physically, assaulted myself and my then wife on the downtown mall one evening, well… that was the last Root 66 I ever drank. I also always went out of my way to point out to others why I believed this man to be a colossal choad, and why supporting his product contributed to the general choadly-ness of this area. Did hurt his business? Probably not. But I felt better actively campaigning against his choadly ass. What a dick.

    So now we have GH, who set up shop at our little outdoor market. Someone asks “Hey, isn’t that a franchise? What gives” and a lively discussion ensues. Half the discussion seems to be about whether or not GH is a franchise. It obviously is, though the point is belabored by some very, very slick branding on the corporate end (“oh this is a totally unique CVS, its your friendly neighborhood drug store… hell its a freedom pharmacy!). Most of the rest of the discussion centers around what the City Market’s rules are and what they might be in the future, which while interesting, is really rather futile because both achieving consensus and dealing with the city council is like herding rather personality disordered cats. They might as well name it the Bypass Market and tell us all to check in in another forty years or so when they are done voting on whether or not to support the Greek bailouts, or something equally useful.

    And throughout this conversation, the only voice we hear from is some ghostly manchurian PR flack, who cut and pastes ad copy into comment fields, is soundly called on it, and then disappears back into earth tone, touchy-feely, bread borg in the mists of Montana. The only voices coming from the owners – across all media – are brief and, at best, corporate talking point platitudes and at worst outright condescension. Forgivable? Sure. Sometimes when shit stirs up on the internets, its best to just lay low and let it blow over. Perhaps its in the GH handbook to do so, i dont know. But when the point you are trying to make is that you are a good upstanding local citizen of Davemathewsberg, I think you could at least put in a little effort. But hey, that’s not my call.

    Personally, what puts me over the edge is the blog entry that SarahWNY linked above. You are the co-ownwer of an embroiled bakery, and you run a food blog (i use those terms very lightly), and your entry topic is the current source of your embroilment… and you what? Pretend that you are just some average happy go lucky park street side of the tracks boojy market person? Take pictures of your hubby, and then brag that you were on a “local food council”? That is beyond the valley of the lame. I my opinion, no one ever should by a single muffin at GH, if only because that KERF blog is such a vast festival of vapid stepford suck. (“I had yogurt today, ever tried it with honey? Here are fifty high res pictures! Look how cute my house is! Oh we are so happy!) But then again, thats just my opinion, and Im pretty bitter.

    So yeah, I say boycott them for being lame. The graceful thing would have been to bow out of the market, at least until the kerfuffle dies down. I mean, they have an actual storefront no? Do they really need the extra muffin money the market affords. Who knows? We don’t, because they ant budging, talking or even acknowledging the situation exists.

    If i were, and i paraphrase, “the one butthurt marketeer” that was upset with Grim Harvest bread, my solution would not be to cry to the internet or the city council. It would be something more creative like, oh, I dont know… buying a rubber stamp that says “Franchise Free”, and then stamp it on all the ones I have for change, then disseminate them as change, perhaps with a gentle explanation. Then sympathetic patrons could walk up to GH, order a muffin, and then, when it is time to pay, look in their wallet and say “Oh Im very sorry, I only have Franchise Free dollars left.” Its quiet, kinda funny, and if repeated enough times by enough people, might free up space for Uncle Cletus’ Specialized Onions and Leeks, or whatever other turnip truck needed the spot.

    Then again, this is not really my fight. I really don’t eat that much bread. And when I do manage to make it to the market, I find it way to engrossing debating that lady, the one that sings love songs to her chickens and cows before slaughtering them mercilessly, to actually shop for anything. She’s a hoot!

  • Why on earth would you think your opinion would be unpopular, B-Yo?

  • belmont yo, you had at least 3 spelling, punctuation or other grammar errors.

  • Plus one, B-Yo. As always.
    Minus one, GH.

  • danpri wrote, “So really you are talking about a Government sanctioned for profit industry in which the government decides who makes money and who does not?”

    It’s my understanding that the space dedicated to the City Market is not privately owned, or, if it is privately owned, there is public money allowing it to be used for the City Market. That makes this situation different than Barracks or any other free-market market: if public money is going into it, then the prime directive is NOT “get out of the way and allow the biggest bulliest private enterprises to keep hogging all the profit” (a.k.a. free-market capitalism). The prime directive can be “what is the best use of these public funds for the public good?” And if the answer is that the community benefits most from nurturing small local businesses and farms, then the City Market is absolutely in the right to say “you can make money here on this publicly funded piece of land, and you, Grim Harvest, can not.”

  • So really you are talking about a Government sanctioned for profit industry in which the government decides who makes money and who does not?

    Yup. This is done all the time. For instance, government gives contracts to vendors, and they give them out on the basis of all sorts of discriminatory standards (preferring small businesses, women-owned businesses, and minority-owned businesses). This is no different.

  • BTW, great rant, B-Yo. :)

  • Waldo, great observation:

    “ . . . government gives contracts to vendors, and they give them out on the basis of all sorts of discriminatory standards (preferring small businesses, women-owned businesses, and minority-owned businesses).” (“SWaM” businesses)

    However, I respectfully disagree that “This is no different”.

    You’ve got me thinking about how and when certain businesses are given preferential treatment within government sponsored activities, and there is something quite different here. In all occasions that I am familiar with, the type of (arguably justifiable) SWaM discriminatory standards you are referring have been part of a (generally public) solicitation process.

    What’s different here is that, to the best of my knowledge, there has been no public solicitation process in establishing these City-Market Vendor relationships.

    Why is that?

    City Code (Chapter 22, Article 1, Section 22-4) details City procurement parameters for “. . . city contracts with nongovernmental contractors for the purchase or lease of goods . . . .”.

