Locally Grown Market
Dowtown ILM Market promotes shopping local
Those who want to support local makers have found creative ways to “keep the doors open,” so to say, during the ups and downs of the past year and a half. This includes BETHANY CARPENTER, who saw a need for support of the local community and created the Downtown ILM Market.
“I started this market because I love Wilmington, and this is a wonderful way to support the community and the local economy,” Carpenter says. “I wanted to have a market that was affordable for those looking to get involved. The goal is to provide a space for producers and artisans to sell directly to consumers – without high weekly and annual fees.”
The market is an opportunity for producers to educate on the importance of locally grown or made produce and an opportunity for artisans to share their unique craft, she adds.
This was not a random act for Carpenter, who is also the founder of Kairos Digital Marketing, as she had a history with local vendors.
“My love for markets came from years of working them for another local, small business and in doing that work, I became close with many local producers and artisans,” Carpenter says. “Around March of 2020, I really started looking for private property to host a market. I was able to set up a meeting with Temple Baptist Church in early summer, which was too far into the typical market season to start one. So instead, we decided to have a holiday market as a tester.”
That market took place on the four Saturdays prior to Christmas and she says it went “phenomenally.” All vendor spaces were filled every Saturday and the market had an extensive waiting list. This was followed up with the new regular season market.
The Downtown ILM Market has it all, including, “…fresh local flowers, kombucha on draft, locally grown salad mixes and microgreens, baked goods, freshly squeezed lemonade, dry soup mixes, and bread,” Carpenter says.
Each week’s market is made up of different artisans and it hosts occasional special markets for occasions such as holidays. Its most recent special market was the Mother’s Day Market which featured crafters with many gift options for moms.
“These special markets are great opportunities to remind people to shop local when gift buying, if possible. They serve as a reminder to not run directly to the big box stores when you’re gift buying; give local a shot first,” Carpenter says.
The impact of supporting local is immediate and truly life-changing, she says. The importance cannot be overstated as it can be the difference between putting food on the table or going without.
“These markets put money into the pockets of members of our community, who are then likely to reinvest that money locally,” Carpenter says.
Supporting local businesses creates local jobs, she says. So far, Carpenter has hired two team members to help host the market. Another added benefit of shopping local is the environmental factor.
“There is also the wonderful benefit of shopping local being more environmentally friendly, as product transportation is at a minimum (since) produce is not coming from afar, but rather a local creator,” Carpenter says. “You’re also enhancing diversity when it comes to which products are available within your community.”
The benefits extend beyond the artisans, as well. “Ten percent of each month’s vendor fees are donated to the Temple Baptist Church Helping Hands Ministry which strives to distribute food to those in need within our community,” Carpenter says. “An additional ten percent is donated to a different nonprofit each month.”
In April, the market donated to Feast Down East and in May, to the Plastic Ocean Project.
“My goal is to grow in a way that allows us to continually give back and connect the community with local producers and artisans,” Carpenter says. “I’m excited to see how that growth manifests itself.”
The Downtown ILM Market is held every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Temple Baptist Church located at 1801 Market Street in Wilmington.
To view more of photographer Aris Harding’s work, go to arisharding.com.
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