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Neighborhood News

Bloomfield Saturday Market Programs

The gray, dreary days spent inside staring at cars go by may feel endless, but they will end. In just a couple of months, the Bloomfield Saturday Market will be back in full swing. 

This past year has been challenging. It feels like a cloud has been hanging over our heads the past year, especially if you’re a small business owner. It’s been hard to watch many of our beloved businesses close and see them bounce back and forth between pandemic-related guidelines they’re expected to follow with little support from the federal government.

Farmers markets have generally been seen in the past as community spaces and a place to shop local. However, this past year opened our eyes to the fact that farmers markets are often very white spaces, and the Bloomfield Saturday Market was no exception. Farmers markets are an essential business that benefit communities by providing access to fresh food, supporting small businesses and farmers, and, in Pittsburgh, supporting SNAP users with a 40% match on their shopping budget. However, these spaces often exclude BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, Person of Color) people, both as shoppers and business owners.

One way we’re working to create a more inclusive and comfortable market is offering two scholarships specifically to BIPOC-owned businesses who are new to the Bloomfield Saturday Market. Offered every season going forward, the scholarship program had a successful trial run at the current winter market. But simply adding BIPOC vendors doesn’t mean that a space is comfortable or even safe. Our staff and board are currently working through anti-racism and inclusion training, and we spend time at the beginning of each market training vendors on what behavior isn’t acceptable and how to handle it. We also spend time at our vendor meetings, held bi-monthly, discussing actions we can take to create a welcoming, safe space.

If you are, or know, a BIPOC-owned business who hasn’t tried a farmers market because the fees were too high or you aren’t sure if it will work for your business model, or are in another market and want to expand, we encourage you to drop us a line with questions and to apply. In 2020 the market drew an average of 1,500 people each week and vendor sales were similar to, or even higher than, their sales in 2019. Our staff have spent years learning best practices around maximizing sales with simple stall layouts and signage and we’ll help however we can. We want to support your business.

Additionally, brick and mortar businesses have also been hit hard by the effects of the pandemic. If you own a business in Bloomfield, you can vend at the Bloomfield Saturday Market up to 3 times this year free of charge. The market brings lots of folks from Bloomfield out of their houses and onto our streets, increasing foot traffic in the main area of the Liberty Avenue business district, but also draws a large amount of shoppers from other neighborhoods and even outside of the city. Several Bloomfield businesses have joined us using this program over the last few years and several have become permanent vendors and many have given us feedback that some people who shop at the market do later visit their store to shop. Market shoppers are dedicated and want to support your small business.
Our application window will close on March 19. If you have any questions, please contact our Market Manager, Abi Gildea, at market@bloomfieldpgh.org or 412.681.8800 ext. 103. If you’re ready to apply today, applications are open.

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Neighborhood News

2020 Year in Review

Like many organizations, when the scale of COVID-19 became apparent in March of 2020 Bloomfield Development Corporation was forced to quickly pivot and adapt in order to keep our staff, board, and neighbors safe. Our staff and board spent countless hours in Zoom meetings and online communication became the norm. Meetings that would normally be a reason to build community and socialize became a learning experience for all of us. While not everything in 2020 went the way we planned, we were able to start new initiatives and find creative ways to support the neighborhood that will continue in 2021 and beyond.

When it became clear that the pandemic required drastic change of our programs, we were less than two months from the beginning of the Bloomfield Saturday Market summer season. The traditional market layout wouldn’t allow for proper social distancing and that many of the more hands-on experiences of the market would have to be modified. Despite the challenges we were committed to offering a safe environment for neighbors to gain access to an essential service, providing local food while also supporting small businesses to whom the Saturday Market income was critical. We redesigned the layout of the market, instituting a one way flow, limiting capacity, and requiring masks in order to keep things as safe as possible. We were able to safely hold the Saturday Market all season serving over 35,000 visitors and having a total of $28,000 in SNAP and Food Bucks spent, a 280% increase over 2019.

In addition to ensuring the market opened on time, our board worked to deepen our organizational commitment to the values of inclusion and equity. A new Intersectional Anti-Racism committee was formed to ensure that every program and project was built on an inclusive, accessible framework, to identify bias and exclusionary practices within BDC, and to restructure and monitor our systems and processes. One of the first projects the committee helped to implement was a new scholarship program for vendors who are Black and People of Color to attend the Bloomfield Saturday Market. Recognizing that farmers markets are traditionally white spaces and the ways in which People of Color have been denied access to capital, our goal is that minority entrepreneurs have an equal opportunity to access the revenue that the Saturday Market can provide. Our first two scholarship recipients joined us in December as vendors for our winter market. The Intersectional Anti-Racism Committee’s next project is hiring a consultant to further the work of BDC’s board and staff to undo white supremacy within our own organization.

As COVID-19 continued to shut down or limit business operations into the Spring we knew that many Bloomfield residents and small businesses were struggling with costs that had become burdensome. In order to provide assistance, BDC launched a Neighbors In Need Fund to offer emergency assistance in the form of small grants. Grants of up to $500 have been used to help cover critical needs such as rent, utilities, and childcare. In total BDC granted approximately $9,000 to 19 neighbors who needed assistance. The Neighbors In Need Fund has continued to operate as additional funds have been raised. 

