Sunday, December 27, 2009

New Year's Resolution: Experience Downtown Cincinnati

I was born and raised in a suburb of St. Louis. We went to "the city" for Cardinals' baseball games, Blues' hockey games, occasional shopping at Stix, Baer, & Fuller, and special-occasion dinners. Other than that, we went to school, worked, shopped, and played in our little suburban world.
I went to college at Miami University in the picture-perfect rural collegiate town of Oxford, Ohio. Then I moved to suburban Cincinnati where I taught school at a suburban school for 9 years. After that, my husband and I started our business of building homes primarily in suburbia. We raised our 2 children in the suburbs and sent them to a typical suburban school. We go "downtown" to conduct business with the building department, to attend Bengals and Reds games, to visit my urban professional brother, and to dine out for that special occasion.
However, something strange has happened over the last year or so. I've always enjoyed visiting big cities---New York City, Washington DC, Chicago, Paris, and Copenhagen are among my favorites. I've also enjoyed visiting my brother's Liberty Hill townhouse near Over-the-Rhine and occasionally walking to a Reds' game from there. However, in the last year, I've felt the lure of downtown Cincinnati in a strange new way.
Part of the attraction stems from our new fresh produce market venture at Findlay Market---the challenge of a new business, the diversity of the clientele, the risks involved in trying something different. But a bigger part of the lure is the downtown buzz I've felt from the Twitter followers I've connected with through @daisymaesmarket. When I hear about who is eating gelato or waffles at Findlay Market, who is shopping at Gateway Quarter, who is looking for a condo at 12th and Vine, I feel a new sort of excitement. Believe it or not, I actually feel younger. I admire the entrepreneurs who dare to take a chance and get in on the ground floor as Cincinnati undergoes a renaissance. I envy the urban dwellers who have their choice of where to eat or shop within a few blocks of their homes. It makes me want to leave my mundane world of cul-de-sacs and garage door openers and head downtown to experience something creative and electric.
Yes, this middle-aged suburbanite has actually considered New Year's Eve on Fountain Square. Wouldn't it be fun to be ice skating and drinking at an ice bar as we bring in the new year in downtown Cincinnati? Wouldn't it be fun to share a drink with others who live, work, and play in the city? So much potential, so many people to meet...What's holding me (and you) back?
Let's start 2010 with a resolution to experience more in this wonderful city of Cincinnati. I'll be looking for you on Fountain Square, at Findlay Market, and in the Gateway Quarter. Cincinnati is on the move---Don't be left behind.
Here's to a Happy New Year! Come share it with me in 2010.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas, Officer K!

We absolutely love the police officers at Findlay Market. 2 or 3 of the officers have regular duty on foot patrol around the market. Others seem to come and go around the neighborhood--either on foot, bicycle, or by squad car. Some just smile and say hello as they pass. Others stop for fresh produce as they finish a shift.
Officer K made quite an impression on us the first time we met. We had a special price on boxes of bananas that caught his eye. After deliberating a couple minutes, he bought several boxes...more than any household could need. He thanked us, turned and walked across the street with the the local soup kitchen.
This week Officer K came back to buy a couple items for himself. After making his purchases, he turned and hurried away as Barry shouted, "Merry Christmas." Officer K immediately came back and shook Barry's hand...a small gesture, a simple if to say, "You've made my day better."
To Officer K and the other Cincinnati police officers, thanks for all you do...And have a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Keys to Success at Findlay Market

Maybe you heard yesterday about the announcement that the "Big Piano Gig" is coming to Cincinnati. In August, 2010, Cincinnati Public Radio will present Play Me, I'm Yours by Luke Jerram in celebration of the 50th anniversary of 90.9 WGUC, the 40th Anniversary of 91.7 WVXU and the 60th Anniversary of 88.5. Jerram will install painted pianos throughout the Cincinnati area for anyone to discover and play. 
We were in Chicago in 1999 when we stumbled upon "Cows on Parade." On every street corner, there seemed to be a colorful painted cow that presented a perfect "Kodak moment." Cincinnati responded in 2000 with our own "Big Pig Gig." You may remember how the community was overrun with pig-themed events and activities, and tourists actually came to town especially to see the painted pigs. 
2010 will be our turn to combine art and music with Play Me, I'm Yours. Long considered a hotbed of jazz, pop, and classical music, Cincinnati will have its chance to shine on the world stage  with pianos on display. Not only can visitors enjoy the artwork on the pianos, but they can also play or listen as others perform. 
Findlay Market would be a terrific location for one of the Play Me, I'm Yours pianos. I can imagine tourists and native Cincinnatians gathered around a piano right alongside our fresh produce stand. As people come and go in the bustle of the market, they'd pause for a moment to listen, exchange greetings, or maybe even play a duet with the performer. What better way to bring people of all ages and backgrounds together...Hmmmm...Pianos: Keys to Findlay Market Success. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

10% Tuesday

It's 10% Tuesday again. Today's charity is Cincinnati's own Freestore Foodbank. The Freestore Foodbank began 40 years ago and has developed into a leader in fighting hunger and its causes in our community. The Freestore "provides food and services, creates stability, and furthers self-reliance for people in crisis." The organization serves Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana, assisting approximately 200,000 people per year through 350 partner agencies. This past Thanksgiving alone the Freestore provided meals for 24,929 people!
Daisy Mae's Market will donate 10% of today's sales to the Freestore. If you can't make it to the market, you can donate online. Be generous for those in need this Christmas.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Fun with Fennel

We have had several requests for fennel lately. Fennel consists of a white or pale green bulb with stalks. The stalks have leaves near which flowers grow that produce fennel seeds. The bulb, stalk, leaves, and seeds are all edible and are commonly used in Mediterranean dishes as well as Indian and Middle Eastern dishes. The fennel bulb is a crisp, hardy root vegetable and may be sauteed, stewed, braised, grilled, or eaten raw. The seeds are used as a spice and are sometimes confused with anise as they are similar in taste and appearance. Fennel is high in Vitamin C, potassium, and dietary fiber, and it is also thought to be a good antioxidant. Saute´ fennel with onions for a delightful side dish, or pair fennel with salmon for a perfect combination.

