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by Jordan Green

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Integrity of farmers market seen as improved

About 75 vendors and customers showed up for a public meeting at the Guilford County Cooperative Extension on Jan. 6 to discuss the future of the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market, which has been strained in recent years by disputes over enforcement of rules designed to give preference to local growers.

Market Manager Larry Smith underscored the premium that is placed on tables at the market, which hums with life every Saturday morning.

“How do you get to be a vendor?” he asked rhetorically. “Somebody has to die. It’s almost that ridiculous. Very few tables are given out. Farmers are the only ones that are going to get a permanent table…. The more you’re there the faster I’m going to give you a table.”

A cooperative extension agent visited at least six farms last fall to verify that vendors were growing the produce on sale at the market rather than buying and reselling products in violation of market rules. The recent enforcement actions have clearly rubbed some vendors the wrong way.

“It was plain out targeting,” said one vendor during the meeting.

Gerry Alfano, who retired from the city in November after eight years as the market coordinator, said she is heartened that efforts have been taken to ensure the integrity of the market.

“If you’re a farmer and you’re trying to survive growing your produce and someone comes in and tries to resell and they haven’t been out battling the elements… farming is an incredible amount of work… to have somebody come in and resell who hasn’t done that, it’s not a level playing field by any means.”

She said that consumers are also shortchanged when vendors misrepresent their product.

“If you buy something and you find out someone hasn’t been truthful to you, then you are going to be very disappointed,” she said. “And you have the right to be.”

Ultimately, she said she sees the turnout at the Jan. 6 meeting as evidence that vendors and consumers share a stake in the continued success of the market.

“I think the market is a really important part of the community,” she said.

“It’s been in existence since 1874. I don’t think it gets enough resources and recognition. I hate that it gets all this controversy on one hand, but I hope it gets better because of this.”

Yard sales for good causes move into storefront

HOPE Thrift Store opened in a storefront rented at a discount by Lachey Electric on Bellemeade Street in Greensboro in late October. HOPE stands for Helping Other People Everyday, and Lance Gallison says the enterprise grew out of a series of charity yard sales in August to raise money to sponsor Gallison’s sister in law, Donna Tate, and another woman, Teresa Hall, in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure to fight breast cancer.

After raising money for breast cancer research, the volunteers decided to rotate to a new cause — buying toys for children whose families have been battered by the economic downturn.

“Our thought was we thought every child we came across should get one gift a month,” Gallison said. “Someone made the comment that little children don’t understand what a recession is. Mom and dad have been laid off from work, and this takes some pressure off of them.”

Gallison said about $600 a month of the store’s income goes to administrative overhead, including rent, utilities and sales tax, with the rest going to the beneficiaries. The labor is completely volunteer at this point. The store is set up to benefit not only the selected causes — prostate cancer, liver disease and Alzheimer’s disease will be tackled later in the year — but also consumers.

The store tries to keep its prices affordable. For example, adult blue jeans go for $2, and children’s clothes are priced at a dollar an item. The store recently sold a sofa and loveseat to an expectant mother for $75. HOPE Thrift Store is located at 711 Bellemead St., two blocks west of NewBridge Bank ballpark, in Greensboro. The store is open 10 a.m. to 2. p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday through Saturday. Customers can purchase all the clothes they can stuff in a bag for $3 every Wednesdays under the “Wacky Wednesday” marketing concept.

Greensboro real estate company moves downtown

Taylor Pope & Herring, a real estate appraisal and consulting firm, has relocated to 305 Blandwood Ave. in downtown Greensboro following a 15-year residency in the northwest area, Downtown Greensboro Inc. has announced.

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