Foote's Farm Market
Before the “Eat Local” boom took towns and cities by storm there was Foote’s Farm Market (Foote’s Market), a family-owned operation that’s been sourcing local products and developing relationships with farmers since 1990. “We’ve always been buying and selling local, maybe that’s why we didn’t realize it was such a trend,” says Kimberley Foote, office manager of Foote’s Market.
Foote’s Market calls Centreville, Nova Scotia, home, just minutes away from the scenic Bay of Fundy and quaint fishing village Hall’s Harbour in the Annapolis Valley. “We serve Centreville and the small communities on the outskirts of town,” shares Kimberley. “Foote’s Market has a strong farmer base. There’s a farmer up the road who does beet greens and another a community over that grows tomatoes and cucumbers; then a few more miles away one we buy corn from. We don’t grow anything, but 80 to 90 percent of our produce base is from local people.”
Pedal pushing to store-front success
The family-owned company has been nurturing relationships with local producers since Bradley J. Foote, founder of Foote’s Market, started peddling a produce cart, setting up roadside stands in the early 1990s. “Bradley is my father-in-law; him and my husband, Michael Foote, started the business,” recounts Kimberley. “They would go to Lunenburg County, Dartmouth Penhorn Mall and the Dartmouth farmers market to set up produce tables.”
After years of carting produce around, the Foote family decided to build a warehouse closer to home in Centreville and in 2001, officially opened Foote’s Market. “They thought, well if we’re going to put a warehouse up, why not open a market in the store front and that’s how we got started,” details Kimberly.
A familiar face
Soon after the Foote’s Market purchased the adjacent property to further expand operations and the company now has a staff of 18 employees; however, the growth hasn’t changed the way the store does business. “We’re still a small, family operation,” says Kimberley. “We’re not huge, about 1,400 square feet, and we don’t plan on having more markets, but we do attract quite a few people from about Halifax to Yarmouth.”
For Foote’s Market, it’s about extending the family-feel, offering a familiar face to welcome new and regular customers alike. “We’re a family-based business and we like to share that with our customers,” says Kimberley. “We know our customers by name and it’s nice for them to come into the store and seeing someone behind the counter they know, as well. This helps us stay competitive with the big-box stores.”
Foote’s Market’s main offering is the freshest possible local produce; however, Kimberley says the store also offers meat, seafood and other grocery items. “Our selection is not going to be like a grocery store, but if you’re coming in to get salad fixings, we also have salad dressing for example,” she says. “We bring in fish, such as fresh haddock from the bay and lobsters on occasion. We also work with local meat suppliers, delivering sausage, bacon, fresh-ground hamburger, strip loin, free-range chicken and more from Berwick and Canning.”
Over at the bakery counter Foote’s Market stocks a selection of pies, cookies, locally-made Heart Smart bread. Customers will also find homemade sauerkraut, farm-fresh eggs, milk and cheese.
Standing out through savings
Even with a broad selection of farm-fresh products, like any retailer, Foote’s Market has to find ways to differentiate from the next store. “We had our annual meeting earlier this year to discuss what we can do to improve,” says Kimberley. “Our employees brought up the idea of offering a discount program and we decided to implement it.”
In March 2014, Foote’s Farm launched the Vicinity Rewards program, which connects with other small businesses. “The card is linked with others in the province, allowing customers to use the same card within all of the businesses that have also signed up,” Kimberley explains. “For every $5 spent, customers earn one point and 50 points gets you $5 off your next purchase.”
According to Kimberley, the company has also been able to adapt to a competitive market by relying on a strong wholesale arm. “Outside of the in-house market, we have specialized in the wholesale arena since the early 1990s,” shares Kimberley. “We deliver fruits and vegetables to restaurants and smaller retailers from Halifax to Yarmouth.”
Now, 13 years later, Foote’s Market’s success is widely recognized. “We were recently voted Best Farm Market in the Annapolis Valley,” reveals Kimberley. “We’re definitely on the right path to further success.”
As the market gears up for summers’ offerings – juicy strawberries, sweet corn and asparagus and cucumbers – Foote’s Farm Market continues to do what it does best, delivering the best of the region’s local bounty.