Here's an easy way to try fennel:

Roasted Fennel Recipe


  • 2 fennel bulbs (thick base of stalk), stalks cut off, bulbs sliced
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar


1 Preheat oven to 400°F.

2 Rub just enough olive oil over the fennel to coat. Sprinkle on some balsamic vinegar, also to coat. Line baking dish with silpat or aluminum foil. Lay out piece of fennel and roast for 15-20 minutes, until the fennel is cooked through and beginning to caramelize.

Serves 4.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Findlay Market Myths

We continue to be surprised by all the misconceptions about Findlay Market. Here are the Top Myths that seem to circulate:
1. Findlay Market is hard to find or too far.
From most Greater Cincinnati suburbs, you can get to Findlay Market in 20-30 minutes. Check out the map showing easy access from I-71 and I-75.
2. Parking is a pain once you're there.
There are 3 FREE Findlay Market parking lots and over 400 parking spaces within one block. The main Findlay Market lot connects directly to the Market House via a covered walkway that opens into a unique courtyard area. The Findlay Market information office and several specialty shops surround this courtyard marked by benches, tables, and street entertainers.
3. It's dangerous. Findlay Market has two full-time uniformed "beat cops" assigned by the City of Cincinnati Police. These friendly, helpful police officers walk the market and are available to answer questions or help with any problems. In addition, other officers on bicycles or on patrol in the neighborhood are frequent sights. Findlay Market traffic attendants also help monitor the parking areas.
4. Panhandlers are everywhere. The Corporation for Findlay Market has a strict policy prohibiting panhandling at the Market. Anyone caught panhandling is reported to the authorities immediately.
5. There are a lot of "strange" people at Findlay Market. It's true that you will see people of every color, age, nationality, and socioeconomic background at Findlay Market...but isn't that a GOOD thing?

And last but not least, the biggest myth about Findlay Market is: It's only open on Saturday morning. That was probably true years ago when the market existed solely so that farmers could bring goods to sell on Saturday. If you didn't get there early, the farmers had sold everything and gone home.

Today Findlay Market is open Tuesday-Sunday year-round
. (Yes, that's every day except Monday.) It's possible to shop for fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, bread, pastries, gelato, waffles, prepared meals, tea, coffee, wine, and gifts from 9:00 am-6:00 pm on Tuesday through Friday, 8:00 am-6:00 pm on Saturday, and 10:00 am-4:00 pm on Sunday. Plan to come for lunch or a snack and plan to spend a few hours.

Help be a market myth-buster and spread the word about all the good things at Findlay Market.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's 10% Tuesday!

Today Daisy Mae's Market will be donating 10% of all sales to the Neediest Kids of All. This organization has been around since 1952. It's mission is to help local children with everyday needs and educational opportunities. NKOA supplies hats, coats, shoes, clothing, and eyeglasses to children in need within the WKRC-TV viewing area. The group also supports over 700 schools and Head Start programs by contributing for field trips and special school needs.
Stop by Daisy Mae's today to help support this worthwhile charity, or make an on-line donation today at

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Minestrone Soup, Anyone?

Today is gray and windy, and we may even see a passing snowflake. It's one of those days that demands a piping hot bowl of soup. Here's a great recipe for Minestrone, and you can pick up most of the ingredients at Findlay Market. Add a glass of wine and a loaf of bread, and you'll have a good hearty meal.

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 large stalk celery, chopped

2 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed

1 teaspoon basil

½ teaspoon each dry rosemary, oregano leaves, thyme leaves

¼ cup pearl barley

2 medium-size thin-skinned potatoes, peeled and diced

1 large carrots, diced

8 cups chicken stock or broth

1 large turnip, peeled and diced

1 can red or white kidney beans

⅔ cup small shell or elbow macaroni

¼ cup tomato paste

2 cups finely shredded kale leaves or green cabbage

Salt and pepper

1½ cups shredded jack cheese

Heat oil in 5-quart pan over medium heat. Add onion, celery, garlic, basic, rosemary, oregano, and thyme; cook about 10 minutes until onion is soft.

