Thursday, April 29, 2010

Grab Your Partner, Do-Si-Do

Anyone who works in marketing knows a thing or two about partnering. Successful corporations use it very effectively as a way to get more bang for their advertising buck by linking up with another well-established company. I've seen a perfect example lately with Scott's Great American Ball Park grass seed. Scott's and Great American (and the Reds) have teamed up to sell "actual varieties of seed that are used at Great American Ball Park." It's a win/win for all parties involved.
I realized today that we've been "partnering" on a smaller, local level without even realizing it. It started gradually when we first arrived at Findlay Market last year. Kroeger & Sons came to buy onions and peppers for their sausages. Next Dojo Gelato needed bananas for Bananas Foster gelato. Then Taste of Belgium bought mushrooms for crepes, and Areti's came for onions and tomatoes. These fine Findlay Market merchants often "tweeted" that their recipes contained our fresh produce. Not too long after that, Cafe de Wheels, the mobile burger company, began to be a regular customer. At one of the early special events for Cafe de Wheels, they were so kind as to advertise that the burgers featured veggies from Daisy Mae's Market. We were no longer dancing alone...we had partners!
Earlier this year we connected with Crock of Love. Nikki is a loyal customer who returns each week to buy ingredients for her personal chef/crockpot service. In addition, Crock of Love has recently set up shop at Neon's serving Happy Hour food including Daisy Mae's produce. What a great way to spread the Daisy Mae's brand and the Findlay Market theme!
The excitement continued to grow today as I was doing some planning with Cooking with Caitlin. This trio of fun-loving gals seems to be cooking everywhere these days and telling the world about it...They're on Twitter, Facebook, writing blogs, sending newsletters, on the radio, and coming soon again in June, they'll be on Fountain Square for Market on the Square. When Kelly said, "We're excited to have partnered with you," I realized that's exactly what we've been doing..partnering. We're building a community of businesses that work together because the joint return is better together rather than separately.
Best business lesson learned so far: Grab a partner and do-si-do!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

YOUR Produce Guy

A friend of mine observed not long ago that it seems people have shorter tempers these days. She attributed that to the fact that we so often have to "Push 1" for Account Balance, "Push 2" for Questions about your Checking Account, "Push 3" for Questions about your Savings Account, and often have to wait on hold for several minutes before being redirected...often to the wrong person in the end. She reminisced about the days when she had "her banker." He was a real person with a name and a face that she saw regularly. If she had a financial question, she called "her banker." If she had a complaint, she reported it to "her banker." My friend recounted a recent issue at the bank where she was passed from one person to another to a voice mail until she was totally frustrated and at her wit's end. "If only I could have talked to 'my banker,'" she said.
I'm starting to think my friend is right. I know others who talk about "my plumber," "my yard guy," "my florist." They look to these specialists as authorities in their fields. They call them with problems, ask them for advice, and recommend them to others. My friends exhibit a weird sort of if these people are known only to them...and that you must get a referral before talking to "their guy." When they can't get "their guy," they become edgy and uncomfortable...How can a stranger really help me? How can someone who doesn't understand me know what I really want?
If you often feel lost in our fast-paced world of answering systems, passwords, and customer service representatives, I'd like to direct you to Findlay Market. This Cincinnati landmark still exists as a place where you can talk to "your butcher," "your baker," and (yes) even "your candlemaker." The merchants at Findlay Market are real people with real names...and after a while, they will come to learn YOUR name. If you need advice, have questions, want to complain, or just want to chat, come to Findlay Market. You'll find real people just waiting to meet you. (And by the way, "my produce guy" is under the silver tent at the Race Street entrance...tell him I sent you.)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

So Who's Daisy Mae?

