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At the Davis Farmers Market

After months of design and weeks of testing locally at markets and grocery stores, the cart made her maiden voyage at the Davis Farmers Market, a Saturday morning affair in downtown Davis, California. This is one of the oldest, most notable, and largest markets in California. It serves 500,000 shoppers a year and in 2009 was voted Americas best farmers market.

About 2 years ago I went the Wednesday evening market, with great food and live music, but this was my first time at the Saturday one. I was surprised by the size, quality, and friendliness of the market vendors and shoppers. Despite being the middle of winter, and in a pandemic, the weather was perfect everyone was cheery.

Davis is a 1 hour drive from home but this was a strategic choice for maiden voyage. My in-laws, and early cart muses, live in Davis and shop at the market weekly. They provided a lot of insight as the cart developed and were eager to try out the prototype. Just in case of issue, I brought along a few tools to do on-the-road repairs. Fortunately none of these were needed.

I tried to be as hands off as possible and let them, mostly Dad, do the discovery. They had barely rolled 50 feet before they were stopped by a group of old friends - they know a lot of the market regulars - and had a conversation about the cart. They loved the design and thought it was extremely practical for market shoppers. It was this time that Mom began her side-hustle selling carts. She was a natural at marketing it and handing out business cards!

We barely rolled another 10 feet before a father-son duo stopped to talk. They were interested in the wood working and the design more than the market practicality. It was really interesting to see two different groups with totally different interests want to talk about the cart. Another great conversation, another business card.

Wood shopping cart holding produce at Davis Farmers Market

After 15 minutes we made our way around the market, Dave finding out where the bottle of wine should go (yes, they sell wine at this market!) then the eggs, citrus, mushrooms, and the cup of coffee. There's a spot for pretty much everything and it didn't take long for items to find their place.

As was the case at my local market, vendors are particularly interested in the cart. I think this is because they are in a more conversational mood than shoppers, plus they see everything and when something new comes along they are quick to talk about it. This benefits them, too, because I was more likely to buy a few things from them since they were so friendly and curious. This trip to the market was not a shopping excursion, but I came home with some goodies. Notably bottled items like jam, almond butter and a bottle of Heringer Estates Farmers Market Blend.

Before ordering food and making our way to the big open lawn for some needed R&R, we stopped to talk to the long-time market manager Randii MacNear. Given her tenure and success of the market, Randii has earned her reputation as one of the best market managers in the business. We chatted about the market, the cart, and most importantly, the gorgeous African Bolga Baskets on display. They sells tons of these in all sizes and colors! These baskets are woven by women in Ghana who earn fair trade living. I encourage you to check these out.

Relaxing and enjoying our Shakshuka bowls from FatFace, the cart continued to draw attention in the park. Several people struck up conversations about the style, details, and gave feedback on the color options. I was touched when someone compared it to the Stokke Tripp Trappe, an iconic high chair that was beautifully designed in Norway and extremely versatile for families around the world. We own a Stokke, and I was certainly inspired the the simplicity, quality, and pure 'woodiness' of this piece of furniture when drawing early versions of the cart.

Lunch in the park was a great way to end the morning and meet more wonderful people. I'd love to go back with a bigger shopping list and when I have a few carts to sell. Dad rolled the cart back to the car, unlatched the top section, and put in the trunk. We discussed the features, and some flaws, at length, before parting ways.

Thanks to Dave, Eileen, and everyone we met at the market that day. Cheers!

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