Add barley, potatoes, carrots, stock, and turnip. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Mix in beans and their liquid, macaroni, and tomato paste. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat, cover, and boil gently until macaroni is tender (about 15 minutes). Add kale and cook, uncovered, until kale is tender-crisp (about 5 minutes). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with cheese.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

10% Tuesdays

Today is the first of our 10% Tuesdays. Maybe I'm just in the "giving" spirit around the holidays, but I thought it would be good to designate each Tuesday in December as a day we will donate a portion of our sales to a local charitable cause. I think the presence of the red kettles outside the Kroger store reminded me that it's time to put my idea in motion.
Today, like every December 1 since 1988, is designated as World Aids Day. To call attention to the reality of HIV and AIDS, and to contribute our small portion to the fight against AIDS, Daisy Mae's will give 10% of today's sales to Cincinnati's STOP AIDS organization. This local group fights HIV/AIDS through education, services, and compassionate care one person at a time.
Maybe by our tiny bit of marketing, others will recognize a need and choose to donate, and a cure for AIDS will come closer to reality.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Recap

We're catching our breath today after a busy Thanksgiving week. It was encouraging to see so many people shopping for their fresh produce and turkeys at Findlay Market. Wednesday was the biggest day of the week---comparable to our normal Saturday, but Tuesday was really good, too. Biggest sellers for us were sweet potatoes---We sold well over a half ton!
We're regrouping tomorrow and planning for the next 3 weeks leading up to Christmas. We'll have all of your holiday needs including cranberries, brussel sprouts, parsnips, cabbage, oranges, and pears, as well as all of our normal stock like several varieties of onions and potatoes. If you don't see something you need, just ask and we'll do our best to fulfill your requests.
Don't forget we have our covered tents now so we're open rain or shine. Also we'll be adding side panels and heaters to the tents as the weather gets colder so don't let cooler temps discourage you from shopping at Findlay Market.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Great Grapes!

As we try to find our niche at Findlay Market, we've quickly determined that we have two kinds of customers. We have the neighborhood folks that buy in small quantities, shop often, and look for a good deal. We also have the "foodies" that seem to buy more items at one time, might only shop once a week or so, and look for specialty foods for a certain recipe they are preparing.
At Daisy Mae's, we're trying to fill both needs. For instance, we usually stock several kinds of grapes. The "everyday" grape we have today is small, red, and seedless and currently sells for $1.50/lb. We also have "Holiday" grapes today. These grapes are also red and seedless, but they are almost as round as a quarter and extra-delicious. They sell today for $2.50/lb. Both grapes are good and each serve their purpose depending on budget and personal preference.
Grapes, like all produce, are perishable. At Daisy Mae's, when we feel a product is not up to our quality standards, we move it to our "Bargain Bin." There, it's priced accordingly, and someone will find it fits their budget and needs. At Daisy Mae's, there's something for everyone!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Getting Ready for Thanksgiving

We've got some nice things stocked for the pre-Thanksgiving rush. Tomorrow should be an absolutely beautiful fall day so we're gearing up for big crowds at Findlay Market. We've got plenty of sweet potatoes (regular and jumbo) for those folks getting a head start on cooking. We've also got several kinds of squash including butternut squash and spaghetti squash for special seasonal dishes. We've got plenty of peppers as usual---red, yellow, green, orange...not to mention the hot peppers like the poblanos and the jalapenos. We also have some less common items like pomegranates, kiwi, fingerling potatoes, and flat-leaf parsley...and some gorgeous eggplant. Of course, we always have all the regular items like several kinds of apples, celery, onions, lemons and limes, and more.
Stop by for all your Thanksgiving produce. Don't forget we're open on Sunday, too...
Special hours for Thanksgiving week are listed below:
Monday: 9-3:30
Tuesday: 9-dark
Wednesday: 9-dark
Thursday and Friday: Closed to be with family.
Saturday: 8-dark
Sunday 10-4
Daisy Mae's is open rain or shine. Come see our new covered tents!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Little Rain Never Hurt Us

Today was our first rainy day since we opened at Findlay Market. Due to some excellent planning by Barry and Jeff, they set up our tents yesterday. We got lots of compliments about the bright colors and the cool effect. Barry thought people tended to linger longer and walk around the whole stand because the tents give you a "finished" almost-indoor feel. Traffic, in general, was down because of the rain...but I'm anxious to see how the weekend crowd takes to the new look.
No matter what, we're keeping our rainbow umbrellas...They've become our "signature."

Monday, November 16, 2009

How to Tell If a Melon is Ripe?

Everyone wants to know how to choose a honeydew melon or a cantaloupe. The best clues to ripeness are color and fragrance. A cantaloupe that is ready to eat will be a golden color. A honeydew melon will be a light yellow, cream, or even whitish in color when it is ripe. If either melon has a greenish tint, it's probably not yet ripe. Both fruits will have a distinct sweet fragrance at room temperature.
Both cantaloupe and honeydew should give a little when pressed gently with your fingers. The honeydew, in particular, should be slightly soft at the end away from where the stem was attached. It's also possible to shake a melon when testing for ripeness. If you hear the rattle of seeds, the melon is ready.
Most melons are picked several weeks before they appear at market so that the timing is right for consumers to take home and eat. If you think your melon may not be quite ripe, just leave it on the kitchen counter for a few days, but remember that once you cut the melon open, it will not ripen anymore.
For some more tips on melons, watch this video.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Portobello Mushrooms are Popular

We've had a lot of interest in Portobello mushrooms. In fact, yesterday we ran out for a short while, and Jeff had to make a run for more. Portobellos are more expensive than other kinds of mushrooms, but since you can actually make a meal out of them, they're worth it. Here's an easy recipe if Portobellos are new to you.

Grilled Portobellos with Olive Oil & Garlic

4 Portobellos, Olive Oil, Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, 4 garlic

cloves, minced chopped fresh parsley.

Preheat the broiler or start your grill.

Wipe mushrooms clean and remove stems. Drizzle all over with olive oil and

season with salt and pepper. Broil or grill about 4 inches from flame, gill side

up, 2 minutes. Turn over, sprinkle tops with garlic and a bit more oil, and

cook 1 to 2 minutes longer, being careful not to burn the garlic. Sprinkle

with parsley and serve.

