Winter markets are all the rage these days. The Rochester Public Market—shown in the photo above in the 1950s—has a century’s head start refining the concept: It’s operated year-round since 1897.
“A lot of people think of us as the ‘Great White North,’ ” says market director Jim Farr, “but [even in winter] there are a lot of options for people to buy locally.”
Half of the regular vendors work through the season, serving a weekly crowd of 10,000 to 15,000 shoppers, even in the coldest months. For regular market-goers, says Farr, “it’s such a part of their lives that it would be rough if we weren’t open.”
RPM has had just one weather-related closing in the 16 years Farr has been on the job. In fact, kerosene heaters and layered gloves hold so much charm for the market’s hardy vendors that they voted down winterizing RPM’s main building.
Ginny Eaton has been at it for 40 years, offering up storage apples, holiday wreaths and an array of cold-season vegetables from her family-owned Eaton Farm in Ontario. This time of year, she says, folks don’t dawdle.
“In the summer more people come for the ambiance of strolling the market. But in winter people come, they look and they buy.”
The Rochester Public Market is open, with masks and social distancing required, from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays at 280 N. Union St. in Rochester, NY.
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