Much has been said of Fleur’s many contributions in the field of music, all of it richly deserved as is the tremendous role she played as a teacher of many young fiddlers. The community will harvest a wealth of future musical talent from the many seeds she sowed with her ability to connect with young students and teach them much about music and life.
The analogy of planting seeds and harvesting is quite intentional. I want to write a few words about Fleur’s role as manager of the Farmers Market. Her father, Roger, mentioned to me as I went through the lineup at the deCoste about how Fleur really loved that job and how excited she always was about the Farmers Market.
While I’m not directly involved with the market other than as a vendor when filling in for my son, I am keenly interested in it for its value to the agricultural community and many other smaller local producers. I also appreciate its great value as a supplier of quality local products in a single location, not to mention the tremendous social value as a gathering centre.
When it was first announced that Fleur would be the manager of the market in early 2013, I have to admit I was a bit surprised. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one as we all knew Fleur for the reasons mentioned above but wondered where the connection was with managing a Farmer’s Market. I’m sure we all wished her and the market well but took a bit of a ‘wait and see’ attitude.
Well, of course, she “blew it out of the water.” As her father said, “She loved it” and the customers and the market loved and respected her. The Market thrived and expanded with a long waiting list of vendors and huge happy crowds of buyers. I think the much-anticipated expansion this coming season was spurred in no small part by Fleur’s enthusiasm and faith in her community and the vendors.
What made Fleur a perfect person for this role when she seemed an unlikely fit? Number one, Fleur was very much a people person and the job very much requires that. You have to be able to deal with all sorts of people both as vendors and buyers and keep smiling all the while. She was a master at that.
Number two, I’ve always believed that retailing any product is as much about entertainment as it is about doing business. Years ago, markets and market day were all about socializing and entertaining. We have lost a lot of that today. Modern shopping is all about flyers, make the best deal we can and move on. Well, Fleur knew all about entertaining and expanded on what had been started by earlier managers to make the market a very entertaining and sociable experience. No surprise there.
Thirdly, and the one that surprised me, was Fleur’s business acumen and her ability to be tough when it was required. I know she worked closely with the board of directors to set policies and procedures that were fair and meant to improve service to the customers. Underneath that beaming smile was an inner toughness that probably surprised many but that toughness was a necessary requirement if you’re going to run a business, especially one that involves so many people working together. Did she upset some people? Surely, when you enforce the rules, not everybody is going to be happy. Overall, she earned the respect of her vendors, the love and admiration of customers and the appreciation and thanks of her board of directors and the markets partners and funding bodies.
Let there be no doubt Fleur was multi-talented and that the New Glasgow Farmers Market was a big beneficiary of one of her hidden talents. I am confident the market will continue to grow and thrive and we will all remember the lovely smiling face with the inner toughness that was such a big part of fostering this success and the success of ‘her’ community.
Central West River