Friday, November 13, 2009

What's the Difference between a Plantain and a Banana?

Yesterday Barry had a long conversation with a customer about plantains. The man had never heard of a plantain and couldn't believe it wasn't just another banana. For those of you who may not be familiar with plantains, they are nutritious and delicious like bananas but totally different.
Whereas a banana is a sweet fruit, a plantain is more starchy and is often treated as a vegetable. Native to India, plantains are very popular in Western Africa and Caribbean countries where they are often used like potatoes.
Plantains need to be cooked before eating. They are usually fried or baked, but the taste varies with ripeness. The less ripe plantains are greener in color and contain more starch. As the plantain ripens, it darkens to black and takes on a sweeter flavor.
Pick up some plantains next time you're at the market. Dare to be different and try something new.

Here's a simple recipe to get you started with plantains. "Tostones" make a great snack or side dish.

Recipe for Tostones
Serves 3-4

Need: 2 green plantains, oil for frying, and salt
1. Heat oil to 375 degrees.
2. Peel plantains and cut into 3/4" slices.
3. Fry in hot oil for 3 minutes. They should be light golden and semi-soft.
4. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
5. Maintain the oil temperature. After plantains cool (about 1 minute), smash them into flat rounds.
6. Fry the rounds in the oil for 3 minutes. They'll turn crisp and golden brown.
7. Remove plantains with slotted spoon and drain them on paper towels.
8. Salt to taste.

Taste great in garlic dip!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans' Day Salute

In honor of all veterans and active military personnel, Daisy Mae's Market is donating 11% of today's sales to the Friends of the National World War II Memorial. The World War II Memorial holds a special place in my heart as my father proudly served in the 86th Chemical Mortar Battalion.
It's great to see so much recognition for "The Greatest Generation" these days. There are fewer of these WW II veterans around to thank personally so it's wonderful that we have places like the Memorial in Washington, DC. If you haven't been there, make the effort to go. All Americans need to learn about what these brave soldiers did and to show our appreciation and respect for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Thanks, Dad.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Recipes, Anyone?

It's fun talking to customers about what they're going do to with the fruits and vegetables they purchase. Some people come to shop for a specific item; others just look at what's available and then start imagining what they might cook. One young woman told me she was going to try to make Apple Cinnamon Cookies. She had never made them before but thought they sounded good for a nice autumn day. She was looking for recommendations on which type of apple to buy and ended up with some Empire apples.
Another friend bought potatoes and leeks. She was planning to make soup, but ran short on time and ended up making a version of home-fried potatoes with leeks and bacon. Sounds yummy!
We're hoping some of our customers start sharing recipes. If you've found a good use for our produce, please reply to this blog and post a link to a recipe, or tell us about your latest cooking creations.
See you at Findlay Market!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

First Saturday

What a great Saturday at Findlay Market! The bright sun and warm temperatures brought out the shoppers. Everyone was so nice to us. We met so many people---probably won't remember all the names, but we'll remember the faces. We ran out of business cards so I expect we'll have lots of new followers on Twitter.
Speaking of Twitter...There was a "TweetUp" at the market today. It was really amazing. If you're not familiar with the concept, someone organizes a meeting place and sends out a Tweet via their Twitter account. In this case, it was to meet at high noon at Taste of Belgium at Findlay Market. Several vendors got involved and offered 10% off to anyone who mentioned the TweetUp. We offered free Stoplight Peppers, but unfortunately we were so busy we ran out of those before the tweeters arrived. We substituted with another "lovely parting gift" (as one of my new twitter friends said), and everyone went away happy.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Need More Hours in the Day

It didn't take us long to learn time flies when you're having fun. When we're setting up by 8:00 am and driving home at 6:00, there aren't too many hours left for taking care of the accounts, picking up produce, making signage, etc...not to mention laundry, meals, and normal stuff here at home. Good thing we've got a pretty good team.
We quickly found out the EBT (food stamp machine) is critical. We have applied for the machine, but it still could be a few weeks before we get approval. So many people are using food stamps these days, and if they don't see our "Sorry, EBT machine coming soon" sign, they sometimes have everything in their bags and are ready to pay before they find out we don't take the "card" yet. People are pretty understanding though and promise to come hopefully we can build the "cash only" business so that once we get the machine that will feel like icing on the cake.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

More About Opening Week

This is all pretty exciting. Barry said he met quite a few young professionals today who regularly shop at Findlay Market. He's made a point of asking people where they live...Clifton, Price Hill, Walnut Hills, the Findlay Market neighborhood...It will be interesting to see if things change on the weekend and more suburbanites make the trip downtown.
Barry and Jeff are really enjoying talking to the customers. Most of the time the conversation turns to cooking and recipes. Barry has a great idea---We're going to encourage customers to contribute to this blog by submitting their favorite recipes. I'm making some flyers to distribute with our contact information and a reminder to share some cooking tips. Could be fun!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

First Day at Findlay Market

The weather cooperated beautifully. It was a crisp, clear fall morning so set-up went smoothly. We arrived about 7:00 am for the 9:00 am opening, and since it was the first day, it took us most of that time to arrange the items and set the prices. Most of the produce was already on the carts in the trailer so all Jeff had to do was roll the carts down the ramps. We actually had about 65 items today---a few more than we had room for on the carts. But the Findlay Market folks were very welcoming and offered us the use of several rolling tables as well.
A few customers stopped by before we were actually opened including our first customer--a woman named Rosa. She was thrilled with the sweet potatoes so I thought I'd share her picture.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Who Wants Mushrooms?

