Sohocki: My Short Life As a Pearl Farmers Market Vendor

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Restaurant Gwendolyn's table at the Pearl Farmers Market offered all manner of products, but none seemed to take off. Photo by Michael Sohocki.

Restaurant Gwendolyn's table at the Pearl Farmers Market offered all manner of products, but none seemed to take off. Photo by Michael Sohocki.

Last Saturday was my last hurrah as a vendor at the Pearl Farmer's Market. The coupe de grace to my well-intentioned, but star-crossed experience as a chef and restaurant owner plying my wares at the street level came after the market closed for the day. Ever wonder what the farmers and other vendors do with unsold produce and products?

I loaded the wagon with my wares at closing time: the pasta machine, folding tables, brochures, three-compartment sanitation setup, hand washing station, various soaps and menus, and framed photographs of me with Andrew Zimmern, me holding my chicken, the tent and ice chest and flour and eggs. I lifted the wagon into the truck, and tied it down. On the way back to the restaurant, something happened – as rope slipped its knot. The yellow wagon rolled backwards out of the truck bed, and splashed its contents across four lanes of Broadway.

Cars going both directions were hit with local, organic products crafted by my own hands. My hand-built pasta machine skittered one way, the wagon bounced off a minivan and flew in another direction. My water catchment buckets got stuck under a lady's Forerunner and were dragged three blocks before she pulled over and kicked them out from under her car. Sentimental frames and glass crushed beneath black rubber tires.

A framed photograph of Chef Michael Sohocki was damaged during Restaurant Gwendolyn's last day at the farmers market. Photo courtesy of Michael Sohocki.

A framed photograph of Chef Michael Sohocki and previous sous chef was damaged during Restaurant Gwendolyn's last day at the farmers market. Photo courtesy of Michael Sohocki.

I trudged up and down Broadway, picking up the broken pieces of my life as a vendor, everything returned to the truck bed, this time in a junk pile. I got back into the truck, but didn't go anywhere. I just sat there, realizing I had been defeated. I searched for a moral. Where had I taken my first false step?

Working a booth at a farmers market is a lot like your father making you do a lemonade stand to gain a first taste of business. It is beautiful in its brevity: all the risks, investments, food costs, employment problems, marketing challenges, they all exist in microcosm … a perfect one-fortieth replica.

Applying Lemonade Stand Theory, all the moving pieces are small and obvious. If you sit on your product and don't sell any, then you've overbought – or you've undermarketed. Or both. If lots of people wave and smile, but nobody gets out of the car, it may take a gentle nudge from your aunt to realize that you have planted your lemonade stand on the shoulder of a busy highway where no one is going to pull over. Location, location, location.

Figure this one out, kid, and you've polished off a sound business model. Simple enough, right?

Wrong.

In retrospect I have flunked the little study in a big way. Like that classic Disney cartoon where the gates fly open and the horses and their riders come tearing out in a cloud of smoke…and one last straggler backs out of his stall in reverse, already alone and confused, I think I already had terminal malfunction even at the concept of my lemonade.

See, when you're a farmer, the "lemonade" is the easy part: you plant tomatoes, and – by golly – you sell tomatoes. Beautiful. Brilliant. Slam dunk.

Former Restaurant Gwendolyn Sous Chef Dave Rizo mans the tent during the Pearl Farmers Market. Photo by Kyle Destefano.

Former Restaurant Gwendolyn Sous Chef Dave Rizo mans the tent during a previous Pearl Farmers Market. Photo by Kyle Destefano.

But I didn't have any tomatoes, and I wasn't a farmer. Instead, I (a restaurant) fall into this other category called "retail," which is a far squishier subject. While "farmer" is a seemingly straightforward enterprise, retail weaves into the mix of strictly regulated local farmers with (pretty much unregulated) kolaches and chocolate covered California almonds and dog biscuits and dish soap and beauty products. It is in this category that things start to get sticky.

Long ago, my very first sous chef Kyle and I determined that the best way to stand out from the crowd was to prepare totally handmade sausages and bacon from all-local everything, and sell these sausages cold to take with you, or cooked to order as you see fit. To be even remotely profitable after cost and labor, after butchering and grinding and packing and poaching and truck loading and driving and tent rentals, we figured we'd have to charge a buck an ounce. That's $4 for a four-ounce sausage.

