UNM Rainforest Innovations

Edgar Solis, the Founder and CEO of Alma’s Salsa, wrote a piece for the Albuquerque Journal on the importance of farmers markets for small businesses and the need for change in public policy to support their growth. There are so many valuable aspects of farmers markets. Not only do they provide lots of foot traffic and exposure for new businesses, but they also allow vendors to better understand their market by meeting customers face-to-face and testing pricing and packaging in real time.

However, farmers markets have some limitations and when businesses are ready to expand, they are met with many obstacles. This can be discouraging for small vendors, and it begs the question: how can we support these small businesses and their success? There is a campaign called Right to Start with the goal of rebuilding the American economy by making entrepreneurial opportunity a top priority in every community. Edgar Solis is an advocate for the campaign and believes shaping public policy could help more businesses flourish here in Albuquerque.

See Edgar Solis’ May 23 article, “ABQ can make farmers markets dynamic pipelines for small business,” reposted below and on the Albuquerque Journal Website here: https://www.abqjournal.com/2501234/ready-to-grow-2.html

Learn more about Right to Start at: https://www.righttostart.org/

Also check out Alma’s Salsa at: https://www.almassalsa.com/

ABQ can make farmers markets dynamic pipelines for small business

By Edgar Solis, Founder and CEO, Alma’s Salsa, Albuquerque

With spring unfolding, farmers markets are reopening in Albuquerque, and it’s cause for celebration. They offer spectacular food and other local products, and they provide an extraordinary vehicle for promoting new business growth. That latter role is often overlooked when it should be more highly prized by local policymakers.

I know both roles well, as I am a vendor at two farmers markets: the Downtown Growers Market Albuquerque in Robinson Park, and the Farmers Market at The Rail Yards in Barelas. It’s easy to focus on the wonderful products for sale, and I strongly encourage it. But farmers markets offer much more. They are a dynamic pipeline for small business growth with three key components.

  • First, farmers markets offer a flexible retail setting that a new business can use at its own pace. A vendor can take as much or as little space as needed for as many days each week as desired.
  • Second, farmers markets give a vital promotional boost to participating businesses. They bring high-volume foot traffic and much-needed visibility.
  • Third, farmers markets provide vendors with an opportunity to understand better how to market and price each product. I started a company that sells salsa made from a recipe that my mother brought with her decades ago from her native Mexico. Its ingredients reflect our family’s heritage in Mexico, our many years in Alaska where I grew up and our more recent years in New Mexico. The farmers markets let me experience firsthand the response of customers to samples of our various products, and I can test out pricing and packaging combinations.

I often talk with other vendors at farmers markets and gain valuable insights. One insight is that many of those vendors are not thinking about growing their businesses further. They have gone through the process of being certified for the farmers market – incorporating the business, getting a business license, getting a tax identification number and meeting health requirements, among others. Having reached that level, they are focused on succeeding in that context. A second insight is every time you want to take a business further, there are more hurdles to overcome, and those hurdles seem daunting – even forbidding.

Those two insights alone could shape public policy to make it easier for small businesses to grow. Those insights also caused me to become an advocate in Albuquerque for a national nonprofit organization called Right to Start, which champions entrepreneurship as a community priority. It advances ways in which government at all levels can reduce barriers to small business growth.

  • City officials in Albuquerque, for instance, should create an initiative to help small businesses grow by making the required government steps less daunting. It’s hard at present just to know where to get the needed government information.
  • City officials should also postpone licensing fees. Why does the city require businesses to pay for licenses before the business has revenue? Waiting until the business is up and running would even benefit the city, which would have more businesses.
  • The city should also seek out small businesses to encourage them to advance and grow. Here again farmers markets make outreach easy.

The distinctive products of Albuquerque’s farmers markets are now available. By enjoying them, you can support a pipeline that offers enormous promise for small business growth in the area.

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