Whether it's handmade bath products, fresh produce or a jar of jam, local vendors say the Pine Bluff Farmers Market has something for everyone. The market opened on Saturday, providing residents a chance to supports small business owners like Erica Hudson and Traci Hudson-Thomas, owners of HudSuds.
“My sister and I started our business in November,” said Traci Hudson. It's a soap company that's handmade and homemade.”
In addition to soaps, HudSuds' product lineup includes whipped butter, sugar scrubs, body spray and shower gel among other items. Hudson says their home goods include a special ingredient.
“Our soaps have goat milk in them,” Hudson said. “So, it's really good for those with sensitive skin and allergic to certain things.”
Farmers Market manager, Tabitha Wilson, says about six to seven vendors participated in the season opening.
“We had a wonderful turnout,” said Wilson. “We let all of the vendors come free today since it's the first day. So, they enjoyed that.”
For decades, the market has provided local vendors an opportunity to meet the needs of the community.
“This gives the community members a chance to grow and prosper in their business and is helping us also because we get to come out here and shop, too,” Wilson said.
Since 1981, Lawrence Mayer has been a part of the Farmers Market. He even remembers when it was located on Walnut Street. As a farmer, he's sold various produce over the years.
“I've been farming all my life,” Mayer said. “That's about the only thing I know and still don't know everything about that. I've enjoyed it so and I plan to stay in it the few years I have left.”
Bobbie Carpenter Grady and her family set up shop at the market. Grady, similar to Mayer has been supporting the market for years.
“We're trying to keep the Pine Bluff Farmers Market alive,” she said.
Grady, who was hopeful for a larger turnout, believed it was multiple reasons as to why more patrons didn't show up on opening day.
“They need to go to a better location where people have easy access,” said Grady of the new Saracen Landing location. “The other problem is people don't cook like they used to.”
Grady urges those seeking fresh fruits and vegetables to visit the Farmers Market. She says the support will not only help local business owners, but also help the market return to its heyday.
“Unless they get it themselves, they can't get it any fresher,” Grady said. “When the truck gets there to Walmart, you never know how long it's been hauled. So, the only way to get it fresher than growing it yourself is a Farmers Market.”