The Capital Region Welcome Center off the New York State Highway in New Baltimore works with several Columbia County and Greene County businesses to sell their products.
Sarah Roberts, store manager of the Taste New York store at the Welcome Center, spoke at a meeting of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors’ Economic Development Committee on Monday.
“Obviously the last two years of the pandemic have been tough for retail,” Roberts said. “But we were fortunate to be able to use our resources with Taste and Ag and Markets to support local suppliers through this. We look forward to a busy summer season here.
Since the store opened in 2018, it has worked with more than 180 farms and small businesses, Roberts said.
Roberts expects more growth through 2022, based on sales and trends so far this year.
“Last year when I came in, one of our challenges was the closing of the New Baltimore rest area across the street,” Roberts said. “So you can only access Taste New York from the north side of the Thruway, which is great because we see a lot of people traveling north on the weekends, and the Adirondacks and Saratoga, which we think will increase our sales considerably.
Signage on the Thruway has been a bit confusing for visitors, Roberts said. She said the problem was resolved in November and the center has seen a significant increase in sales since then.
“We hope to host our first farmers market at the center this summer, June through October, with rotating vendors from Columbia and Greene County,” Roberts said. “We are working to get this approved by the Thruway. I hope everything goes well and we can present many products like fruits and vegetables. »
If the farmers market is up and running this summer, Roberts told supervisors she hopes they all come to check it out.
“We currently work with 20 Columbia County salespeople in our store,” Roberts said. “We have sellers from all over New York State and Columbia County certainly has, I would say, the largest presence of any county in New York State in our stores.”
There are great options for sellers in Columbia and Greene County, Roberts said. Three of the stores’ four deli vendors, for fresh sandwiches, pasta salads and baked goods, are Columbia County vendors such as Old Chatham Country Store, Love Apple Farm and Our Daily Bread.
“All of these things are consistently top sellers in the store,” Roberts said. “And some of those vendors our store has worked with since opening in 2018.”