Ardmore resident Janet Long saw an opportunity, several years ago, when she realized there was a shortage of outdoor markets along the Main Line. What started simply enough—the idea to coordinate a small vintage sellers market—has grown into a full-time job for Long, and the project, Clover Market, has gained regional and national exposure.
"Clover was a little bit of a side project that ended up taking over my life," Long laughed, during an interview at MilkBoy Coffee this week.
From start to success
Clover Market, an upscale outdoor market for vintage and handmade goods, has hit Ardmore monthly in the fall and spring months since 2010. After beginning with a group of about 25 vendors two years ago, Clover Market's next Clover Day, to be held Sept. 16, will feature more than 100 vendors—with both vendors and buyers traveling to Ardmore from across the greater Philadelphia region and beyond. Some sellers, Long said, come from as far as New York.
Vendors' products range from antiques to vintage clothing, to upcycled furniture, to original artwork and jewelry. (Take a look at photos from May's Clover Day.)
The market has gained a local following as well as national recognition, including inclusion in Flea Market Style's spring list of "Best Vintage Sales From Coast to Coast"—the only Pennsylvania market recognized.
"I’m always surprised by it," Long said of the recognition. "It's flattering, of course, to be put in that category of great markets to go to, but at end of the day, the way I look at it is the market wouldn’t be what it is without all the vendors who are there. They make it what it is: the quality of the things they bring, what they make, is really what is worthy of that recognition."
No doubt, the Clover vendors bring some amazing products to the market (check out Clover Market's Facebook page for a sneak peek at some of this year's vendors). But Long, too, deserves much credit for bringing her vision to life—especially given the years-long process of identifying a location for the market, obtaining the necessary permits, growing a list of vendors, and marketing the event.
"After years, literally years, of planning it and going to commissioner meetings and getting neighbors and friends to sign petitions—to see it actually come to fruition, to stand in that parking lot and see the vendors come together [for the first time], was a dream," Long recalled.
Now that the market has grown—from 25 vendors its first month to now, more than 100—Long's job has shifted from primarily recruiting vendors to managing them and publicizing the market, she said.
Nonetheless, it's a full time job. Long says she hasn't gone a day without working since the market started, and especially now, in the week leading up to a Clover Day, there's a lot of prep work to be done. On the day of the market, she's always on her feet, along with an army of committed volunteers.
That group of dedicated folk include Bryn Mawr Farmers Market coordinator Pat Norton, and a bevy of volunteers from Six:Eight Community Church, who help unload the 200 cars that show up the morning of each Clover Day. "The market would not happen if they weren't involved," Long said.
Breathing life into Ardmore business
Clover Market is truly a community effort—and it benefits not only the vendors, but also the Ardmore businesses nearby, said Christine Vilardo, president of the Ardmore Initiative, Ardmore's business district authority that partnered with Long to bring the market to Ardmore.
"[Clover Market] is fabulous for Ardmore,” Vilardo said. “Janet has done an amazing job of it; she’s grown it really intelligently and done a wonderful job of vendor selection.”
Not all, but some of Ardmore's downtown businesses have chosen to stay open on Clover Days, Vilardo said, and many of those businesses are finding that market days are some of their best days for sales. Ardmore restaurants, too, have seen a huge boom due to Clover Market.
"Particularly since last year, when the market really exploded, you can’t find a parking spot in Ardmore—which is a good thing, because so many people are here," Vilardo said. "It’s been nothing but positive for Ardmore and for our businesses."
A dream job
Long, who has worked in advertising at Leo Burnett in Chicago, served as marketing director of a consulting firm and worked as a designer, says her job at Clover Market draws in many of the aspects of her previous jobs that she enjoyed.
But best of all, working from home allows her the flexibility to pursue her other big passion: being mom to her 9- and 11-year-old boys. "I drop off and pick up my kids from school every day—having my own business really allowed me to accomplish that," she said.
Sure, being a self-proclaimed soccer mom, maintaining involvement in her kids' schooling and working full-time hours for Clover Market is a lot. And yes, it may occasionally lead to some midnight work sessions after the kids are in bed.
"But I love it," Long said. "For me, it's not work."
Clover Market returns to Ardmore for the fall season on Sunday, Sept. 16. The market runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the 12 E. Lancaster Ave. parking lot in Ardmore, rain or shine. For more details on the upcoming Clover Day, visit the Clover Market website, and check back with Patch next week for a preview.
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