Barry and Jeff have spent the day on a buying spree. We have an extensive inventory for tomorrow's opening. For starters, we hit the jackpot with mushrooms. Besides white mushrooms, we'll have maitake, beech, oyster, trumpet, and porcini mushrooms! We also have some great looking apples, grapes, greens, parsnips, peppers, potatoes, oranges, and squash. It looks like we'll have over 70 items this week. The first few weeks will be a bit of a learning experience. We really will make an effort to stock what our customers want and need...some for the everyday buyer and some for the gourmet cooks. When we get a good deal or a specialty item, we'll try to tweet about it. Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

For Immediate Release

Just wrote our first press release. I got some input from Emily since she's taking a Sports Marketing class and has had to learn how to write one correctly. I made sure to include the "who, what, when, and where" as she suggested. I also got some good tips from my friend Teresa who is a professional publicity writer. She was generous enough to give me some email contacts so I'll be submitting the press release to all kinds of targets in the next week or so. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Friday, October 30, 2009

New Findlay Market Friend--Already

Twitter is amazing. I searched Findlay Market and found tweets by several vendors. I then tweeted this: Excited to meet some of the other vendors at Findlay Market. See you Tues @worldfoodbar @tasteofbelgium @dojogelato. Almost immediately I heard back from @worldfoodbar...Josh Campbell is a gourmet food vendor at Findlay Market and is also about to open a new breakfast/lunch restaurant called Mayberry. We've exchanged several tweets and I already feel like I know Josh even though we have yet to meet in person. We've offered to help Josh with wholesale produce he might need; he's offered to help us with anything we might need as we get started at Findlay Market. And there's another weird connection---Josh is a graduate of Winton Woods High School! Small world.
Looking forward to connecting with more vendors soon...on-line and in person starting Tuesday, November 3!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Daisy Mae's Opening at Findlay Market!

Yes, it's true! We'll be opening our fresh produce market at historic Findlay Market in downtown Cincinnati starting November 3. We'll be open Tuesday through Sunday. We're thrilled about the potential and look forward to meeting old friends and new at this location. Check back soon for more details.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Findlay Market Meeting

Yesterday Barry and Jeff met with the management at Findlay Market. The Market has been trying to find another produce vendor for several weeks. After going full circle with several suburban locations---and telling people we wanted to be a "Findlay Market North," we've decided maybe the REAL Findlay Market is where we need to be. The reputation and customer base are already established, and the best part is that THEY want US.
Barry spent a big part of the day after the meeting investigating the food stamp program. Food stamps are a huge part of business at Findlay Market. You need the actual machine to process the food stamps, and the machine requires telephone service. However, Findlay Market has wireless internet a wireless food stamp machine is also a possibility.
Jeff checked out heaters and tents yesterday as well. There are some logistics issues as far as loading and unloading, and we'll need to have electric service for lighting. Lots to think about...
And today I'll be checking on insurance. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Parish Produce Program

We are expanding our mobile produce service. We have designed a program where non-profit groups, initially churches, can set up and operate their own produce markets. Here's how it works: The church pre-orders fruits and vegetables by the case. We deliver the order at a pre-arranged time. The church decides pricing and hours of operation, and arranges for volunteers to man the market.
Since we have fresh fruits and vegetables available year-round, the market can be open at whatever times work best for the particular organization. Most churches arrange delivery so that produce can be sold to parishioners following the weekly service. Youth groups, choirs, or other subgroups within the church share responsibility for set-up, sales, and take-down. Some items are seasonal so availability and pricing are posted weekly on our website at
Each church has the option to expand its produce market to the local neighborhood as part of a community outreach program. Churches also have the option of donating any leftovers to a local food pantry.
The best part is the profit potential. For example, if a group purchases a 25 lb. case of tomatoes from Daisy Mae's Market for $15, they may then sell the tomatoes for $1/lb. and realize a profit of $10 per case. Most items have a profit potential of 40-50% so if 200 parishioners spend $7 each per week at the market, there is a potential to earn about $700 per week for your organization's fundraising needs.
Everyone loves fresh produce, and we've found parishioners love the idea of shopping "on location" after church. The secret is to be consistent. Once your customers realize you offer FRESH produce on a regular basis, your profits will grow.
It's a win-win-win situation for everyone. Healthy foods, fundraising, outreach all in one!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tweet for Veggies!

Hidden Valley has come up with a great marketing idea. In an effort to promote vegetables to kids, Hidden Valley is offering a $10,000 grant. The new twist is that it's a Twitter contest. Anyone can tweet about the grant and by including @HVRanch #lyvgrants in the post, you are entered. The contest runs for the next couple weeks so sign in to Twitter, and re-tweet my post:

Please RT! Winton Woods Primary North kids like veggies. They'd LOVE them if they got the $10,000 Hidden Valley grant. @HVRanch #lyvgrants


Thursday, September 17, 2009

One Step Forward, and then...