It was at this very first junction that we broke with lemonade logic and chose a clouded path. For, we did not then realize, selling a costly sausage with an ethical bent required educating the consumer. Woe to thee who steps on to this bridge unarmed and unfunded. That is one big dragon.

"Is that…sausage?" visitors would ask, with wrinkled nose and accusatory finger. All day we stammered our way through reasoning with the customer that this was a very special product, and why exactly they didn't cost $3.50 a pack like they do at the grocery store. "Our vegetables all come from that farmer right there – the one in the blue shirt. It's organic. They are chemical free. Not raised in cages. Uh…." (they have left).

It was a flop. We were top-heavy: going home with a cooler full of sausage and our tails between our legs. So we decided to add soup – lower price, quick and cheap to make, easy to serve – maybe that would upright our financials and pull us out of the mud. The soup sold only sporadically. Sometimes we would sell out at six bucks a whack, and other days for the last half hour of breakdown we would just give it away to whoever wanted it. (Because, seriously, what are you going to do with six gallons of soup?)

Our product line swung all over the map, as we groped for something that would capture the hearts and minds of mankind. We made whole-seed mustard (good, steady seller), loaves of bread (we were limited to the 12 loaves we could cook in our little oven after a busy Friday night), jams and preserves and pickles of any local product we could get our hands on. Always spotty in performance – and whenever labor and cost went up, sales failed to follow at the same rate.

At our highest point of production, run by my dear friend Drew Moros, we had three employees slinging breakfast sandwiches, making Italian sodas from local fruit, selling soups and sausages and other charcuterie, and taking in cash as fast as we could – but burning it just as fast. One day, Drew sat me down and penciled out every nickel and dime of our income and expense, and showed me beyond any doubt that we were losing. Each and every time, no matter how you sliced it – we were losing.

She dissolved her own position that day, and went elsewhere.

I persisted. What about the marketing? The exposure? How would I ever teach anybody about Gwendolyn? I could not afford (and still can't) any form of real, paper-and-ink advertisement. We've never been well enough to be any better off. As exposure went, this was pretty much it.

So I chased the possible opportunity into a pipe that gradually shrank in diameter. I could run the tent myself, and then I wouldn't have to pay myself (unpaid labor makes a huge difference). Cutting down to only bread, mustard and a few jams, I sold an average of $125 a week, which now covered my lesser expenses, the market fees, and even sometimes left me with $40 to spend on produce, or to blow on a Sunday lunch for my girlfriend and kids. Physically and mentally, I couldn't keep up. I was at the restaurant scrubbing the floor and planning a menu until midnight – then jarring up jams and pickles until 1 a.m., or later.

After burning through all my favors with the managers, I had to hire someone to run the tent at the market. This changed two major facts: it ate up $110-160 I didn't have to begin with, and (still more dangerous) it took the message out of the hands of the person who produced the thing, and put it into the hands of someone who must be artificially indoctrinated with our larger purpose.

This was the picture of a small business disaster. We had become an insolvent jam and mustard store, and an ineffective marketing scheme.  The restaurant reservations I had always hoped for as a result of educating the consumer, of being out there and sweating shoulder-to-shoulder with the farmers from whom I bought everything I believed in – never came.

At a loss of how to correct this problem, but not willing to let go of my involvement with the market, I held on to this losing arrangement for more than two years. Then I fired the staff I had hired to run it, and ran it myself. For as long as I could, which turned out to be a few months.

Chef Michael Sohocki's hand-built pasta machine works like a charm. Even after being hit by a car. Photo by Michael Sohocki.

Chef Michael Sohocki's hand-built pasta machine works like a charm. Even after being hit by a car. Photo by Michael Sohocki.

I had this revolutionary idea of selling hand-cranked pasta before your very eyes, and so I built the machine to do it. It gathered crowds. It brought fascinated children from miles around. It made it onto a dozen cell phone videos a day – but it brought no reservations. I was losing heart.

That was when I packed up, turn on to Broadway, and came apart at the seams.

When someone goes to a steakhouse, they have already mentally eaten what they are about to consume even before they valet their sedan. Expectation is a powerful thing – far more powerful than anything that comes out of your mouth after the fact.

