By Anne Landman on July 04, 2010

No fake farmers markets, Safeway!A woman driving by a Safeway store in Kirkland, Washington, spotted a big banner in front of the store announcing a farmer's market that weekend, so she stopped to get more details. The manager explained that Safeway employees were going to be setting up tents and selling Safeway produce, farmer's market-style, in front of the store. That sent up red flags for Martha Tyler, who organizes a real farmer's market in Redmond, Washington. Tyler immediately alerted local farmers market associations to Safeway's plot to cash in on people's attraction for farmers markets, and a protest ensued. The Washington State Farmers Market Association sent Safeway a letter pointing out that state law defines farmers' markets as including five or more growers selling directly to consumers, and explaining that the intent of a farmers market is to foster closer connections between local farmers and their customers. Safeway responded by offering to drop the term "farmers market" and instead call it something like a "weekend outdoor market." Advocates were pleased with the change, but still wish big grocery retailers like Safeway would buy more of their produce from local farmers, instead of merely trying to impersonate farmers markets.

Comments

I cannot believe what Safeway was trying to pull off. As a business owner myself I firmly believe that being honest with your customers will earn you a lot more in the long run compares to these type of ridiculous marketing tactics.

I guess this is similar to many instances where people are selling in 'the style of'.

It is so tempting to sell like that without a thought for who it is actually harming. I'm sure Safeway meant no harm to actual farmers but should have considered the matter a little more closely.

Did Safeway mean harm? My guess is that they didn;t give a hoot. They were just chasing money. As an Aussie Im sick and tired of supermarkets not caring about local growers. For instance, we have orchardists burning orange trees here in Australia while supermarkets import them from USA and other countries. I believe we import your lemons too. Not good for lcoal growers at all!

Ha ha! Safeway tried to pull a fast one there and got caught. I live in Hawaii and love the local farmers market with all the fresh local produce. Best time to get awesome deals is in the afternoon when the vendors are trying to get rid of stuff before they go home. I'm not sure that SafeWay or other supermarkets can compete with the prices even if they did get away with the 'farmers market' scheme. Not here, anyway, where Safeway produce are flown in from the mainland.

Are they trying to ride to current hip which is the farmers market? Geez they can't even think of a new marketing strategy.

It seems to me that this story is related to a recent story about Sams Club starting to offer loans to consumers because the banks were sitting on their money and not loaning it to anyone. Safeway probably had some sales meeting in which some genius came up with the plan to boost sales.

With most food markets having a small and overpriced section in their produce department for organic and fresh produce it doesn't surprise me that they are trying to jump on the whole food bandwagon but with such loose regulations on food and labeling it is no surprise they are trying to get in under the radar and grab some of that natural , organic crowds cash...

Sounds to me like Safeway is getting more creative in ways to stay alive. While it's nice to support the farmers, it is also bad for grocery stores to go under.

Uh, yeah. Have you forgotten where the grocery stores get their food? There is no either-or. We MUST support farmers in every locale.
The grand stupidity comes when we use precious oil resources to ship our lemons to Australia and, at the height of produce season in the US, ship apples in from New Zealand. This is the type of insanity that's driving resources to the brink, and globally driving farmers out of business.
When we no longer have the "freedom" to waste oil, the plight of the grocery store will be the least of our worries.

Safeway was certainly trying to use the known term "farmers markets" to their own "weekend market." Seems like they didn't expect her to call them on the term. They must know their target audience really well but missed the hint the farmers and audience were giving them. Maybe if they bought from the farmers, they would have greater success.

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