On Tuesday, Barry went to a zoning meeting. He spent over an hour convincing the 6 member board to issue a variance for our permanent produce market location. The main obstacle was the "open-air" feature. The board was concerned that any change in the zoning would be in place forever---thus, opening the door to all kinds of velvet Elvis sales, etc. should we decide to leave. When the vote was taken, 4 voted for us and 2 against. We were ecstatic.
Two days later, the head of the building department (who was at the zoning meeting and voted FOR our market) called to tell Barry that they had made a "procedural mistake." Even though we were told to go through Zoning, he said we should have presented our proposal to the Planning Commission first. He apologized and was obviously embarrassed to have been selected to be the messenger, but there wasn't much he could do.
Unfortunately, the Planning Commission doesn't meet for another month...pushing things back again...
In the meantime, we've established a couple more contacts with vendors so hopefully that will keep our foot in the produce door for a while longer.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Expanding Mobile Produce Service

We're still here. We have applied for the zoning permit for the permanent location, been rejected, and now have re-applied. Of course, the Zoning Committee only meets once a month so we have to wait until the mid-September meeting to hear anything.
In the meantime, we've been trying to expand our mobile services. Barry and Jeff are still delivering twice a week to the vendors at Findlay Market. The next phase is to start selling to independent restaurants in the Cincinnati area. We have a few leads and will be targeting the sandwich/deli shops and the Mexican restaurants. After all, tomatoes and peppers are our specialties!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Patience is a Virtue

Still working on zoning and new location. All good things come to those who wait.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

We're Official!

We received our State of Ohio Certificate back in the mail today as an official record of the trade name Daisy Mae's Market. We were waiting on that because Barry needs the document number and proof that we're "for real" in order to apply for zoning permits. I'm not sure what real purpose the document serves other than that---and the fact that it costs $50 so I guess it's a contribution to the state coffers.
Jeff has made a connection with a produce guy in Louisville. For the last two weeks, he has been buying several hundred cases of tomatoes from our wholesale supplier. Jeff gets a nice commission, some watermelons, and has established another network that may lead to something else.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Bit of a Roadblock

We've discovered that zoning regulations in several of the local municipalities don't allow "open-air markets." I'm sure they are trying to keep the folks who sell the velvet Elvis (and Michael Jackson) paintings from invading their communities. Nevertheless, we need to convince them that our concept is more than just your basic roadside stand. To that end, I'm in the process of creating a presentation to use as part of our sales pitch. I'm using Google Docs. If you haven't tried it, you should. I can put together the presentation and then invite collaborators (Barry) to view and edit it. We can work back and forth on it from our own computers. I can imagine it would be great for group projects in both an office or school setting.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Easing Back into Things

We've been away for a few days...spent 2 days in Washington, DC visiting Matt and finding out more about his summer internship at the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Then we went to Charlottesville for a couple days to unwind from the hectic DC pace. We stopped by the local Saturday morning Farmer's Market in Charlottesville and spent time comparing prices and admiring the produce. The potatoes especially looked great---so clean with hardly a blemish. Some of the berries looked wonderful, too...but so expensive compared to what's available at Cincinnati grocery stores.
Meanwhile, back on the home front, we're continuing to move forward on our new "permanent" location. We should have something to announce in the next week or so. We're aiming to be ready to roll when the local sweet corn is available.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hot Fun in the Summertime

It was a scorcher this weekend in and humid. The morning crowds were good at Traders World, but by mid-afternoon, folks had found something better to do. Saturday was especially brutal for us because it was so windy that we couldn't put the umbrellas up. It was a constant battle to rotate the fruits and vegetable and keep misting them to avoid losing things to the sun.
We've been tracking customers for the last few weeks. There are some definite patterns developing as far as heaviest traffic times and customer spending habits. Of course, these things will change as we change locations, but Barry is doing a good job of recording the data. In order to be successful in the produce business, you must learn to reduce shrinkage. The only way to do that is to keep good records of what's coming and going.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Poppers for Pop on Father's Day

Don't forget your dad on this Father's Day weekend. I've got my card in the mail, and I'm looking forward to my Sunday phone call to my dad in Florida. The older I get, the more I appreciate all he has done and continues to do for me. In fact, just this week he offered me a couple marketing ideas. With age comes wisdom, and I've found that "Father Knows Best" still applies.

We'll have jalapeno peppers this weekend at Traders World. Here's a recipe from Best Ever Jalapeno Poppers. Wouldn't it be great to fix a batch of these poppers for a special treat for Dad on Father's Day? We will also have Father's Day fruit baskets and lots of onions and green peppers for Dad's grill.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I used to be Plastic but now I'm Elastic

I'm a planner. Operating a fresh produce market takes planning...but it also takes an ability to adjust as things happen. I'm the type of person who has things on my calendar that are 6 months down the road. I also have lists and post-it notes everywhere. Since we've started the produce business, I'm slowly learning to be more flexible and not "micro-manage" everything.
We've been opening the produce market on Saturday and Sunday from 9-5 at Traders World Flea Market in Lebanon, Ohio. Jeff does the buying, and he buys what is available at a price we can afford on Thursday and Friday each week. That means that we don't actually know what our inventory will be until Friday night when Jeff loads our vendor carts (the rolling Lazy Daisy Handcarts that were custom-made at Kin Products). Also on Friday, we're comparing local prices at grocery stores, in newspaper ads, and on-line to determine just how we need to set our prices for the weekend. In fact, most of the pricing won't be set until we actually arrive at the stand on Saturday morning. Barry and Jeff call back and forth on their cell phones, and I scurry around writing the prices on the signs. It's all a little too hectic for me, but I'm starting to adjust.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