At a farmers market, this holds to be true. People decide what you are from 60 feet, and no amount of talking to the contrary will convince them otherwise. In fact, you often offend them if you try. Everyone decides that they are right, and nobody likes to be told that they are wrong -- and they would rather walk past you than to endure your correction. Those who sell clear and recognizable lemonade will triumph.

It is finally clear to me that I was never understandable from 60 feet, nor have I been able to understand my consumer. And this lack of clarity, like a Christopher Robin's little black rain cloud, has followed me all of my days.

 

https://rivardreport.wildapricot.org

 

Top image: Restaurant Gwendolyn's table at the Pearl Farmers Market offered all manner of products, but none seemed to take off. Photo by Michael Sohocki.

Related Stories:

Pearl Farmers Market Celebrates Five Successful Years

Pearl Adding Sunday Farmers Market

78209 Farmers Market: Exclusivity Clause Causes Vendors’ Exit

Why I Closed Lunch at Restaurant Gwendolyn

28 thoughts on “Sohocki: My Short Life As a Pearl Farmers Market Vendor

  1. Great atricle. You don’t have a little black cloud following you around. You have a sunny day shadowed by people’s disinterest (or crowdwd out by greater interest in other products/experience) with countervailing headwinds of basic economics. Be glad you don’t live in a small town.

    This is part of why Walmart ends up dominating those retail markets. A combination of ‘good enough’ products at a lower price overall. A Walmart sausage might be more expensive or not as delicious by itself, but when aggregated with everything else you can buy in the convenience of one trip, the difference isn’t valued by the consumer for the additional time and/or money to go somewhere else to buy it.

    That is combined with lower potential sales to non-Walmart sellers in the community (retail spending is a zero sum equation), which causes a declining number of viable local alternatives until there isn’t much retail left but Walmart for general merchandise and a few quirky local places providing unique products and/or service.

    In NYC, however, one can have a successful shop in a good location (easy to get to for lots of people) selling just a cooler full of handmade cheese and some pieces of occasional furniture almost tongue-in-cheek labeled ‘antiques’ one can carry out of the store.

    In the hot blare of a farmer market day, uncooked meat seems unhealthy, and many people go for just walking around or produce. Plus if it is cold enough for drinling soup, then people generally are not putside. And its weird to walk around drinking something with more texture than a broth or smoothie..so that limits the soups to purees.

    Sometimes people just want exotic lemonade. Which is why Mexican street vendors sell aqua frescas.

    You can’t be all things to all people. Augment what you do best now and what sets you apart.

    You might have gotten more new customers in the restaurant by just having a table giving out menus and maybe even small tidbit tastes if anything. But the time would have to be productive, like rolling silverware in napkins, ironing linens, or buying the produce there and doing food prep for show.

  2. I went through that long explanation because your article basically says you only were at the farmers market to advertise the off-site restaurants. So spending time and money doing anything else there either defeats your purpose or is successful by random chance.

    A goal without an actionable plan (physically workable and more than covers the cost) is just wishful thinking. Besides, maybe a little black cloud hanging around would create the perfect atmosphere for deeply flavored iced or hot teas and small lemon, lavender, or cardamon scones.

    • Ain’t a thing in the world wrong with your logic Steve, but there are rules.

      It pleased me the most to just give the stuff away. Realistically, there wasn’t much value in the six bucks I could conscionably take from you for your little jar of mustard anyhow. And what better way to get people to pay you in attention, than to simply refuse to take their money? So I tried it–and the association was after me like a swarm of angry yellow jackets. You are not welcome at the market if you don’t sell something.

      Thinking back now, the association DID make the right decision not to allow this. A table with a dressed up talker giving away menus? That already has a name: it’s called a trade show. In it for a penny, in it for a pound.

      The rest of this should really be left for an article by someone of greater importance to the shaping of our culture–like a president–but I must address it briefly.

      In this country today, we are struggling with an identity crisis of what a “farmers’ market” is supposed to be–or a “market” (or “food,” for that matter). Just look at the ratio of retail to living plant tissue at Pearl (which is in no way remarkable), and what is happening to that product mix. Walk around for five minutes and tell me who you think is winning. The very presence of a shampoo seller at a farmers’ market should raise red flags all over the place…but it doesn’t. Why?

      If this were set in Emilia-Romagna, where there is an uninterrupted culture of farmer’s markets for the past three hundred years, such a person would be chased out with torches–because it is a violation of culture. Here the farmer’s market is a novelty but recently reinvented, and fighting uphill to gain legitimacy and identity in an amnesiac culture that’s been on lockdown in a supermarket since at least World War II.