Despite more people than ever staying at home we know that neighbors still need to travel and that eventually things will return to normal. Before COVID-19 had become a concern, BDC had started to work with Studio for Spatial Practice to develop a set of “mobility principles” for the neighborhood. Instead of the indoor meetings we had planned, a series of outdoor pop-up workshops were held outside of the Bloomfield Saturday Market and Linea Verde. We gathered input from neighbors about their experience travelling in and around Bloomfield while walking, biking, or driving. Using the feedback from neighbors, Studio for Spatial Practice is working to create a set of principles to direct BDC’s advocacy and work around transportation and street design.

Small businesses have struggled during the pandemic. BDC was able to provide over $10,000 in grants to businesses to replace broken equipment and to help take advantage of outdoor space. Additionally, the neighborhoods of Bloomfield, Garfield, and Lawrenceville were awarded a grant from RK Mellon to create a single online business directory and events platform. Launching in February and designed by Bloomfield-based C-leveled, the grant funds will allow us to match gift card purchases to small businesses, host business-promoting events, and increase the visibility of our neighborhoods’ small businesses. These grant funds supported the holiday Bloomfield Blitzin’ and Garfield Glitzin’ promotions that rewarded folks who shopped local with gift cards. BDC and BGC jointly gave away over $1,400 in gift cards, with every person who submitted receipts winning at least one gift card.

A grant from the Urban Redevelopment Authority is supporting the launch of neighborhood subscription boxes, which have grown in popularity over the years for things such as self care and home goods. The first box, to launch in late winter or early spring, will focus on the Penn/Main corridor and bring together items and gift cards from businesses. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve continued to connect our businesses with funding, information, and services, taking pride in quickly responding to their needs.

BDC is here as a resource and source of support for residents and businesses. If you need help getting SNAP benefits, paying for a critical need, navigating a City process or permit, dealing with an issue on your street, expanding your business outside, we’re here for you. You can reach BDC staff at info@bloomfieldpgh.org or 412.681.8800. 

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Neighborhood News

Interview with Joddo, of Bitter Ends

See how Joddo of Bitter Ends took advantage of the Bloomfield Saturday Market:

When we had to close Bitter Ends Luncheonette in March, we were surprised but rather optimistic thinking maybe the shutdown would last a month or two and we’d be back at it. Then I was hit with a reality check, realizing it was going to be much longer than that, and realizing what I had growing in the field or in my cooler was going to rot because this pandemic wasn’t going away anytime soon. 

I took it day by day. I didn’t drastically change anything at first, just made minor adjustments. I then realized that I needed to figure out where my income was going to come from. May-June was full of waste and realizing that I had to sit down and figure what to do in order to survive. June-July was when I began developing a new business plan.

That has looked like home deliveries, the storefront offering pre ordering and take out, and selling my produce at the Bloomfield Saturday Market. 

The market has been my most reliable source of income, and is fun and interesting. Any time I’m there, shoppers are really excited to see what I have to offer. I also think people are interested in seeing the association of what I offer with the menu at the restaurant on Liberty Avenue. Each week that I come back sales get a little better because more and more people remember to buy from me.

The market is high traffic, which is what we’ve been missing on Liberty Avenue during the pandemic. It’s been a really great experience. Shoppers at the market are interested in supporting local, whether you’re a farm or other business – they want to support you. The Bloomfield Saturday Market is unlike any other market in the city, by far the best. It attracts a unique type of shopper and is culturally different from many other markets.

I’d encourage other local businesses to join in on the market. It helps build a larger and new customer base. Shoppers can actually see you, and it really shows you in a different light. It associates your business with a person, which helps humanize your business with a large group of people who are looking for that type of connection.

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Neighborhood News

4731 Juniper St Community Meeting

On December 3rd Bloomfield Development Corporation hosted a community meeting to review the zoning use change required for Pizza Italia to continue operating in the space while they make repairs to their Liberty Ave location. Below you can view the notes from the meeting and see the layout of the space.

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Neighborhood News

Shop Local!

At the end of an unprecedented year comes a holiday season unlike any other. Small businesses are taking a hard hit this year, and Bloomfield Development Corporation needs you to shop local. We’re rewarding you for supporting the small businesses that support our neighborhood! 

November 28-December 20 enter to win!

On Small Business Saturday, BDC launches Bloomfield Blitzin’ to reward customers for shopping in Bloomfield and Garfield.

Go shopping, take a photo or screenshot of your receipt, and send it to BDC.

Order takeout, buying groceries, clothes, or books, buy a gift card, anything! Then send a photo or screenshot of your receipt to business@bloomfieldpgh.org

Every 3 receipts you send, you’re entered into a raffle to win a gift card to a Bloomfield or Garfield business. 

Want a bonus entry? Send us a picture of you with your purchase or with a business sign and tell us what you love about the place, the products, the owners, or the employees. We’ll share your picture and story on social media to encourage others to shop local.

The last day to send receipts is Sun., De, 20. On Mon., Dec. 21, and names will be randomly chosen and notified.

With more than $1,000 in gift cards ready to give away, each one a minimum of $50, odds are good you’ll be a winner. 

This promotion is open to EVERYONE, Bloomfield residents and non-residents alike.

Each entry or receipt needs to be from a different Bloomfield or Garfield business. Email entries to business@bloomfieldpgh.org.


Our thanks to the RK Mellon Foundation for making this initiative possible!