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Entrepreneur Runs Indoor, Year-Round Farmers’ Market

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BRUNSWICK, Md. (AP) — Beth Johnson was instrumental in opening Urbana Library Farmers Market, which recently completed a successful first year in a new location.

Johnson is taking her entrepreneurial skills one step further.

She recently opened A Better Choice Bakery and Market — an indoor year-round farmers market on West Potomac Street in Brunswick.

“This one is inside and open all year round, or at least when I see how things have gone after the first six-month period,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the new venture’s mission is to give people a venue to earn a side income or test the waters with something they may have wanted to do.

“People may have a desire to make candy, craft or something different, but are wary about it in this economy,” Johnson said.

So far, 15 vendors have signed up and Johnson is hoping for more. The vendors offer goat and dairy cheeses, honey, beeswax and other candles, baked goods, organic eggs and beef, quilts and stitched items, apple butter, herbal tinctures, maple syrup, herbs, household plants and soaps and creams.

Other vendors will be joining the market soon with dog treats and pork.

“I would love to see a couple of wineries, butter, milk and other unique items, too, that fall under market rules,” Johnson said.

The vendors pay a flat rate per month, name their prices, go through the health department, if required, and decide on sales.

“So the market is the result of their efforts and mine as well,” Johnson said. “We all cover the rent and expenses without monthly fees.”

Johnson has a commercial refrigerator and freezer onsite.

“I would love to carry produce when it comes into season, but that’s a whole other ball of health department wax I’m not yet ready for,” Johnson said.

When Johnson’s last permit to open shop was approved Nov. 10, she used social media for publicity.

“I posted on Facebook and it’s gone up from there. Reaction from the public has been extremely positive,” she said. “Once they know I’m there and that it’s seven days a week, people respond.”

Johnson has become known in local circles for her pastries, baked without gluten. Brownies are her specialty, she said.

She is looking forward to working with Brunswick’s downtown businesses, which she said are strong and supportive of each other.

“I’m surrounded by an art and frame shop, children’s consignment shop, a salon, antique shops, a bait and tackle shop, shoe store and a knit shop, anchored by Beans in the Belfry coffee shop and the Railroad Museum,” Johnson said. “These are all very specific destination businesses to bring people downtown and give them a reason to stay for a couple hours. It’s nice to be part of a full-time team.”

A Better Choice Bakery and Market is benefiting from word-of-mouth advertising by other business owners and Johnson said she returns the favor.

“It’s really a nice group effort. Now you can buy very unique presents for anyone and groceries as well,” Johnson said. “We’re doing our best to have you shop locally.”

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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