Artists and farmers in the Green Valley area aren’t letting the heat stop them from putting their products in front of customers.
Luring the customers is another challenge.
Every Wednesday morning, local farmers and artisans gather to sell their goods at the Green Valley Village Farmers and Artisans Market.
The market connects local farmers to their community, said Lena Melnick, lead market manager for Heirloom Farmers Markets, which operates the Green Valley market.
“Food is still growing,” she said. “It’s a mix between both food and artisan goods.”
Some vendors have been selling since the market opened in December 2008, and others have only been there a couple of years. They all see sticking it out through summer as dedication to their customers.
Brigette Cochard, who sells freshly baked French goods, said she’ll only stop selling if the people stop coming.
“It’s a business, not a hobby,” said Louise Epstein, who sells hand-beaded jewelry for her business, Unusuals.
Local farmer Kathy Robbs said faithfulness is important to customers.
“People need consistency with their food source,” she said.
Their peak season, October to April, brings 1,500 to 2,000 customers a week, Melnick said. Summer is a different story.
“We see a 50 to 75 percent decline in business,” she said. “It is a very snowbird market.”
Best estimates over the decades indicate about one-third of Green Valley residents leave for the summer. The season also means fewer vendors.
“It’s the minimum,” Melnick said mid-June. “We have about 35 vendors right now, but at our peak season we probably have about 150.”
The change of pace is abundantly clear to vendors who stick around.
Pierre Dogbe, who sells pure African shea butter, said it’s a slow business in summer, but it’s “better than staying home.”
“It doesn’t sell stock to just stay at the facility,” said Jeffery Moore, a vendor who sells cacti.
Merchants are not the only ones who notice a summer slowdown.
Curt and Mary Gentry, who have visited the market for 12 years, say it’s to be expected.
“It’s Arizona,” Curt said.
Heirloom Farmers Markets operates four other markets in Southern Arizona and none shut down for the summer.
“They are more food-based and farm-based, and food grows all year round in Tucson,” Melnick said.
To compensate for the heat, Heirloom opens and closes its markets an hour earlier. They also send out a newsletter that gives tips on how to stay cool during a visit to the market.
Dogbe, however, has different ideas on the heat and staying cool.
“It’s hot if you think it’s hot,” he said. “Heat is all in the head.”