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A Tale of 2 Cities and Their Markets: Part 2

By RBRevival:
In contrast to the Broadway Market (see part 1 of the series), a high profile, struggling entity, the Clinton-Bailey Market doesn’t get a lot of press and is rarely a topic of conversation at the dinner table or bar stool.  I have never heard that the Market is struggling financially or is attracting a viable amount of vendors and customers.  However, after a trip to Detroit’s Eastern Market I began to wonder if the Clinton-Bailey Market is living up to its potential.
WNY has a great assortment of farmers markets every Saturday from Spring to Fall.  Whether it’s Bidwell Parkway, the Williamsville Famers Market, or the parking lot in the Village of Hamburg, these markets provide a great opportunity for local growers to get fresh fruits and vegetables into the hands of the consumer.  But due to the size and small number of vendors at some of these markets, they can almost be considered boutique farmers markets.  There are some produce bargains mixed in with some higher-end, more expensive goods such as wine, jams and gourmet cheeses.  I had never been blown away by a farmers market as a destination though, until I visited Eastern Market.
The Saturday we visited Detroit, my girlfriend and I had been out seeing some sites and had come across several signs posted advertising the Eastern Market.  It was on the way back to the hotel so we decided to check it out on a whim. 


The market is located just north east of downtown Detroit, at the intersection of I-75 and I-375, making it easily accessible for both residents of the city as well as those from the expansive suburbs that surround Detroit.
We found free parking in one of the surface lots that dot the area around the Eastern Market.  There also seemed to be ample street parking in addition to these lots.  This is important, as part of the draw of a farmers market is the direct-to-consumer savings.  If that savings is eaten up in parking fees it defeats part of the purpose.
We entered the Eastern Market from its Northern end, and immediately came across a huge assortment of flowers, house plants, trees and other landscaping products.  The market was bustling; customers were carrying full flats of flowers from the stand to their cars that their friends and family had strategically pulled up to the curb.  This first block of the market was as large as any of the farmers markets I had been to previously. I thought I was looking at the majority of the market, which came across as some sort of specialty plant and flowers market.  It seemed cool enough, but not what I was expecting. 
As we walked through the market from Shed to Shed, the products changed from plants, to fruits and vegetables.  Vendors were drastically marking down product as the end of the day approached and shouted out deals trying to make final sales while patrons strolled through munching on some of the ready to eat products.  I thought to myself, “Now this, this is a market!”


After we finished exploring all the sheds in the market itself, we started to walk the streets around the market.  The whole area was dedicated to food.  Many of the local producers had setup their operations around the market. Germack, a company that makes all the peanuts for the Detroit sports teams, was right across the street.  There was a cafe next door serving up great gourmet coffee and a BBQ joint had chairs and karaoke setup in the street allowing customers to entertain and be entertained.  This area was more than just a farmers market, it was a food district, each operation playing off of each other to create a completely unique destination.
The same bones exist in Buffalo’s Clinton-Bailey market that spurred the success of the Eastern Market.  The area around Clinton-Bailey is the food distribution center of WNY. Many restaurants come here in the early morning to obtain the produce they serve to us all around the city.  Desidario’s has a large facility right next to the property and has enjoyed great success over the past decade as there has been a push towards healthier lifestyles.  The market itself already has some “sheds” as the Eastern Market calls them, although every time I visit the market they seem vastly underutilized.


It would be beneficial for Buffalo and WNY to not only establish a go-to farmers market with the variety and draw of the Eastern Market, but also a stronger food district around that area.  We all know Buffalo has great local food products, but they seem to be scattered though throughout the city.  A strong market drawing tens of thousands of people on a weekend could lead to a critical mass food district, so that when a new producer is starting up he or she would want to be in that district because of the spin-off business.  An established district like this could also help avoid issues such as the controversy with the slaughter house that tried to open up on William Street.  The city can say “we have a place for your business”, and that place is the Clinton-Bailey section of Buffalo.
I think of food producers that have relocated within WNY over the last few years.  English Pork Pie Company recently filled a vacant building, which is a win, though they are rather isolated on South Park and customers need to make a special stop.  Premium Roasters on Route 5 has a great product, and store, but could benefit from foot traffic generated by a large famers market.
Consumers obviously benefit as we
ll. As the pendulum begins to swing back from highly processed packaged foods, to an emphasis on a healthier diet, access to fresh foods will become increasingly important.  The variety at Eastern Market was second to none, while the prices driven by all the competition were truly whole sale prices.  
Some may question the location. This area of Buffalo is often thought of as a pass through neighborhood.   It’s further from Downtown than the Eastern Market in Detroit, but it is easily accessible from the I-190 which runs into the mainline I-90 a few miles east.  This allows for easy access for both vendors and customers.  The removal of the Ogden toll booths also makes this area more inviting for all parties.  There are areas for parking around the market if it were to grow in size, which could stay free unlike other locations throughout the city.  In the past few years ideas have been floated for a market downtown that mimics the Pike Place Market.  It’s important to remember that great downtowns alone don’t make great cities, great neighborhood are necessary as well.  This kind of investment, in what is a mostly stable but somewhat forgotten area, could be another piece of the puzzle.


