Heirloom Farmers Markets Loses St. Philips To Newcomers FoodInRoot

Effective Monday, June 23, FoodInRoot Management will take over operations of St. Philips Plaza’s flagship weekend farmers markets, cutting short Heirloom Farmers Markets’ fifteen-year reign. FoodInRoot, which has been in business since April of 2012 and runs several farmers markets in Tucson, was notified of the successful bid late Friday afternoon.

The change comes following an opening for the management and operational duties of St. Philips Plaza’s weekly farmers market, which was triggered by the discovery of Heirloom’s ongoing development of a competing market space at Rillito Downs Park, located less than two miles from St. Philips. Prior to the bidding, an agreement between Heirloom and St. Philips Plaza LLC could not be reached, forcing St. Philips to pursue other options to, as FoodInRoot’s co-founder Clayton Kammerer said, “protect its brand.”

In a foodie version of the age-old “Master vs. Apprentice” tale, Kammerer was an apprentice of Heirloom founder Manish Shah for 18 months following his graduation from the UA Eller College of Management program in 2011. In the fall of 2012, Kammerer broke out on his own and formed FoodInRoot.

“I could not be more grateful for the knowledge and expertise he has shown me. I learned from the best. I wish him, his staff, and all vendors of Heirloom Farmers’ Markets the greatest success in their endeavors,” said Kammerer.

st philips plaza farmers market

Along with FoodInRoot Managing Director Jared Keen, Kammerer runs farmers markets at The Loft Cinema, Tucson Medical Center, University of Arizona Medical Center, El Con Mall, the Eastside Santa Fe Square, and has recently launched the 4th Avenue Food Fest on Friday evenings with CakeLab bakery.

All current vendors at St. Philips are welcome to keep their existing spaces, and every effort will be made to accommodate previous arrangements with Heirloom, said Kammerer, who met with the vendors at St. Philips Plaza early Saturday morning to announce the new arrangement. Some individuals were reached Friday evening via phone or email.

While Heirloom uses a flat-rate plan to charge its vendors, FoodInRoot operates on a percentage-based system, which Kammerer describes as a fairer “Share the Pain, Share the Gain” setup, only charging vendors 10% of their total sales, with a regressive percentage as vendors’ sales increase.

farmer market tomatoes

Kammerer says FoodInRoot will offer the same level of service and quality that St. Philips Plaza farmers market’s vendors and customers have come to expect through the years. Kammerer also said he plans to seek out new marketing avenues to increase St. Philips’ overall reach, maximize available space, and offer more opportunities to newcomers. In addition, St. Philips vendors will not be required to participate in FoodInRoot’s other farmers markets around Tucson.

Full text of the letter St. Philips Plaza farmers market vendors received this morning:

Dear Vendor:

St. Philips Plaza LLC has reached an agreement with FoodInRoot Management LLC to operate, manage, and market the farmers’ markets held at St. Philips Plaza, becoming effective Monday, June 23, 2014. The current operator of the St. Philips Plaza farmers’ markets, Heirloom Farmers’ Markets, has opted to pursue other endeavors at another location within close proximity of the plaza, and abdicate the use of the St. Philip’s brand. In the interest of preserving the quality of one of Southern Arizona’s greatest, most well know farmers’ markets, St. Philips Plaza LLC and FoodInRoot Management LLC will work together to continue the St. Philip’s Farmers’ Market in its current state, in term of operations, on a weekly basis. All vendors who currently participate in the market can and are encouraged to continue to do so. FoodInRoot Management will work to ensure that all existing vendors will have the option of continuing their space assignment, and will work to ensure that preferences and other arrangements with the previous operators also be considered.

The staff of FoodInRoot Management has every intention of not only preserving the qualities of the market that have made it the flagship farmers’ market in Tucson for over a decade, but we are dedicated to improving the market to offer vendors and their customers a better environment and overall experience.

A few things that FoodInRoot Management will do:

  • Implement a marketing plan that leverages existing markets to create further awareness through new channels
  • Increase the number of target markets to better reach customers through new avenues
  • Offer complementary and automatic risk mitigation and insurance coverage to every vendor of any FoodInRoot Management market or event ($1M incident / $2M aggregate)
  • Provide a market “token system” that does not charge a fee to customers or vendors, increasing vendor selling power and customer buying power
  • Allow more opportunities for vendors to promote and grow their business by providing new venues in underserved locations
  • Manage composition, competitive balance, and market saturation to ensure that all vendors have the best opportunity to succeed and grow
  • Provide immediate eligibility for vendors to all current and future events operated by FoodInRoot Management

FoodInRoot believes in a scalable business approach, regardless of the type of business model of its vendors. Using our business model, sound marketing strategy, business acumen, industry experience, and clear access to capital, every vendor has the opportunity to grow their business with FoodInRoot Management’s platform. It the fiduciary duty of FoodInRoot Management to ensure that its vendors are treated fairly with honesty and transparency, and that no individual will ever be treated in a way that directly or indirectly impacts their ability to succeed.

On behalf of FoodInRoot Management, I personally welcome any questions regarding this letter and any information contained within, and look forward to the opportunity of not only creating greater success for you and your business, but sustaining it in the future for many years to come. If you wish to contact me directly, please feel free to do so at: clayton@foodinroot.com or 520.261.6982. I will also be on site Saturday and Sunday at St. Philip’s Plaza from 7am – 12pm at both markets to answer questions about the transition.

Sincerely, with best regards,

Clayton Kammerer

Founder, FoodInRoot Management



TucsonScene James is downtown with his ear to the ground. Covering music - and now food – from the bygone Grill to the future five-star Mariott, you can keep up with him on Facebook and Twitter.