Last Summer, Potosi/ Tennyson's Chamber of Commerce members opened an inclusive market to showcase Potosi/ Tennyson locals, transients and their businesses. The market, which collaborates with Cassville, was located in the parking lot of Saints Andrew-Thomas Catholic School. The Potosi / Tennyson Driftless Gate Market' is a place where families in the community can buy and sell fresh produce, crafts, artwork, household goods, and all sorts of other products.
The market is also an efficient way for the community and others passing through to meet new people and the small businesses they have built. For the people who sign up for the market, whether that means volunteer work or becoming a vendor, there are endless opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to show what they can do, and to influence and gain inspiration from other booths or small business owners from all across the area.
Progress In a Time Crunch
The market is managed by Sheila Udelhofen. Her role is to make sure that the market runs smoothly. “I coordinate volunteers, schedules, market meetings, vendor locations, and communications with volunteers and vendors.” As the market overseer, she also keeps in contact with the Potosi/ Tennyson Chamber of Commerce “for all things farmer’s market related.”
When the idea for the Driftless Gate Market was proposed, it was a simple idea. “It started out as a conversation with our neighboring friends from the village of Cassville, as well as Tracy Fishnick, who is the manager for the Cassville Market,'' said Sheila. “After that, a committee for the Potosi/ Tennyson Driftless Gate Market was formed.” This however, would only leave them five weeks to open the market, which according to Sheila, was no easy task. But with the help of the Driftless Gate Committee and the volunteers, they were able to converse and plan every detail of the market. This would include the style of vendors, rules and regulations, music and electricity resources, and reaching out to people from a marketing standpoint.
The Market Turnout
Once the market was open to the community, it became an area for small business owners from all over the area to showcase their work and for others to indulge in what they had to offer. For Sheila, the market was all for the benefit of our community. “The purpose of the Potosi/ Tennyson Driftless Gate Market is to provide a useful variety of farmer’s market products,” she said. Products include baked goods, flowers, handmade crafts, and more, brought to our communities in an effort to bring more tourism to what Sheila calls “our beautiful driftless Potosi and Tennyson areas.”
The demographic for the market seemed to be anyone who was interested in joining to find out what kind of event the Driftless Gate Market would turn out to be. I was glad to find that some of the people who chose to sign up as vendors were students of the highschool.
At the market, Nova White, a Potosi sophomore, sells her wood burning products. Her business, called Nova White Wood Burning, sells high quality items which include engraved spoons, bowls, necklaces, earrings, charcuterie boards, and custom orders. Nova puts a lot of time, personality, and detail into her work. “I really try to prioritize the customer and their needs. I make sure to get the design down to the font, spacing, and scale of the design, always checking in with the client.” Nova was grateful for the market because it was a good way for her to build her small business. “Going to the market was the highlight of my week,” she said. “I would wake up early, pack up my products and set up. The market was just a good learning experience and helped me start selling my products” she said.
Signing up to sell at the Driftless Gate Market is a good way to learn time management, and get comfortable with selling face to face. It helps you in developing a relationship with potential customers. For any questions you may have about Nova’s business, you can contact her through her Instagram account.
For the people who sell their products at the market, the process can be busy, but for the people who come to purchase these goods it can make all the difference in their day. “I was impressed with the amount of people who took the time out of their day to stop at the market and see what’s for sale,” said Nova.
Sheila says, “This type of event allows folks to begin their day at the farmer’s market in their own communities - have a little bite for breakfast, morning coffee, or specialty drinks, while passing through other communities and other local excursions.”
When the market first opened there were people coming from miles around to see what the it had to offer. Looking at the attendance record of the markets, Sheila has recognized the diversity of the people at the market. “I personally have seen visitors from Dubuque, Cassville, Dickeyville, Cuba City, Platteville, Hazel Green, and other local communities, as well as visitors from the campgrounds and people passing through Potosi/ Tennyson in their travels,” she said.
Lily Zenz, another Potosi sophomore, knits handmade multi-use washrags and sells them at the Driftless Gate Market alongside her friend Jessica Klas, a 2019 Potosi graduate, who sews wallets, key fobs, and tote bags. At the market they operate under the business titles Handmade by Lily and Red Dog Designs, respectively. For Lily, the market was a way for her to earn extra cash and have fun doing it. “At the market, we share a booth together. We set up our table and prepare our products for the customers,” she said. Afterward, they each keep their own profit and do it all over again when the next market event comes.
Both Nova and Lily show that their success in the market comes with time and effort. In Lily’s case, she started knitting a few years ago after being taught by a former babysitter. She began selling her product at Potosi’s Back Home for Christmas, and then again at the Cassville and Potosi/ Tennyson Markets. Nova took a class in Galena in 4th grade, and then became more skilled in her work with time.
For the Potosi/ Tennyson Driftless Gate Market, what started out as a small suggestion turned out to be a proficient way to bring an abundance of products, eutrepraneurs and consumers of all kinds to our area. According to Sheila and the Driftless Gate Market Committee “there has been discussions on what future markets will look like.” For now, their main focus seems to be improvement with every successful market year.
Those who worked on the creation of the Potosi/ Tennyson Driftless Gate Market, including those on the Potosi/ Tennyson Chamber of Commerce and the Volunteer Committee, should be congratulated on their success in the last market, and we wish them continued growth in the coming years.