What would it take to get this done?  Obviously this transition won’t happen overnight.  First, Clinton-Bailey needs to spread the word about what they have and when they have it.  Many of my friends and family don’t even know this market exists.  Incremental facility improvements could go a long way, the Eastern Market had obviously invested in their facilities to enhance the experience of both shoppers and vendors.  The Clinton-Bailey market is not much fun in inclement weather, better use of the sheds and more enclosed facilities would lessen the affect wind, rain and snow has on patrons.  Niagara Frontier Growers who run Clinton-Bailey would have to adopt a more comprehensive and aggressive plan for the market and the area.  The mission statement of the Eastern Market Corporation is impressive in focus and goals.
“The mission of the Eastern Market Corporation is to mobilize leadership and resources to achieve stakeholders vision for the Eastern Market District and make the Eastern Market the undisputed center for fresh and nutritious food in southeast Michigan.”
I hope we all continue to enjoy our markets in Buffalo and WNY, in whatever form they take. The beauty of markets though is that they are organic – each small stand or table adds to the experience or takes away from it.  To me they are a breath of fresh air in a market place where as a consumer I feel further and further away from the source. A trip to Detroit left me asking if we are giving enough and getting enough from our Markets.

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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  • Move Along Plz

    Love my farmers market in North Tonawanda! Best one in the area hands down!

  • elmdog

    nothing can work in this city, because no one wants it to unless there name is on it…

  • rb09

    One of the best markets in America is in Rochester, NY.
    The Rochester Public Market was voted America’s favorite market in 2010…
    With a resounding 2,400-vote victory over second place finisher and last year’s champion (the Davis, California Farmers Market), the Rochester Public Market won the 2010 America’s Favorite Farmers Market contest. This annual national contest, sponsored by the American Farmland Trust, measures love for markets around the country in the form of votes cast by fans of the markets.
    I often take the hour drive to Rochester just to go to the market.
    Why can’t Buffalo have a market like Rochester ?

  • burbsarenotbuffalo

    I agree- the N Tonawanda market is awesome.
    People don’t realize just how crappy the Bidwell Farmers Market its. Try the Clinton Bailey or N Tonawanda Market instead and see for yourself.

  • NBuffguy

    There are great markets in cities all around this country. Portland, Maine has one of my favorite. Baltimore has a set of six historic public markets, all established in the 18th and 19th centuries: Broadway Market in Fells Point, Cross Street Market in Federal Hill, Hollins Market, Northeast Market, Avenue Market, and the Lexington Market. Some are located in stable, attactive neighborhoods while others are in transitional neighborhoods. They’re all pretty busy most of the time. I am not sure why Buffalo’s Broadway Market isn’t making the grade, but maybe city leaders could visit places like Portland and Baltimore to find out about they’re recipe for success.

  • rb09

    Videos of Rochester’s Public Market…

    There is a new walkway that connects public market parking lots west of Union St. with the market grounds.

  • crc

    My wife and I just returned from a weekend trip in Cleveland and I think that’s a city that has many parallels as Buffalo. One thing that we loved was their west side market. We were jealous that a city like Cleveland had something this nice, yet Buffalo didn’t.
    It had free parking and existed in a pretty hopping (pun intended) area as well. I think Buffalo could pull it off, but I’m not quite sure where. I’m not sold on the Clinton/Bailey area (and definitely not sold on the Broadway market).

