An online farmers market providing weekly deliveries of fresh local produce, meats, cheeses and other homegrown or homemade fare is now in Butler County and serving homes throughout Southwest Ohio.
Market Wagon, which launched in Indiana in 2016, recently opened its first Ohio delivery hub in West Chester Twp.
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The new Market Wagon location delivers to homes in Butler, Warren, Hamilton, Montgomery, Greene and Clermont counties, according to Jeremy Lewis, Southwest Ohio market coordinator for Market Wagon.
“All the vendors control their own inventory, products, descriptions and photos,” Lewis said. “What we do is basically act as a courier and just kind of a marketplace for them to do so.”
Customers placing an order Tuesday night before midnight receive a delivery on Thursday for a $5.95 fee with no minimum order and no subscription required.
Shoppers can peruse the website — swo.marketwagon.com — by vendor or by category, including everything from baked goods, meats and locally roasted coffee to jams, soaps and pet treats.
The convenience of home delivery is crucial to the Market Wagon’s appeal, but its true economic impact comes in the increased market for local farmers, the company said.
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To date, the new location has 23 Ohio farms and artisans signed up as vendors.
Debra Liston, owner of Fairfield-based business Mwimbula Fresh Coffee • Fresh Bread, said sales of her custom-roasted single-source coffee and freshly baked, naturally leavened breads and pastries have grown for each of the five weeks she has sold via Market Wagon.
“This is guaranteed sales,” she said. “Since they (customers) order, I know exactly what to make and I sell it, where like at a farmers market, I might show up with 20 loaves of bread and sell seven and then I’ve got 13 loaves of bread to deal with. That’s what makes it (Market Wagon) super-attractive.”
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Tiffany Shinkle, of New Vienna-based TS Farms, said Market Wagon has been great for serving longtime patrons, and has generated a slew of new customers for the 10-year-old family farm that sells fresh, grass-fed, non-GMO beef, lamb and pork, plus chicken, turkey, eggs, jams, jellies and maple syrup.
Shinkle said she believes the concept is taking off in Southwest Ohio because consumers are leaning toward services that offer convenience.
“Kroger’s got their ClickList, Whole Foods will deliver, and we’re seeing at farmers markets the attendance is down,” she said. “I think it’s because they can order it online and get it delivered or pull in, pick it up and go.”
Vendors do not pay a fee to participate in Market Wagon, but the company retains a percentage of sales, Lewis said.
The handmade meat, cheese, mushroom and butternut squash ravioli from Russo's Ravioli are in 14 stores and five weekly farmers markets, but co-owner Garrison Jennings said he is happy to find another platform from which to sell the company's hand-made Italian specialty dish, along with its sauces and lasagnas.
“It gives you another revenue stream,” Jennings said. “Plus, who doesn’t like awesome food showing up right to their doorstep?”