Can small towns have food halls and public markets?

Let’s make one, #IdeaFriendly style


I think every small town wishes they had a public food market or food hall. You know the kind: a big building with lots of small food related businesses from cafes to farm stands to bakeries to jams and jellies. We’ve visited them in big towns, and we want them for our town too. 

But dang that would be a lot of work. 

In a virtual workshop I led for North Carolina Small Businesses, Inge and Maggie shared that they were working on this kind of a market: bricks and mortar, year round market for produce and local foods, with a coffee and juice bar and a seating area. A lot of work! 

How can they get started in an Idea Friendly Way? Take small steps.

Step 1. Start with an empty lot and a tent. 
Step 2. Pop up a temporary food market inside it with just a few booths.
Step 3. Grow from there. 

Actually, you don’t even need the tent to start. You could start with a single booth of food, if you also use it as a chance to talk to everyone about starting a bigger market. 

  • Set up booths to sell local foods at existing local events. 
  • Set up in the parking lot of another business, or on sidewalks. 
  • Equip a trailer or small truck to travel to nearby towns to sell food at their events.

Never start with buying a building. Start with tiny and temporary steps first. 

Creating a local foods market is just one part of a whole ecosystem of local food businesses. Find out more about creating a local food business ecosystem with this video we created for you.

Keep shaping the future of your town, 

PS – See the food hall/public market photos and find out what else I told Maggie and Inge in How to grow a food and produce market business in a small town, the Idea Friendly Way.