  • Dan

    > Why can’t Buffalo have a market like Rochester ?
    It can. The Broadway Market may be the problem. Like I said before, it functions not a general food market, but a specialty Polish market with niche appeal to those with roots in the “old neighborhood”. Its role is more nostalgic than practical. Changing the ethnic focus of the market to something with broader appeal, or building a new market in a more convenient or desirable location, is politically difficult.

  • rb09

    Canal Side… !

  • Dan

    > One of the best markets in America is in Rochester, NY.
    You misspelled “Ithaca”.

  • rb09

    I’ve been to the Ithaca market… I prefer the Rochester Public Market.

  • Dan

    > city leaders could visit places like Portland and Baltimore to find out about they’re recipe for success.
    I’ll save them some money. It’s simple.
    * A great space. Consider Cleveland’s West Side Market.
    * A great location. Convenient, safe, and preferably not an island, metaphorically speaking.
    * A layout that is convenient for farmers and small value-added food producers. That means stalls they can almost drive up to, such as the Ithaca Farmer;s Market, or the produce arcade at Cleveland’s West Side Market.
    At the Broadway Market, that used to be the ground level of their parking ramp; it’s where you went if you wanted fresh locally grown produce, live chickens, and the like. Not exactly the best environment for that, even in the 1960s and 1970s.

  • ColorMeBuff

    The Clinton-Bailey Market is located 3.3 miles from downtown Buffalo. I agree with RBRevival regarding this quote: “It’s important to remember that great downtowns alone don’t make great cities, great neighborhoods are necessary as well”. Part of what makes a city a great place to live is not just a populated and thriving downtown, but also the neighborhoods that surround it. The Clinton-Bailey market already has the basic structure necessary to provide this to Buffalo. A market as described above would also have a great impact on the area surrounding the market, which is always part of the arguement, correct?
    Starting from scratch because the location currently isn’t optimal for whichever reason isn’t necessarily the best solution to increase the livability and sustainability of Buffalo as a whole. Suppose that there is a new market built at Canal Side or another location. Suppose this draws the current vendors from sites like the Clinton-Bailey Market and the Broadway Market away from their stands at these historic markets. Should we turn our heads at the continued decline of these areas because we view them as undesirable in their current state?

  • JM

    Is the sidewalk wavey?

  • WhatRUSmoking

    Bidwell is crappy in what regard? I’ve never been to NT, but I’ve been to Clinton Bailey many times. CB is at least 50% or more of people reselling produce that they’ve bought wholesale somwhere else. Bidwell may be small and limited at times, but that is because each vendor has either grown or produced the product that they are selling. That is why you will never find somebody selling citrus for example, but you can ask each and every person there about their product, and they can tell you exactly where and how it was grown and how it was made.

  • city_girl

    Your comparisons of markets don’t make sense to me. Eastern Market is both a retail and wholesale market. It is part of a market district in which the city of Detroit invested a ton of resources over the past year to upgrade the facility and bring attention to the potential of the market to serve as an anchor for revitalizing a totally distressed neighborhood.
    One of the issues in Buffalo facing both the Clinton-Bailey and Broadway Market is one serves more as a retail and the other as wholesale food terminal. Markets like Eastern Market, West Side Market, and Findley’s Market function as both.
    I love Eastern Market. It was my number one destination when I lived in Detroit. But also I got their early to make sure my car was parked where there were eyes on the street. And, like a lot of sections in Detroit, public transportation really was not an option. The drive to get to the market from Wayne State was depressing, numerous vacant, abandoned buildings. No drive that I have taken in Buffalo compares to the abandonment around Eastern Market 10 years ago.
    Because of the joint public-private effort to revitalize the market district. It is a different story.
    I agree with ColorMeBuff the question is should be turn our heads away from whole neighborhoods? What is the consequence, to me, it would be the City of Detroit ten years ago. Detroit figured out a winning strategy for neighborhood revival in one of the most, distressed urban areas in the country. Why not Buffalo?

  • habilis

    One thing that the Rochester Market, Detroit’s Eastern Market and Cleveland’s West Side market have in common is their proximity to those city’s downtowns. I think that is the biggest obstacle to Clinton Bailey. Other than that it is ideal, it has the right infrastructure, is a historic market location and has a mix of wholesale and retail.
    The Rochester Market has really grown in the last 10 years and attracts a large and diverse group of customers from all over the city and suburbs. It would be great to have something like it in Buffalo. I don’t think Canalside is the answer, a site close to Main st. on the East Side could be a good central location, but maybe starting a new market doesn’t make as much sense as investing in an existing one. I have been to Clinton Bailey and wold go more often if there was more there.

