An Artist’s Experience at the Downtown Farmers’ Market
Who would have thought that I, an artist from a small city in the Midwest, would be a part of a farmers’ market that has been ranked one of America’s best farmer’s markets in the country?
I would be dishonest if I said I didn’t have high anxiety and fear when my first day as a vendor at the Downtown Farmers’ Market fast approached. I had gone to The Market a couple of times in my youth and hadn’t really gone again until a couple of weeks before my first day. As I strolled through the streets, I was truly amazed at how The Market has changed. When I was younger, I remember it mostly being just that. But now, I was taken back by the variety of Market products. I saw food vendors, makeup vendors, jewelry vendors and more!
What I Loved at The Market
On my first day, waking up early in the morning was an adjustment, but all my anxiety and fatigue vanished once I saw the first set of the early-bird crowd forming in the streets. Being a vendor at a farmers’ market is an incredibly rewarding experience where vendors have an opportunity to meet and connect with other vendors and customers from various backgrounds. Not only is it beneficial to meet and interact with new people, but vendors can also learn a lot about the local food culture in Greater Des Moines (DSM). I also enjoyed tasting all the delicious foods that were there.
The best part about being a vendor was being able to bring my own unique products, including coloring books, journals and paint kits to The Market and showcase them to the DSM community. I noticed that a lot of the customers that came to my tent were overjoyed about there being a more creative business at The Market. I didn’t know there would be such interest in art at the event. I enjoyed seeing kids come up to my vendor booth ecstatic about the different types of coloring books I offered for kids. I also enjoyed seeing adults and teens walk up to my area and glance through my coloring books, laughing at my sarcastic quotes coloring books and showing them to their family and friends.
The Market was also a great way to network and build relationships with other vendors and customers. I was surprised by the amount of support and enthusiasm that the customers bring to The Market and am delighted to be a place for residents and visitors to DSM to shop local, support the region’s economy and help our small business owners.
I enjoyed my time being a vendor at The Market where I was able to connect with new customers that have become frequent customers of mine since our first encounter. My advice to anyone who is interested in being a vendor at the Downtown Farmers’ Market is to do it — fear and all — because it will help you grow your business with a new customer base (not to mention the networking at The Market is insane!). Overall, being a vendor at The Market is an experience I would recommend to any small business owner looking for a unique and enjoyable way to make a difference in their community.
Take a look at what last year’s Market experience was like!
I am still getting email inquiries from customers and interested patrons referred to me by someone they knew who had stopped by my booth. I have also been asked to be a vendor at other local events because of my participation at The Market. I believe had I not been a vendor there, my business wouldn’t be where it is today.
From May to October, experience local artists, live music and entertainment at the Downtown Farmers’ Market featuring nearly 300 family farmers, bakers, artists and crafters from around the state. It’s easy to visit with plentiful and affordable street and ramp parking options.
Des Moines-based artist and illustrator, Shayla Williams, creates artwork inspired by her life experiences and her desire to share her skills with others. Her business, Shay Design Studio, is a platform specializing in art education and products for all skill levels in drawing, painting and writing. Follow Shay on TikTok at shaydesignstudio1.