    According to the Parks and Rec City Market website, there are contracts involved here between the City and the Market Vendors. Those contracts involve the purchase of goods. Just because the purchase itself is between the Market Vendor and a third party, does not necessarily exempt this City-Vendor purchasing contract from the City’s own procurement process.

    I personally have been involved in public solicitations (not with City) that are issued solely for the purpose of establishing contracts where a public entity is sponsoring or directing business between vendors and third parties. The City already does this in other similar situations. Take the third party concession vendors at City Pools. Those relationships (and the purchasing contracts that support those City-Vendor relationships) involve City sponsored purchasing between a vendor and third parties (folks that use the pools). To the best of my knowledge, I believe those relationships were established as a result of a public solicitation process.

    If the City issued a public solicitation for Parks & Rec’s Pool vendors, why is it not doing so for the City Market vendors?

    I’ve been involved thousands of public solicitations myself, and review solicitations and contracts from hundreds of other public bodies (city, counties, school boards, state/federal agencies, etc.). “Yes”, I have seen preferential treatment for SWaM businesses (and I would support that treatment for the City Market as well) and sometimes preferential treatment for vendors from a certain geographic area. However, I have never seen anything related to discrimination for or against franchised businesses versus non-franchised businesses in any public sector relationship. Is it illegal? I don’t know – I’m not a lawyer. However, it is simply not done (and I imagine that it is not done for a reason).

    Also, let us not forget that Charlottesville’s GH is a “small, local business”. The fact that they are a franchise does not mean they aren’t a “small, local business” as well. So, if the “community benefits most from nurturing small local businesses and farms”, then GH falls in that category as well.

    What is being forgotten in this discussion is the “product” itself. This Market is about the “product”, not about how the business is set up. Does GH’s “product” (and other Market defined parameters) conform to the Market’s provisions? The answer is yes. Is anyone required to buy GH’s “product”? No.

    To be completely truthful, I’m not going to be buying GH’s products. However, it does not have anything to do GH’s franchise status. I simply don’t care for GH’s style of bread and think their product is somewhat overpriced (and perhaps a little bit of B-Yo’s thought process as well).

    That being said, should a small, local business (producing an acceptable product locally) be bounced just because they’re a franchise. No, that’s silly. Should a small (non-franchised) business be bounced from the Market because they have an out of state bank or if they have out of state investors or if they hire an out of state consultant to help them with their business? No, that’s silly too. At this Market, it’s all about the product and how/where the product is produced, not how the business is set up.

  • Frank, you say “Also, let us not forget that Charlottesville’s GH is a ‘small, local business’. The fact that they are a franchise does not mean they aren’t a ‘small, local business’ as well,” but you’re simply asserting that as an inarguable fact. It simply isn’t an established fact; it’s entirely debatable, and therefore it is your opinion. Both the “small” and the “local” parts of that term are difficult to define precisely — how small is “small”? How close to Charbemarle is “local”? And so on. And so, for a lot of people, being a franchise of a national chain (whether it’s an Arby’s franchise or a GH franchise) means you’re not “local.” The name comes from the national chain. The recipes come from the national chain. The training comes from the national chain. The marketing expertise (such as it is) comes from the national chain. Etc. That’s very different, IMO, from one or two individuals from the local area coming up with their own ideas from scratch, without the benefit of a pre-packaged deal coming from a far-distant national chain. And, also IMO, the public monies supporting the City Market should be devoted to supporting the most local producers possible.

  • “ . . . government gives contracts to vendors, and they give them out on the basis of all sorts of discriminatory standards (preferring small businesses, women-owned businesses, and minority-owned businesses).” (“SWaM” businesses)

    However, I respectfully disagree that “This is no different”.

    I mean that it’s no different with regard to Dan’s concern about “a Government sanctioned for profit industry in which the government decides who makes money and who does not.” My point is just that they already do that, and have done so since about 1776-ish.

  • City Market was my first venue launching my home-based business as the single mother of an infant. Ergo, I know I have a bias about what I want the market to be, but the boot-strapping element is not inconsequential. I graduated from City Market to several cooperative ventures, one of which is still a going concern. The city got a 5% or 6% commission on my sales at the market (I forget which) & 1% of the sales tax my business generated at the market and at other sales locations in town. Plus business license income. City Market was essential to building my tiny little business so I could be home with my child when being home was most important. And City Market did that at a time when it wasn’t nearly as popular as it is now: you could literally show up the day-of and get an open spot.

    The produce portion of the market has grown exponentially since I participated in the market. My backyard veggie garden isn’t the anomaly it once was: schools & friendship court as well as many more neighbors now grow their own veggies & herbs. More of us are aware of the health benefits of freshly grown & locally produced produce (less gas used in transportation is a health benefit for the community/globe). City Market used to stipulate that products were grown or produced in Charlottesville or Albemarle. I don’t know if that still applies, but suspect it does.

    For a micro producer, capturing a retail rather than a wholesale price is a huge benefit. City Market gives an opportunity to do that at 5% or 6% overhead cost: that’s huge, huge huge. Retail mark-up is usually 100% — twice the wholesale cost — to pay for the bricks, mortar, staffing, advertising, etc.

    The math makes City Market a unique equation. If micro businesses didn’t matter to economic vitality, there would be no Grameen Bank or, locally, CIC. I don’t find it odd at all that the city can and/or should host a self-funding entity (which the Market is) that promotes micro & small business growth within the city. Taxpayers get more than they invest and the city is more variously vibrant economically. That’s win-win. Also seems to fit in well with that “promote the general welfare” thing we got going as a nation courtesy of that guy down the road…in 1776-ish.

    Re Belmont Yo: I’m still not over speed limits for high horses; it’ll take me some time to process this particular & wonderful rant. I think I like him best in the throw-aways that take my breath away.

Comments are currently closed.

Sideblog