  • grad94

    i’ve been to both the eastern market in detroit and the rochester public market. they both rock.
    i’d like to see bidwell market get its own permanent or year-round home. i don’t know where that might be; you might have ideas.

  • paulsobo

    There are some very big hearted committed people dedicated to the city of Buffalo and its future.
    They dont talk to each other, they dont cooperate with each other and they are all going it alone with their idea of what the future of Buffalo should be and thats why so much languishes and fails.
    First, we must stop the ignorance that we do only things for political reasons and locals. We need to do things that both benefit locals but attract others to our city.
    The Broadway Market would be much better if its facade and streetscape was remodelled back to 1890s. Its a historical venue but 1950s stalingrad is not exactly the most inviting & attractive.
    Downtown is desperate for an urban market and the DL&W 2nd Floor would be perfect. Plus…a light rail extension to the Central Terminal could see the NFTA Maintenance Sheds shifted there opening up the 1st floor as well.
    Ive also suggested that a portion of the Olmsted Parks be opened up to Farmers Markets and the rents used for restoration. It would be a great revenue source for them.
    The thing is…individually…these struggle. Put them under a strategic plan, volunteers, stearing and management committees where best practices can be applied across all of them and the liklihood of success and expansion increases.
    The potential for local entrepreneurs to have 1 place to go for 12 locations, perhaps partner up with the owner of a stall instead of having to manage each location…all of this is far better than them going individually to each location.
    But again…this means…people need to work together, cooperate…have a joint vision….instead each good idea using their own resources and going it alone.

  • paulsobo

    look at EEC’s new medical building…they insist on Williamsville even though the jobs and internships would be blocks away at the Life Sciences Campus.
    No joint cooperation in Buffalo…but its standard practice in rochester.

  • JM
  • New2Buffalo

    I had no idea the Clinton-Bailey Market exists. I’ve been here for 2 years and haven’t heard of it. In this time I’ve heard of and been to other markets in other cities. Hmm.. looks like they need to step up their game! I’ll have to check it out. I like the idea of the city investing in at least one of the sites… Broadway Market or Clinton-Bailey Market in order to make a destination market in Buffalo. I don’t think this should stop the folks doing smaller markets in Williamsville Village/Bidwell/etc. Those are great for those neighborhood folks and weekend shoppers to walk over and get fresh food products. The bigger market still needs to exist too because not every neighboorhood has a little farmers market of their own. In Los Angeles there are Farmer’s Markets in various “villages” or “neighborhoods” and then there are of course larger regional markets that draw larger crowds. There’s room for both. All on a smaller scale here of course but definitely enough people and farm fresh food/local made goods that there should be one large unified market here. Is there anyone out there trying to get the city to help them do such a thing???

  • Dan

    If anything, the Clinton-Bailey Market needs to update their Web site.
    “Spring is Here!!
    It’s time to plant those gardens!
    Spring is a colorful time at the clinton Bailey Market. Come enjoy the seemingly endless varieties of flowers, bushes, trees, fruit and vegetable plants.”
    Maybe they’re just five months early.
    Of course, the sign includes Buffalo’s Favorite Font ™, Brush Script.

  • burbsarenotbuffalo

    Bidwell is crappy in that they have rules that are far too strict, and don’t carry much of the produce that people would expect when they go to a farmers market BECAUSE of those rules. This results in far less vendors, almost zero competition, which means that the prices are always higher. I’ve always seen that farmers market as more of a gimmick than a legit farmers market- as anyone who has been to a REAL public market can attest to (See: Rochester, Detroit, etc)

  • Dan

    Let’s compare Web sites:
    Cleveland: West Side Market –
    Clean, modern design; contemporary logo. Not a fan of the “click to enter” gateway page.
    Detroit: Eastern Market –
    A bit cluttered, but comprehensive.
    Rochester: Public Market –
    Part of the City’s Web site. Nice logo, but a tired “let’s get everything onto one long page” design.
    Buffalo: Clinton-Bailey Market –
    “Spring is Here!!”. Spring 1999, considering the design.
    Buffalo: Broadway Market –
    Meh. As unappealing as the structure they’re in. That old pullcart logo, too.

