University City: Farmers’ Market Thrives Despite Economy, Weather and Other Food Alternatives

John King standing at his farmers' market, a neighborhood staple for the past 12 years.
Owner John King stood at his farmers' market, a neighborhood staple for the past 12 years.

In recent economic times, many would think the farmers’ market was struggling like many other small businesses. But John King has been at 39th Street and Lancaster Avenue for 12 years and shows no signs of stopping.

In 2001, markets lined the street, but because of what he described as a “lack of patience” they were soon gone. King’s stand became the only farmers’ market in the area and services University City every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“I’m doing really well,” he said. “Its a good market in the summertime. People want to buy directly from farmers.” King doesn’t go into neighboring supermarkets to monitor prices, but he said he believes items cost about the same.

When it comes to fresh fruits and vegetables, he said he doesn’t believe there is any competition, insisting that the quality of his products are what keeps bringing customers back despite economic hardships. In 2008, he pulled in nearly $300,000 in revenue but saw a 10 percent drop only a year later. Recently, his profits have bounced back to previous levels.

King said that he likes the diversity of University City and has become attached to his customers. About half of his customers are African-American and he is seeing a growing number of college students as schools continue to expand into the neighborhood.

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