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The Associated Press has a story about how "farmers markets gave people something they desperately sought during the pandemic: A place to shop outdoors, and at the same time support smaller, often local businesses.

"The markets are now building on that goodwill as the customers that became regulars and the vendors who set up shop in 2021 and 2022 return for the new season. Back in 2020, the markets were deemed non-essential and had been forced to close. Small vendors ranging from farm stands to dog treat makers say the markets offer them access to customers and a connection to the community."

There now are some 7,000 farmers markets in the US, up from about 2,000 three decades ago.

According to the story, "Some shoppers shy away from farmers market vendors because prices are typically higher than those at grocery stores due to the labor and small scale involved, even though most farmers markets accept food assistance vouchers. But the inflation of the past two years has brought about a shift.

"Prices for some typically cheap staple items in grocery stores rose sharply due to high inflation and various issues. For instance, egg prices rose partly due to avian flu and toward the end of last year the cost of a dozen had doubled from 12 months earlier. Bread and flour prices rose partly because of the Ukraine crisis."

KC's View:

I wonder how many traditional retailers with produce departments spend time in farmers markets, looking around and figuring out what makes them attractive to shoppers.   Especially at a time when inflation has sort of evened out the price differentials, it kind of makes sense to find ways to mimic the farmers market experience in a traditional retail environment, especially when it comes to giving shoppers a chance to meet the farmer or try new items.

So much of this should not only be the province of farmers markets.  But too many grocery stores are not taking advantage of the moment.