According to Local First Arizona, a nonprofit organization that celebrates independent businesses throughout Arizona, small businesses in Downtown Phoenix have seen anywhere from an 80 to 100 percent decrease in profits over the last few months. Recognizing the need, Suns Charities huddled up with Local First and Devin Booker and committed to supporting downtown Phoenix-area restaurants and food vendors with $100,000 in funding that will go towards helping feed the hungry in our community. As part of the Suns’ Small Business Assist program, Phoenix Downtown Farmers Market has received $5,000 that will underwrite meals for those in need.
To spotlight the participating businesses, we connected with Phoenix Downtown Farmers Market Executive Director Sara Matlin, who shared more about the local market, the partnership with the Phoenix Suns and giving back to the community.
Phoenix Downtown Farmers Market
The Phoenix Downtown Farmers Market (721 N Central Ave Phoenix, Arizona 85004) recently provided meals for Save The Family, a local nonprofit that equips families with housing, schooling and additional resources to address poverty, overcome homelessness and achieve self-sufficiency.
Can you provide a little history of Phoenix Downtown Farmers Market?
We are a nonprofit organization, which is fairly unique for farmers markets in the Valley. Our organization Community Food Connections has been operating the Phoenix Downtown Farmers Market in the heart of the city since 2005 and we’ve grown from having a dozen vendors each Saturday to more than 100.
What drives the passion behind the menu at Phoenix Downtown Farmers Market?
We do what we do because of our commitment to the community. We’re a vital food outlet and our mission is to support our local food system and a healthy neighborhood. Health is manifested in a variety of ways and we believe access to fresh local groceries is one way to support the health of our community. The market provides communal support, as well, for local businesses to offer another outlet to sell their goods and services. The farmers market is an incubator for small business. Additionally, we’re a platform that offers new and young businesses and restaurants an opportunity for exposure to potential local customers directly. We’ve had great success seeing products first introduced at our market now in grocery stores and beyond. It’s been incredible to see the growth over the years!
What does it mean to you to be a part of the Downtown Phoenix culture?
It means everything to us; our market has grown organically over the years from a small list of vendors to more than a hundred rotating every week. The only way we’ve become what we are is because of the community support and the Downtown Phoenix area and its culture growing through the years.
How important is giving back to the community to Phoenix Downtown Farmers Market and what does it mean to you to team up with the Phoenix Suns?
Community is everything. Everything we do comes full circle, we focus on ways to support local businesses and food producers which in turn supports our community’s health by providing access to fresh, local groceries. The market is this full cycle system that creates sustainable health for our community and its businesses. We are so excited to be included in this program with the Phoenix Suns that highlights and expands this cycle to support each other and the community in need. The Suns are such an integral part of the downtown culture it makes this partnership so much fun and we’re thankful to be a part of it.
What are your current capabilities and what are some current offerings you would like to highlight?
Our farmers market is open to the public every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. However, we have reduced our number of vendors to allow for adequate spacing for the market layout. We have 50 vendors supplying a wide variety of local foods and groceries. Online orders can be placed in advance for curbside pickup service available between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturdays.
Why is it important to support local businesses?
It’s vital! Right now, with everything being impacted by COVID-19, we’re witnessing such a strong emphasis on people choosing to spend their money locally. It’s incredibly important and truly shows how significant it is to shop local and support the small businesses in the community. It’s essential to our survival that we have local farmers and others providing for our community, especially when we cannot rely on larger food supply chains.
How has the coronavirus pandemic changed your business model?
We took it upon ourselves to be industry leaders and make responsible decisions for the health and safety of our vendors and customers at the market. We’ve been taking this current situation seriously and have adapted to stay ahead to remain an essential service for the community. We’ve introduced additional safety and sanitation protocols, reduced the number of vendors down to 50 to allow for an adjusted layout and working with businesses on any support they need.
What is it going to take for small businesses to survive this difficult time?
Community support. Local dollars have such a huge impact here in the community. It’s a scary time with so much uncertainty, but we’re truly thankful to have such a strong downtown community that supports us. The heart of the city really cares about one another, it’s amazing to see the community’s ongoing support and specifically choosing to spend their dollars locally.
To support this local organization and learn more about the Phoenix Downtown Farmers Market, visit ShopTheFarmersMarket.org or follow on Instagram at @dtphxfarmersmarket. Be on the lookout for more local restaurant profiles from the Phoenix Suns as we continue to partner with Local First.