An outdoor, summer idea that has grown substantially in Columbus has taken root and earned a warm, indoor, wintertime reception.

Organizer Sande Hummel proclaimed the first Columbus City Winter Farmers Market a success after several hundred people browsed or purchased everything from fresh vegetables and eggs to wreaths Saturday inside the west end of FairOaks Mall on 25th Street.

“Vendors have sold a lot of meat and a lot of produce,” Hummel said near the close of the three-hour event. “And the crowd has been good.”

Hummel estimated that 150 people visited within the first hour. They stopped to check out items from 15 vendors to kick off the indoor market concept — one that has been discussed for several years locally.

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“I knew that the idea has been here,” said Columbus’ Pamela Alms, a former Bloomington resident who has visited that winter market in years past. “I think this is awesome. And, oh yeah, there’s enough support. And I think they’ve found a good location for it.”

As Alms spoke, she purchased homemade breads and pies from Horst’s Homemade Baked Goods of Hope, which did a brisk business near the end of the morning.

Hummel hopes for a similar or better crowd beginning 9:30 a.m. Saturday when the market features a Christmas emphasis with possibly a few added vendors. One of those will be Columbus’ Priya Buge selling handmade Kaya Soaps, and also skin care and spa products.

Buge, who visited the inaugural winter market to assess its potential, said she liked what she saw in foot traffic and vendor sales.

“I love fresh, organic food,” Debra Frazee said as she bought kale and other items. “I just suffer in the winter if I can’t easily find it.”

Labeling herself a picky shopper, Frazee said she would return Saturday for holiday items.

North Vernon’s Peggy Harris discovered the market when she walked into the mall for other shopping. Within minutes, she purchased organic beef and other meats.

“I just like to know where my food is coming from,” Harris said. “I see that the meat is advertised as the grass-fed variety, and that’s important to me.”

Some of the winter vendors have been a part of the summer city market at the mall. Others have been a part of the summer downtown market.

Staff at the Poseys and Pumpkins booth have sold at both locations, plus markets in Indianapolis and elsewhere in recent years. For the Christmas market, her family will sell 12-inch to 30-inch Christmas wreaths priced at $12 to $60.

“This has been really busy,” said Poseys and Pumpkins’ MacKenzey Shatto, selling greenhouse vegetables such as broccoli and red cabbage.

Some vendors, such as the Bartholomew County Humane Society, were only temporary. But volunteers Cheryl Zuckschwerdt-Ellsbury and Wendy Elwood sold plenty of items such as handmade pet pillows for $5 and bags of cookies for the same price.

“We’ve done very well,” Zuckschwerdt-Ellsbury said.

Shopper Kevin Blair said he hopes the winter market succeeds.

“I think it’s important,” Blair said, while buying eggs, peppers and a wreath. “There’s a real need for greenhouse produce that’s grown locally.”

A Christmas market

What: Columbus City Winter Farmers Market with a Christmas emphasis.

When: 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

Where: West end of FairOaks Mall, 2380 25th St. in Columbus.

Featuring: Christmas wreaths, jams, soaps, plants and a range of meats and produce.

Information: Facebook page at Columbus City Farmers Market.

By the numbers

3: Hours the market runs each Saturday

15: Number of current vendors at the market

19: Weeks the market will run through March 26

150: Estimated number of people visiting in the first hour Saturday

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.