Daisy Mae's Market is named after the grandmother of Barry and Jeff Cooper. When the brothers decided to start their own fresh produce business, it seemed logical to name the market in honor of this special woman.
Born in the hills of Kentucky in 1903, Daisy Mae grew up poor but probably never knew it. Even though she went to school through the 8th grade, most of her true education probably came through the experiences she gained on the farm and in home. She was one of 6 you can imagine that the home was a busy place with many of the activities focused on cooking and farming. Over time, she refined her cooking skills and came to be known as the woman who could take whatever was available and make it into a meal. She could cook squirrel or rabbit, or make a "Bob-White" syrup from butter and molasses--perfect for dipping homemade bread. Home was a farm so whatever the family could grow became a part of the meal. If berries were available, Daisy Mae made cobbler. If vegetables were ready, she made soup.
At just the right moment in her life entered Luther Cooper. He grew up in a similar rural setting. As a boy, he often took an all-day trip with a wagon full of apples to Somerset, Kentucky to sell the apples to buy sugar, flour, and other household necessities. After Daisy Mae and Luther married, they put their talents and work ethic together and moved to the Cincinnati area to raise a family of their own. Luther worked off and on as an itinerant farmer, but he also found employment in a cardboard box factory. Daisy Mae carried on the family traditions of cooking and quilting while providing a solid foundation for her children and grandchildren.
Working hard, providing fresh produce, sharing the secrets of good food...Grandsons Barry and Jeff do it every day at Findlay Market. Wouldn't Daisy Mae and Luther be proud?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Taste of Cincinnati (Everyday)

Cincinnatians love a party. It was evident on Monday when an estimated 100,000 people turned out for the Opening Day Parade to celebrate spring and the start of the Reds baseball season. Smiles and high-fives told me people were glad to be out of the house and surrounded by others enjoying the sights and sounds.
We do this a lot in Cincinnati. Fountain Square has become the focus of all kinds of community activities. From ice skating in winter to the PNC Music Series in the summer, there's always something happening near the Fountain. Thanks to policies that permit sale of food and beer, Fountain Square seems to be a perpetual party.
We also love our festivals in Cincinnati. The Macy's Music Festival, Great Inland Seafood Festival, Riverfest, and Oktoberfest are all favorites. At the top of many lists, however, is the Taste of Cincinnati. This eating extravaganza takes over downtown Cincinnati during Memorial Day weekend when sampling food and walking from vendor to vendor are the things to do.
Last Saturday when Daisy Mae's was booming with visitors buying fresh produce, it occurred to me that Findlay Market is really an everyday Taste of Cincinnati. People stroll from one stand to the next, sampling food as they explore all the tastes of the market. They discuss different flavors, try foods they've never seen, share servings that are too generous for one, and reinforce the idea that food is fun. And (gasp)they even talk to people they don't know about foods they are eating! It becomes a party atmosphere that definitely resembles the Taste of Cincinnati.
So my question is: Why wait until May for a Taste of Cincinnati? Come to Findlay Market any Tuesday through Sunday year-round to enjoy the feeling of a festival. You can eat your way from Race Street to Elm Street any time of the year.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Opening Day and the Findlay Market Parade

We are really excited about the Findlay Market Opening Day Parade. This year's parade is the 91st Opening Day Parade and is hosted by the Findlay Market Association. What began as a few neighborhood and merchant groups walking to the ballpark has developed into a major undertaking for the Association. Anyone who is a Cincinnati Reds fan or who lives in Cincinnati knows that the parade is the start of a wonderful unofficial holiday signifying the start of another baseball season. This year we're thrilled because the Friends of Findlay Market have asked the Veggie Gals from Daisy Mae's Market to join their group in the parade. We'll don our Carmen Miranda style hats and market aprons and join the fun on the way to the stadium. (If you're counting, we'll actually be "Unit #36" of the 178 units in the parade.)
As participants in the parade, we'll be representing all the wonderful merchants who have called Findlay Market their workplace for the last one hundred years. It's a privilege to carry on this small part of history and to spread the word about what a special place Findlay Market is. Come out to the parade and if you're lucky enough to have a ticket, head to Great American Ball Park...and when the excitement dies down after Monday, come to Findlay Market for food, fun, and to enjoy another Cincinnati tradition.
Go Reds!