      The farmers’ market sings to our bones. We wander toward it like a dog to the fire–unable to explain why it feels right. But our bones don’t tell us to bring a basket. Under this spell of vague altruism we whip out our Visa, grab some biodegradable laundry detergent, and go eat shawarma.

  3. I read this article once, and it seemed to be missing a critical piece of information. So I read it again, looking, and nope, not there. That piece: What does your restaurant serve?

    Nothing you created for the market indicates this. The haphazard, make-money-however approach (apparently) doesn’t indicate this. The banners read “local, seasonal, old school,” which contain no specific information of any kind. Is your business vegan? Vegetarian? Do you serve fish? Are you vegetable heavy, meat heavy, a mix? If your business doesn’t have a voice, I have no way to listen to it.

    What you’re in dire need of is focus and an actual plan. What happened to you here is the opposite of a surprise. It is unfortunate, certainly, and I do feel for you. Next time, maybe have a plan. And stick to it.

    Nobody ever got rich chasing consumers. They got rich by making consumers come to them.

    Best of luck.

    • All true. Shoot me.

      It is a permanent problem: no one can describe Restaurant Gwendolyn (in the time provided).

      (breath.)

      Okay, here goes.

      “Old School” means we use only cooking techniques from 1850 and before, and use no electrical machine to produce the food.

      It is fine dining, multiple course, prix fixe menu, with a James Beard Award finalist chef. We do not use any mainline distributor (white trucks). We rely completely on local farms and ranches, and purchase directly from those farmers and ranchers. So the menu changes every day, like the weather.

      The menu changes EVERY SINGLE DAY–which means (and by now you’ve lost the attention of anyone at any concierge desk anywhere) that there is sometimes gulf snapper as an entree, and sometimes there is no fish at all. If the Gulf has produced no fish of quality today, then there is no safety net. We just make something else.

      We buy only whole animals on an ethical premise–because the whole animal had to die to be here. We change the menu to cook our way through an entire deer, or cow, or rabbit. You can sell “lamp chops” to exactly twelve people, if you cook every last one perfectly and don’t drop a single one–and if the thirteenth diner wants lamb chops, he’s SOL. Because that’s how God made the lamb. Chops don’t fall out of a pipe in the sky.

      Culturally we borrow from any people who were in San Antonio in 1850: so you will find German and Alsatian profiles next to Spanish and Italian dishes, with sprinkles of Mexican and French, and occasionally an African dish thrown in for variation. Each preparation is as authentic to its own origin as we can possibly execute. I am definitely not a proponent of fusion.

      But nobody but the choir is going to stand around and listen to you unpack that.

      When you explain a restaurant, you’ve got at most ten seconds to blow your whole thesis. If you can’t cough it up in that amount of time, they’re going for shrimp scampi and that’s that.

      • Give it to me in ten words or ten seconds, not ten paragraphs. Something like, oh… “Honest food. Honest methods. Honest sources. No compromises.”

        If I read that, and only that, on your banner, I would want to know more–and I would ask. But that’s me.

        • Says you.

          After reading that I’m coming in ASAP. I have heard of Gwendolyn but never knew why I should go. THAT right there makes me want to go, and so I will. Just because you need it in a slick wrapping doesn’t mean people like me (ex-restaurateur and person on the look out for different food) want it.

          We will be there next week Sohocki and I’m looking forward to it.

      • I love the idea of Gwendolyn. The constantly changing menu is a great concept–my favorite restaurant is like that, albeit monthly, and it really challenges the eater to try new things. And using the whole animal must be such a fun challenge for the chef! Sadly, my experience there was just not good at all. I’ve never paid so much for a meal where I did not like one course, and I wanted like it SO MUCH. The challenge with your concept is that you’re just trying to do too much, and it limits your guests to a very small subset of people. You MUST use 1800s tech, AND you MUST use the full animal AND you MUST have a set menu that changes every night. If you can’t explain your business model succinctly, you’re trying to pack too many concepts into one place. The fixed menus and high price make it a “special occasion only” spot price wise, and only on a night where you are really hungry and have room for the multiple courses. Add into that the lack of continuity in that every single night EVERYTHING changes, and you further limit your audience to the daring. While it might be easy to sneer at people who aren’t daring enough to go into a meal blind (menus online both times I visited were not accurate), money is money. Sometimes you have to suck it up and realize that Wal-Mart-shopping, Dominos-loving patrons’ money is just as good as food snobs’ money. I love your passion, it’s just made you blind to what the market wants. There are ways to educate the fanny-pack society without completely ostracizing them. I’d recommend expanding the menu options, and keeping one or two staple items on the menu all nights. When I go to Parigis, I know that certain things will always be on the menu if for some reason I don’t like anything on the rotating menu (which has never happened, but I digress). You clearly have the talent and the passion, you just need to simplify.

