It was October 15th, 2008 and we were just about to open Ferndale Market for the very first time. Somehow, just before opening, we realized that our credit card processor wasn’t working. I called our local phone service technician (yes, our early credit card terminal ran on a dial up phone line), and he came right out. Soon he was laying underneath our cash register and had the problem fixed. He then grabbed a Spring Grove Soda from the cooler, and became our very first paying customer.

That’s how it all began. Looking back, I’m amazed at how little we knew. We’d never run a retail business, much less one carrying perishable foods. We’d only hired one retail clerk. We’d searched the Minnesota Grown Directory for local foods to carry, and relied on our network of fellow farmers to help identify the right products. I’d probably never heard of kombucha, and I certainly couldn’t have fathomed how many honey sticks we’d sell in the coming 10 years.

Yes, we know a little more today than we did then, and some things have changed in the world of local foods since 2008. Thankfully, many of the changes have been positive, with far more local food options, and significantly increased consumer interest in food and farming. And yet our vision at Ferndale Market remains as clear and simple as it was when we opened. We still believe that everybody benefits when shoppers have a chance to reconnect with distinctive local foods directly from independent farmers and food makers. We haven’t strayed from this original mission, and, in fact, my belief in its importance has only been strengthened as we’ve witnessed more consolidation in the world of big food. We’ve always wanted to do something different.

I’m confident Ferndale Market is a better store in 2018 than it was on Opening Day, and I thank you for giving us the chance to learn and evolve. We’re incredibly proud that our mix has grown to include foods from over 100 local farmers and food makers, and our own Ferndale turkey offerings have expanded along the way. We’re here because you see the difference in our products, both on the farm and in the market.

I hope you’ll join us to toast to 10 years on Saturday, October 6th. I’ll be tending the grill with our complimentary turkey hot dogs, and I hope I’ll have a chance to thank you for your support. We’ll hope the credit card processor cooperates this time around.