24 of the 25 designated Virginia Main Street communities have active farmers markets. In addition to being great places to buy locally-grown produce, eggs and meat, farmers markets also serve as small business incubators. As pointed out in Ashley Fletcher Frampton’s article, Entrepreneurs Get Start at Area Farmers Markets, the low start-up costs and captive audiences at farmers markets allow entrepreneurs to develop a following, experiment with pricing and marketing, ramp up sales and move on to larger ventures or permanent storefronts.
And, that seems to be exactly the scenario followed by Lynchburg’s Lorraine Bakery. After years of baking breads and pastries at home, in 2007, Petra Hackman, her husband Steve and their children rented a temporary stall at the Lynchburg Community Market. The family’s beautifully-crafted, European-style breads quickly garnered a loyal following. A year after setting up their temporary stall, the Hackmans were able to establish a permanent store front still in the Community Market known as the Lorraine Bakery. The bakery now offers more than two dozen different types of European-style breads in addition to pastries, crepes and other sweet and savory delights. According to one fan, “it’s a little bit of Europe in Lynchburg.”
Lynchburg’s Community Market opened its doors in 1783 and is purported to be the third oldest farmers market in the country. Perhaps it is also the third oldest business incubator in the country. For a truly “local” experience that shouldn’t be missed, and to scout out new up and coming businesses, take a trip down to your community’s farmers market or stop by the Lynchburg Community Market when you are in the area. The market is open year-round, Tuesday-Saturday, 7 a.m.-2 p.m.