      • Gwendolyn seems to me like a very nice normal restaurant that serves fresh seasonal and local food – like Slow Cooking. I like it. Specials, or daily specials, last till they run out..

        In Omaha there is a great French Bistro downtown in sort of a loft type district eastside of downtown. They just have 5 or 6 things, snacks, some cheese, black coffee, maybe 3 entrees and they serve till out. I love going there when visiting for work. Great atmosphere.. but it cracks me up when their 3 entrees are pork chop, quail eggs, or ramp quiche, etc. One trip I went about 9pm, and all they had left was calf liver and onions and a loaf of bread… but great bread, good butter, and the best red wine sauce.. I asked them once if people get mad when they go there and there is only calf liver or quail eggs and coffee (and lots of good wine for sale)… and they said that some people in Omaha just don’t get it.. so they give serve them some warm bread/butter and tell them they have a great wine list. Occasionally people lease and go across the street to the Spaghetti Warehouse.

        Maybe it’s the [lack of] appreciation of all the effort that goes into the whole dining experience there that begins to seem heavy, but THERE IS NO BLACK CLOUD following you around. You are providing a valuable service of educating your customers and developing an audience…which like any wave, you paddle hardest at the beginning, ride the crest, or sit around by yourself after it’s past by. At some point there is a cost benefit of how much is art – which is intangible.

        I like going there. I hated the restaurants at Williamsburg because they were supposed to be authentic yet used Iceberg lettuce. Texture of the time is as important as the taste and smell.

        But what does Old School mean?? and 1850 seems arbitrary when it’s part of a description. It begins to sound contrived… when it is actually anything BUT that. Let the menu and service talk.

        1850 was the change from French to Russian plate service, which limits serving to mostly buffet. I should have been taken aback by individual plates brought to the table. Hearth cooking and NO GAS STOVES. Do you only recreate recipes from The Frugal Housewife book of receipts that published in 1850?? Oh, no Cling Peaches, no baking soda, and nothing labeled Vegetation (movement founded in 1850).

        When people say Old School cooking. I always think of this I read once…

        old school = demi glace
        new school = glace de viande
        modernist school = beef noodles

        Next restaurant can be Maximillian & Carlotta with a mix French style early Spanish moles, convent vegetables, and grilled meat of 1860s Mexico. FYI.. don’t open the next one in Beeville.

  4. I enjoyed my few meals at Gwendolyn greatly. A truly unique experience and what a treat to enjoy conscientious cooking that focuses on every molecule and every step of the preparation.
    I’m saddened to read of your Broadway bad-luck mishap. You are a hardworking, innovative pioneer inspired to do the right thing in every process of your endeavor. It seems you are fulfilled by your work; I wish you economic fulfillment from it as well.
    And I am looking forward to my next visit to Gwendolyn.
    Note to readers: If you haven’t been to Gwendolyn, forego some ordinary restaurant meals and apply those funds to a memorable one at Gwendolyn.
    http://www.restaurantgwendolyn.com/

  5. I think that you would do much better in Austin. People here are looking for organic products. The food truck is a huge growing business here so that might be a niche for you. Good luck.

    • Austin is flooded with organic everything. I think Michael is doing well enough in San Antonio Helene, he went from opening one restaurant in San Antonio to now having three. Organic produce has been selling strongly at The Pearl and other farmers markets for years now.

  6. Maybe people look and taste the interesting stuff but eat what is affordable and familiar. I agree with the food truck idea…but the price must be moderate. Much as I would like to be an adventurous diner, my pocketbook won’t allow it!