My friend Simon from Kin Products suggested I change the template and color scheme for the blog. I think he's right. I'm still experimenting with a few things, but my goal is to make it "pleasing to the eye". Let me know what you think about the changes.
Barry and Jeff started insulating the trailer today. Of course, it took longer than they expected, and they ran into a few "snags, " but it should be done tomorrow. As the temperatures heat up, we'll be glad it's done.
We needed 15 cases of tomatoes for our favorite vendor at Findlay Market tomorrow, but Jeff can't get any at all tonight. The Florida rain is still playing havoc with supply and demand. Maybe by tomorrow morning, they'll have something...Timing is everything. It's hard for me to understand how a case of something can cost 4 times more than it cost a month ago...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Severe Weather Drill

Yesterday we got our first taste of nasty weather at the market. Things were going along smoothly until mid-afternoon when the clouds started to move in. We could see it coming, and some of the vendors started scurrying to put their stuff away. We put a few things in the trailer and then started to consolidate the things on the carts. That way we could close gradually rather than all at once. Quite a few people stopped to buy some of our produce as they headed to their cars, too. Once the rain really started, Barry rolled the carts into the trailer in just a few minutes and everything was out of the weather.
Earlier in the day, one vendor showed serious interest in buying one of our "Lazy Daisy Handcarts." He sells sunglasses, and if he had to hustle to put everything away in the storm, he'll probably be calling about our clever cart that he can roll fully-loaded into his vehicle.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Traffic was slow at the flea market yesterday. The seasoned vendors have told us this is the worst year they've ever had there due to the recession and construction near the entrance. We tried to keep a tally today and counted 156 purchasing customers at our stand. The best customers were our good friends Ross and Gene who drove over from Milford.
Emily and her friend Jennie came to work the late afternoon shift. It didn't take them long to get into the routine, and it was a welcome relief for me to head home a little early.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Recipe of the Day

Each weekend we'll feature a special recipe. Tomorrow's it's Fried Zucchini so we'll have take-home copies available. We did bruschetta last weekend, and we found it was a great way to strike up a conversation about cooking and various ways to prepare the produce.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Gearing Up for Weekend #2

They got the air conditioner installed in the trailer yesterday. If it works like it's supposed to work, we'll be able to plug it in and keep everything nice and cool. Barry and Jeff are going to insulate the trailer to help, too. All of that will add to shelf life and minimize trips to pick up new inventory.
We've lined up Emily and her friend Jennie to work a few hours this weekend. I need to pick up shirts for them today---and money aprons. We're still using "generic" lime green shirts, but we're about ready to order the "real" shirts with our imprinted logo.
I can't believe how many "Farmer's Markets" are around this summer. It seems like we used to have 3 or 4 in the Cincinnati area, but this year there must be at least 20...Most have websites and the Enquirer has an interactive map to show the locations. I think it's a combination of the economy and the green movement. Either way, if it keeps fruits and vegetables on people's mind, it's good for all of us.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Blast Off!

What a weekend! We opened on Saturday and Sunday at the local flea market. We didn't make a whole lot of money, but the experience was priceless. Lots of people commented about the custom vendor carts and umbrellas. It took about 15 minutes to set up and take down, and anyone who was watching that was pretty impressed. While Barry and Jeff rolled the already-stocked carts out of the trailer, our competitors carried box after box back and forth to their makeshift tables to arrange their stand. The time and energy savings are incredible.
We stocked about 30 items. Mangos were probably the most popular thing all weekend. Carrots were definitely the least popular. Jeff did a great job of selecting the inventory for the first attempt. There really wasn't too much waste.
I'm anxious to try again---at another location, but Barry is determined to get everything right before we try to move too quickly.

Friday, June 5, 2009

3, 2, 1...

Yesterday was a big day for testing the carts with the trailer. Everything fit beautifully, and the ramps worked pretty well. We set everything up in the Kin Products parking lot, and put about 250 pounds of produce on one cart. It was easy for two people to push the cart up and down the ramp into the trailer. It will take a little more tweaking before one person can do it smoothly. The umbrellas are going to work, too, with a few adjustments.
Today we have to get dry ice, cash for the cashbox, and stop by the local grocery stores to do comparison pricing before making our price tags.
Tomorrow the fun begins!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Preparing for Launch

The trailer is ready to go. Jeff has come up with a list of 30 produce items to try. We still have to work out the way to display the pricing, and we still have to find a scale. Barry and Jeff went to the local restaurant supply outlet yesterday and found out they have everything except a scale. They have plastic baskets, paper products, all kinds of herbs and spices, and anything else you would possibly need to operate a restaurant (or in this case a produce market).
I worked on the logo a little more with Simon at Kin Products yesterday. He's a whiz with Photoshop and Illustrator so what he can do in an hour would take me all day.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Quantum leap

A lot happened in the last 24 hours. They built 6 handcarts at Kin Products! Barry went over to see them this morning and couldn't believe how wonderful they were...1st class all the way and exactly to the specs to fit the trailer. 
Barry and I went to Traders' World today for a preview. We only saw one produce vendor. We spent lots of time watching the steady traffic to his tables. We made notes of prices and products, and talked to several other vendors to get the feel for the procedures. On the way home, we stopped at Sam's and bought 4 table umbrellas and some safety floor mats. When we got home, Jeff came by with the money from the Findlay vendors, and we spent another hour "gushing" about the handcarts, the umbrellas, and the possibilities for the future. If Jack is able to get the trailer rigged up, Barry and Jeff are going to try to open up at the flea market in a week or two. 

