Saturday, April 03, 2010

Livengood's Leaves RTM
But Farmers' Market to Start in May

After 17 years, Earl Livengood is leaving the Reading Terminal Market. But come May the market will add a farmers' market on Sundays with up to 14 growers and value-added producers.

In recent years the Lancaster farmer hauled his produce to the market, leaving his wife Joyce to staff the stall with a helper while he trekked to the Bryn Mawr farmers' market. This year, prompted by declining sales at the RTM, he decided to avoid the mileage by continuing at Bryn Mawr on Saturdays while adding a new market at the Upper Merion Township Building in King of Prussia.

The market's fees may not have been the major reason for Earl's departure; his rents ranged from $25 to $75/day, with the higher fee levied at the peak of the local produce season. A bigger influence my have been the competition due to the availability of local produce at the Fair Food Farmstand, Kauffman's Lancaster County Produce, O.K. Lee and Iovine Brothers

Livengood will continue to sell his produce (and son Dwain's beef) Tuesedays at South and Passyunk and Thursdays at Fairmount.

Paul Steinke, RTM general manager, learned of Livengood's decision Thursday. At the spot in center court where Livengood has sold since 1993 Steinke installed a table and a commemorative book, which shoppers could sign wishing the Livengood's good fortune in their non-RTM endeavors. No doubt Steinke wants to keep in Livengood's favor, should Earl find the other Saturday venues not as profitable and wish to return. Steinke would welcome him back with open arms.

The farmers market will begin either the second or third week of May across 12th street, next to the outdoor Parkway parking lot between Arch and Cuthbert streets. There's space for 14 vendors (no sandwich vendors). Farm To City, which will manage the market for the RTM, has lined up nearly half a dozen sellers so far, and hopes to fill it out by opening. Hours will 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays, with possible expansion to another day if demand warrants.

Jim Iovine, who owns Iovine Brothers with sibling Vinnie, told me he welcomes the competition. If it draws additional shoppers to the RTM, Iovine figures he'll get more business from buyers who can't meet all their needs at the outdoor venue. Iovine said Sunday remains one of his busiest days, third behind Saturday and Friday.

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