  7. Most successes are achieved after many many failures. You tried something and it didn’t perform as you hoped. But now, you’ve learned from it and perhaps further distilled your dreams into more workable model. It is a credit that you are willing to roll up your sleeves and work with such passion. I’ve been fortunate to attend one of your Slow Food cooking classes, which was as much about technique as it was about the ingredients’ terroir. We have loved your Kimura- the best we’ve had outside of Japan. The chef was working on soft tofu for the first time and was very honest about his doubts, yet we were enthusiastic to try something new and appreciated the daring to try to make it from scratch (it was delicious by the way). We have a toddler so fine dining has been on hold, but we’ve tried out Il Forno and love the fresh concept (not to mention the delicious aioli made from the oranges sourced down the street). The Farmers Market may not have generated you a profit, but it did provide exposure and a lot of smiles for the attendees. Instead of a Farmers Market, with its fickleness, perhaps it would be better to stock a couple of shelves of a fine epicurean store. I look forward to any of your enterprises and wish you the best in all of your endeavors! And take a break- you work too hard!

  8. I would disagree with Helene in that the food truck business in Austin is indeed huge, but getting close to OVER grown. Very hard to stand out in that crowd now, or find an affordable, profitable spot. Several food truck parks have become just the foundations of the city’s next condo projects. And three new restaurants open every week.

    If it’s called a “Farmer’s Market” I DO bring a basket, because that’s what I expect, not soap, vegan noodles and over-priced baked goods. Maybe we should come up with another name for a “Farmers’ Market” that is not really so, but one of those “events” at the Pearl. Save that title for the legitimate vending by small grower/rancher/farmers of only raw produce and meats. Truth in advertising and all.

  9. I’m the type of person that goes out of their way to buy lemonade from neighborhood stands and shops weekly at farmer’s markets. I applaud your work and miss the best damn chorizo ever sold at pearl. Thank you for all that work. For goodness sake…take a rest! You deserve it!

    Also, see if you couldn’t do a cooking demo every now and again. Much less stress and something that I (and a crowd) truly enjoy and miss.

  10. Chef Michael keep your chin high. Let me tell you what I remember. Eve and I were strolling through downtown and a man approached us and nicely handed us a flyer for a new restaurant opening soon on the river, Restaurant Gwendolyn. The menu promoted lunch sandwiches. In talking with the gentleman he told us the restaurant would be open for dinner soon and the food would be spectacular, old school techniques and farm to table products. Some time passed and we finally decided to try Restaurant Gwendolyn for lunch. Boy the sandwiches were amazing, worth every dollar and cent! Then shortly after, we made reservations for dinner. Eve, Fenna and I try every restaurant (new and old)- name it- we have been. Out of all the restaurants we have tried and continue to try –we are in love with Restaurant Gwendolyn. We are regulars at Gwens, Kimura, and Il Forno. We—Eve, Fenna and I– believe and stand behind you. I’m sorry for your bump in the road. We all have those bumps every now and then. When we feel we have been defeated, well the only way is up. We will continue to support you.—Patricia, Eve and Fenna.

  11. For what it’s worth, your sandwiches were my favorite part of the market. I had wondered why you stopped making them there! I guess we were lucky to be able to try your food at the Pearl.

  12. Chef Michael, I have been keeping up with your writings for some time and I am unsure as to whether you realize how your word choice influences the reception of your message. Your writings, particularly this article, reflect your utmost, albeit subtle, contempt for people whom you do not consider your peers. The market people are plebeian since they tarnish the Farmers’ Market with homemade products that are not agricultural in nature. Your employees have to be “artificially indoctrinated” and have to be ” fired” because your market is not profitable. Is this the correct word or would “termination” have been more apropos and not hurt your two employees who sweated blood, sweat and tears for you because they DID believe in your work ethic. As you love being nostalgic and feel more comfortable within the past, let me give you an anecdote. As part of a large family, I was assigned the enviable task of washing dishes. If a dish was broken, I would tell my mother that the dish is broken. She would make me change that sentence from passive to active: “I broke the dish”–thereby taking responsibility. I would suggest you do the same: the rope did not slip its knot, causing the wagon to fall on Broadway–it slipped because you did not secure it properly. I suggest that you learn to suffer fools gladly and be less harsh– treating all people with fairness and respect. The black cloud will dissipate. And the crowds will flock to you.

