The first week Claremont held its Tailgate Market, three vendors showed up to sell produce and plants. The next week, nine vendors came. The week after that, 14 citizen sellers lined the Claremont City Hall parking lot. Now, Claremont Special Events Coordinator Henry Helton said he is turning people away.
“I hate to say no, but they just keep coming and coming,” said Helton, who pitched the idea for a tailgate market to Claremont City Council earlier this year. Citizens can sell their produce, crafts and homegrown items at the Tailgate Market for no charge – which is what attracts vendors like Kenny Wall to Claremont.
“I told them they ought to charge something, but it’s nice not to have to pay a fee,” Wall said. Most flea and produce markets charge fees for vendors to sell their goods. Wall, who sells peas, tomatoes, green beans, corn and honey about three times a week at sites throughout the region, pays $100 a year just to sell one day a week in Statesville.
“I hope they have this another year,” Wall said. “I’d like to come up here rather than Statesville. There are a lot friendlier people here.” To become a vendor at the Tailgate Market, a potential seller must first complete an application. If a vendor plans to sell produce, breads or any food items, they must also obtain a growers certification from Catawba County (or their home county), Helton said.
Helton added that spaces in Tailgate Market will come available as other vendors drop out. Some vendors think Tailgate Market is more than just an easy way to make extra cash. John Roberts, of Conover, occasionally sells produce at the market from his son’s farm. He said the market promotes the community. “A lot of people congregate here, and it’s like a community,” Roberts said. “It helps the small business man, too.” Roberts added that the Tailgate Market ensures fresh food.
“You can do without a lot of things, but you can’t do without fresh water, air and food,” he said. For more information on the Claremont Tailgate Market, contact the city hall at 828-459-7009.