Despite competition, booth owners believe cross promotion is key
When walking into Crossroads Market, the atmosphere presents itself similar to a closely-knit community. Vendors are often seen visiting other stalls, helping out or giving each other a deal on their favourite product. Like most markets, the stalls are fairly close together, which can result in friendships, or on occasion, a sense of tension between the vendors.
“What I’ve learned from doing markets is, because there’s so many businesses close by, you have to promote each other,” says John Opyc, owner of Harvest Hill Foods operating at Calgary’s Crossroads Market.
Opyc and his wife have been at the Crossroads Market selling perogies —home made from his mother’s recipe — for three seasons. He explains the quality of the friendships that arise from working at markets and can only recall a couple of incidences where there have been conflicts. Opyc says that if a vendor starts to mimic the product from another vendor, there can be territorial issues over which business has the right to sell this product.
“People are people so there are going to be conflicts, but I haven’t seen it where the conflict affected the business,” Opyc says.
Crossroads Market has been family owned and operated since 1987. Bob Kendall started working at the market seven years ago and says the majority of the vendors get along. Kendall, similar to Opyc, says vendors do occasionally note the successful products from other businesses and bring them into their own stalls, which can cause some problems. According to Kendall, if there is an issue with a vendor they may be asked to leave because it is not healthy for the market’s environment.
Kendall says meeting with vendors beforehand to get a feel for their personality is important in ensuring they will fit into the market atmosphere. According to Kendall, throughout all 26 years of the Crossroads Market being in business, only around four vendors have been asked to leave.
Photo by Allison Badger
“At the end of the day, this is a big happy family and if there are issues, we deal with them,” Kendall says.
There are a large variety of unique vendors at the Crossroads Market who very much enjoy their participation in the business. Michael Pavlic, of Purple Gorilla Comics, loves working at the market because everyone is neighbourly and he believes the market is a good community to be a part of. Although he has heard of some vendor conflicts, Pavlic has not experienced any himself. His only complaint about the market is that he can’t be working there 24/7.
Jason Wiebe, owner of Chongo’s Produce Market, sees all vendors as being equally important and works to promote their businesses as well as his own.
“I make an effort to get to know the people at the market and their products,” Wiebe says.
Personally, Wiebe has not had issues with conflicts in the market because he says if people are not meant for the market environment, they won’t last. He adds that personable people do well in markets because customers want interaction and if vendors can’t provide customer service, they will not stay in business. Wiebe acknowledges the value of interdependence within the market and how critical it is to Crossroad Market’s success.
Even though there may be the occasional issue amongst vendors, the Crossroads Market is prosperous as a whole because of the more frequent, friendly interactions between the smaller businesses. Opyc describes the friendships he has formed while working at the market. Friendships he did not expect when he first became a vendor at Crossroads.
“Wally the cupcake guy, he brings coffee for everyone. He’ll come in the mornings and he brings the coffees, no questions asked,” Opyc says. “At the end of the day on Sunday, he has another business, so he goes to that after he finishes here, so whatever I have for leftovers I package up, and that’s his supper.”