  13. I’m not sure I have ever rolled my eyes so hard at an article before.

    Let me explain my experience with YOU at a recent farmers market. I do not judge the tables from 60 feet, in fact I prefer to speak with the sellers before purchasing. Something I tried to do with you. On your table I saw a few loaves of bread, some jams, and other items. No obvious signage, no prices, nothing. So I asked if you had a certain type of bread. Your exact response was “I am a fine dining restaurant, I only bake milk bread.” You then got up, and walked me over to Sol y Luna, and handed me off to one of their employees and said that they would have what I am looking for.

    If that wasn’t the most arrogant way to speak to a customer who was genuinely interested in what you had to offer then I don’t know what is. You made zero effort to inform me what milk bread is, what it is used for, how to eat it, or if it even pairs with your jams. And ever since that day I have had no interest in trying your restaurant because I don’t want to give my money to someone who is going to talk down to me without even giving me a chance. I am a frequent visitor and buyer at the farmers markets around town, and have never had that experience with anyone else.

    It’s too bad that the farmers market didn’t work out for you. But if you treat anyone else the same way you did me, I am surprised it took so long for you to figure out it wasn’t the place for you.

  14. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I’m sorry the farmer’s market has you feeling defeated, but I put that wonderful mustard on many a sandwich. Once you sold me a bone that I used to make a navy bean soup that my kids ate for days. There are plenty of residents that appreciate all of your efforts to bring local and handcrafted food to San Antonio.

  15. People will talk, and assume shit.
    This is the time when you read the comments, read other’s opinions and then analyze.
    You get a glance of what they think about you. There was, are and will always be people that build you or destroy you, others are just irrelevant. We will always criticize no matter what perspective. People even focus on grammar and the vocabulary used instead of understanding the sentence first. They roll their eyes, they call you arrogant, they kiss your ass, they might think you rock, or that you suck. Everyone is right. Everyone.
    If you feel defeated is because you are. You failed. The teacher did not fail you, no, you failed. Everything happens for a reason, but everything, and I mean all events, fortunate or unfortunate are cause and effect. And you know what? Congratulations, you are on the way to success. And you are farther than many, even than what you think. Urbans say don’t throw the towel, use it to wipe down sweat and keep hustling, I say use it to wipe down blood not sweat. I know you used it to clean your mess. I admire your work, and your self-effacement. Please keep believing in yourself, because it’s only a few yards and you will reach success, the one that you want, you will be successful through innovation, determination and being humble.
    I send you my respect and admiration. Blessings to your family.

  16. Thank you for this article. I’m a hairstylist/makeup artist. I was self employed for 5 struggling years before going back to working for someone else. In that 5 years I got creative trying to fill in the financial blanks. I crocheted scarfs, made soaps with high quality essential oils, did a few tv segment and even had talent agent before choosing to let go of the reigns.

    I’ve always enjoyed cooking and eating clean. But my husband and I have for many years dabbled with the idea of homesteading when we retire. The idea came when I realized that by wanting to have max control of what we put in our bodies and lessen our reliance on big business, we would have to begin growing our own food. It’s not cheap and it most certainly isn’t easy. We have yet to do it successfully and thankfully we still have the conveniences of modern living.

    But I will tell you this: More and more people feel the way we do. We would rather support local small businesses and have quality over a long list of unpronounceable ingredients. We, along with many others are tired of reading labels and having the FDA regulate everything we put in our mouths or on our bodies.

    Farmers markets are still a young idea to San Antonio. But understand that more and more of us are seeing the value in them and the economics of supporting them. So I would ask you, please don’t think that this is a pipe dream. Don’t let go of your vision. We see your art and integrity and we want more of it. The only way that can happen in the face of chain grocers and restaurants is by developing a network of strong co-ops, which is where you were heading by using local and organic ingredients. The more people see it and experience it, the more a custom they will be to having those foods and experiences. Particularly, with the new knowledge that is being exposed about unethical farming practices involved in selling to mass markets.

    Again, please don’t give up.

  17. It takes a lot of heart to write what you did. I don’t feel sorry for you but I respect you for being sincere and open. Next time my girlfriend and I have a night off from our kid, we’ll be at the Gwendolyn.

    Thanks Michael.

  18. Oh boo who. Maybe if he worked on his personality he would sell more. Have a sign that tells people what your selling. To compare vendors to selling lemonade is an insult to them. It almost seems like boo who poor me I couldn’t make it.

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