  • rb09

    I’m also a huge fan of the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto.

  • buffdude

    What about a market in the DL&W Terminal? They can put tables along the water for eating. With its close proximity to the Edward Cotter Fireboat, it could help make the boat more of a “destination”. The building reminds me of Cleveland’s West Side Market.

  • LouisTully

    DL&W would be an awesome place for a lot of things.

  • LouisTully

    er, a lot of things other than just a Metro service depot with a fortress-like fence around it.

  • laldm

    Great downtowns alone don’t make great cities, but a great city cannot exist without a great downtown. Downtown is the first piece of the puzzle and investment in the neighborhoods will follow.

  • ivan putski jr

    Detroit….Come for the gun fights, stay for the farmers markets

  • whatever

    A difference between Rochester’s market vs Broadway is it’s open much fewer days and hours except around holidays.
    “Days and Hours of Operation
    – Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. year-round
    – Saturdays from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. year-round.
    – The Market is open some additional days and hours before and after holidays, and for special events”
    “The Market is opened year round, Monday – Saturday, 8 AM – 5 PM”
    Rochester – 3 days open, 24 hrs total / week
    Broadway – 6 days open, 54 hrs total / week
    That might help Rochester’s market in attracting year-round vendors by requiring less staffing for days/hours when maybe there wouldn’t be many customers.

  • Travelrrr

    I, too, was in Detroit (semi) recently, and came to the exact same conclusion: the Clinton-Bailey Market has a lot of the same feel as Detroit’s, and, if marketed and programmed correctly, could become a similar attraction. Bring some music, art, LIFE down to that space…and blow out the marketing. Maybe, just maybe, we could get the city behind the concept to provide some infrastructural support (shuttles from Downtown, etc.)
    I also agree that the Bdwy market is too niche focused, and should really try to attract a broader spectrum of vendors.

  • Little Z

    I’m not saying this to be a jerk or anything, but I really thought the Clinton-Baily market was closed. I haven’t heard a word about it since I came back to Buffalo 5 years ago, and when I drove by there, it looked like a ghost town. In fact, I was just reminiscing with my parents about getting our Christmas trees there when I was a kid.

  • The Boss

    I don’t think Canalside is the answer…might be a little late, a public food market is the centerpiece of the entire development. There is a current effort underway to sign on vendors and financing is pretty much in place. The marketplace is more than likely going to be a bit more of mix of farmers, retailers and food kiosks so it will not compete directly with the more rustic Clinton-Baily or the number of farmers markets. Frim what I have seen in the plans the Public Marketplace at Canalside might also satisfy the grocery store quandry.

  • sobuffbillsfan

    One thing about putting a market downtown is that it doesn’t seem to allow for a “food district” as being described here to take shape as easily. Low rent, space and easy access for trucks etc. seem to be important as well.

  • rb09

    The city of Buffalo should and could turn the Clinton-Bailey market into what they have in Rochester.
    But it takes leadership. Something that seems to be hard to find in City Hall… Hello, Byron ?
    The Rochester Public Market is operated by the city of Rochester and is self-supporting through vendors’ fees and other market revenue. Because of the market’s success, Rochester’s Market District has been the focus of development, attracting over $60 million in public and private investment.
    Between January and August 2012, over $250,000 worth of fresh produce was purchased at the Rochester Public Market with EBT tokens provided to Food Stamp (SNAP) customers. Fifty percent of these customers report eating more fruits and vegetables because of the token program offered at the market.
    At least 70 market vendors are local farmers selling produce grown on their farms directly to consumers. Some farm families have been selling at the Rochester Public Market for four generations. Locally grown produce that can be found at the market on a fall day includes potatoes, onions, leeks, cauliflower, broccoli, beets, greens, winter squash, and fruit such as apples, pears and grapes. Also available are meats, eggs, dairy products, and baked goods along with items such as syrup, wine, honey and preserves.
    The Rochester Public market is visited by 3,500-plus school children on field trips each year to learn about food, and countless parents take advantage of the market as well, making it a family tradition. “On our first visit to the Rochester Public Market my son said, ‘I didn’t know lettuce grew in a ball!’” shared one voter in America’s Favorite Farmers Market contest. “He was used to the pre-washed bagged lettuce at the grocery store. I now bring my sons every Saturday. They pick out their own fruits and vegetables which I have no problem getting them to eat.”