If Sheridan Plaza were a stage, it could present a fascinating story about the evolution of food sales within its borders.
When the Sheridan Plaza Farmers Market officially opened, the vendors’ tents directly faced the empty storefront which once housed a Price Chopper supermarket. That vacancy prompted Dierdre Delaney and Brian DeBraccio to once again sell food in the lot, even if only once a week. The market, at 1338 Gerling St., will be open from 2 to 6 p.m. every Friday this summer.
Customers only had four vendors to shop from Friday: Karen’s Produce, Fort Hunter Farms, Brickhouse Cakery and Truffles Cupcakes. Still, word of mouth and lawn signs generated enough hype for about 50 people to show up before 2, said Collette DiCarlo, who runs the Truffles Cupcakes stand. She hadn’t known anyone was waiting until she saw people in parked cars begin opening their doors at once. Many waiting were from nearby apartment complexes, either Sheridan Apartments across the street or Netherlands Village a block further.
For customers who can’t easily get out of their cars, vendors didn’t mind doing business through a rolled-down window. Delaney calls it their “drive-through” service.
Jim Mindel, who lives in Schenectady, says his elderly in-laws live in Netherlands Village and since Price Chopper closed, they haven’t been able to walk to a grocery store. He plans on regularly swinging by the farmers market to pick up fresh produce for them. Mindel said he was tired of the “mutant strawberries that the giant supermarkets sell” because “you bite in and find out they have no taste.”
Unfortunately for him, other customers bought up Fort Hunter Farms’ stock of fresh strawberries an hour before 5 p.m., when he arrived.
The Fort Hunter Farms tent was run by DeBraccio, who estimated there were 20 varieties of flowers, including impatiens and begonias, along with tomato plants, yellow squash and zucchini.
Meanwhile, Truffles Cupcakes featured a wide range of flavors, from Orange Creamsicle to Double Chocolate Mousse. DiCarlo’s best seller was the Jumbo Fudge Peanut Butter Brownie, which, despite measuring approximately 4-by-4 inches, costs only $2. She estimated it sold out in an hour and a half.
A pair of sisters ran the Karen’s Produce stand. Courtney Shaver, 22, and Jenna Nelson, 10, sold spinach, swiss chard, shallots, leaf lettuce, head lettuce, snow peas, sugar snap peas and regular shell peas. On other days of the week, they sell their produce at eight other farmers markets.
Delaney sells maple syrup, homemade baked goods (such as lemon shortbread cookies and strawberry rhubarb muffins) and small-batch jams at her Brickhouse Cakery stand.
All four vendors offered teaser trailers of the products they would sell when the summer offered more seasonal produce. Delaney promised “plums, peaches, cherries — sour cherry jam always sells out.” She’ll develop new muffin recipes, too.
Delaney wants to offer customers the cheese, bread and honey so many of them have been clamoring for. She’s hoping vendors who carry these products will apply to join the market. But Delaney plans on capping the vendor list at 10, when the line of tents would grow long enough to nearly reach the Rosa Road entrance to Sheridan Plaza.
“People like to drag race from Rosa Road,” she said. “It’s not safe.”
Even though opening day passed incident-free, she recalls seeing a car speed through the lot diagonally the previous Friday. “People are really happy we’re here,” says Delaney.
Sure enough, a customer of Truffles Cupcakes called out to her on his way past: “You’re going to come every Friday?”
Delaney assured him that they would.
“Every Friday,” he repeated to himself, nodding contentedly.
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