Friday, May 29, 2009

Moving Forward

Jeff got the trailer and dropped it off at Kin Products. Barry and Henry completed final measurements and engineering designs for the handcarts. They've decided to build 6 handcarts initially that can be rolled in and out of the trailer. Chris Kin suggested they custom design the ramps because of the long incline that will be required to roll the carts into the trailer.
Barry spent a big part of the day reading State of Ohio government regulations to confirm what's needed to formalize the business. He's also ready to open the checking account and set up insurance. Good news was that no workers' comp is needed for Barry or Jeff.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Shopping List

Jeff bought the trailer and is making arrangements to pick it up. We got together last night and came up with a list of stuff we need to buy right now in order to get started...t-shirts, cashbox, scale, plastic and paper bags, sticks for price tags, markers, counterfeit-checking pens (amazingly cheap), and hand sanitizer. The plan is to open for a few weekends at the local flea market as a trial run. That way we can get the set-up process down and fine-tune the pricing. Barry and I are going to check out the flea market this weekend to scope out location and to see the produce competition. We want to see how many items they offer and how things are priced.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Barry got the estimate back from Henry on the cost to make the carts. It's "doable" so now we need to figure out how many carts we need. Jeff has his eye on a trailer. Once that's firm, they can decide just how many carts will fit in the trailer and get started on making them. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

It's Official!

Bought the domain name today. I'll start working on the website immediately and will plan to tie this blog into it. I need to get the book "Groundswell"...It must be a great social media reference book. The secret seems to be to tie everything together...print media, blog, website, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. I'm pretty excited about Twitter possibilities. With produce, everything has to be fresh so Twitter offers the chance for quick, daily updates about what products we have that have just arrived that day...Also would be easy to offer discounts and freebies based on supply and demand.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Rain, rain go away

Orders down today for Findlay Market...all day rain on a Saturday doesn't do much for business. When you stop and think about it, the produce business is totally weather-dependent. I guess in that respect, it's a lot like the homebuilding business.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Big Order Today

Two loads going to Findlay Market this morning. The vendors who went for the lower price last week decided to come back to us this week. Quality and delivery make the difference. Everything I read continues to reinforce that idea: The things that separate successful businesses from the rest of the pack are quality, service, and value.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Setting Up

Barry has spent the last few days working on the design of the produce stand we will call "Daisy Mae's Market." It has to be easy to transport and easy to set up...something one man can do alone. He's played with the idea of a rolling cart and has a couple ideas on the drawing board. He met with our engineering friend Henry at Kin Products today to go over a few design issues.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Field Trip

I made a visit to Findlay Market today. With the nice weather and Mother's Day tomorrow, I wasn't the only one who decided to go. Cars and people everywhere...Lots of folks were buying annuals and potted plants, but the vegetable stands were really busy as well. I was checking out things like signage and price tags, displays, arrangement of items, banners, etc. Took a few pictures so I'd have something to jog my memory later. Found out they sell the reusable grocery bags for $4.99 each. Quite a few folks did bring along their own bags---the "green" movement is alive and well. Lots of people were having sandwiches at the tables along the sidewalk. An outside grill had $1 hot dogs and drinks among other things. Several musicians played throughout the market and that gave it a real festive feel. The beer garden was open and most of those tables were taken, too. 

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Market and the Meeting

We didn't have many orders for this morning at Findlay Market. It seems a glut of tomatoes had come on the market. Someone beat our price by a couple dollars per case. Jeff did the delivery of those orders we did have and spent a lot of time talking to the vendors to try to get the scoop. 
Meanwhile this afternoon, Barry had his first meeting with the Economic Development Director in the community we're targeting for our own market. He felt like it went really well, and the guy is taking our ideas to City Council and the City Manager. We should hear back sometime next week. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Findlay Market is booming!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Vendor's License

We found out we would get a vendor's license from the Hamilton County Auditor's office...$25. If we decide we need a transient vendor's license that comes directly from the Ohio Department of Taxation...$25 as well. I suppose this gets us into "the system" as a legitimate business. 

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Yes, We Have No Bananas

Another early morning---5:00 am and off to Findlay Market again. Barry found out he had picked up the wrong kind of bananas for one of the vendors. This added some time to his trip because he had to return them to Jeff. Who would have thought there were so many different kinds of bananas? 

Friday, May 1, 2009

It Pays to Get an Early Start

Barry and Jeff were at Findlay Market this morning before the sun rose. They delivered 130 cases of assorted vegetables to their regular vendors. They think the vendors are starting to gain confidence in their reliability and in the quality of the products. In fact, they've got more orders for Saturday and Sunday. This whole delivery-wholesale aspect is a gigantic research project...What sells? What are the different names and grades of the products? How should the items be displayed? What do you need to transport the products and have them arrive in perfect shape? In addition, it's a chance to build relationships with the Findlay Market vendors who have a wealth of experience to share.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Who's Daisy Mae?

Daisy Mae was the grandmother of Barry and Jeff. She was married to Luther and lived in the hills of Kentucky. We chose the name "Daisy Mae's Market" to honor her legacy. 

Planting the Seed

Somewhere during the last year, the seed was planted. The first thought of a new endeavor poked its little head through the soil. The homebuilding business was in the tank; we needed something different...We needed the same kind of change that you feel when the first signs of spring begin to appear...the tiny buds, the freshly-cut grass, the first daffodils to bloom. 
Exploration, contemplation, commensuration, and determination eventually led to our focus. A chance discussion with his brother Jeff convinced Barry to investigate the world of fresh produce. 
Trips to Findlay Market, conversations with vendors, hours of reading, and informal market research have brought us to where we are today: the birth of Daisy Mae's Market.