The Market Hub

Pry Family Quilt

Some Farmers, Some Artists, All Neighbors is what this unique farmer’s market has brought to North Hagerstown.

By Jennifer Mellace, Photos by Turner Photography

Understanding community and the importance of sustaining it is what makes a community thrive. In North Hagerstown there sits a 3-story refurbished bank barn that is doing just this—helping sustain a thriving and diverse community. The Market Hub, conceived by owner Jill Hudson, is home to 103 local vendors, including bakers, horticulturists, painters, meat and veggie farmers, and numerous other makers. The slogan—Some Farmers, Some Artists, All Neighbors—is exactly what Hudson envisioned when she opened the market.

Originally renovated and opened as an event facility with a commercial kitchen in November 2012, Hudson’s The Barn at the View was an event space for 15 years. Then COVID struck and Hudson’s business was closed down for a year. While she did what she could to get grants and reopen, even partially, the business didn’t fit the mandated criteria and the doors remained closed. Until, Hudson had an idea.

“After meeting farmers at some of the local markets, I had the idea to open the facility as a farmer’s market that I could staff so that the farmers could attend other markets. This model would allow them extra income.”

Hudson started by filling the bank-barn level with vendors, and as the idea grew, she migrated to the second floor. She officially opened as The Market Hub in May 2022, and six months later, all three levels of the barn were full. When coming up with the name and logo, Hudson was sitting at home with her husband and sons. “On a wall at home I have a gigantic wagon wheel. My son suggested using the wheel as our symbol—the hub/center is us, the spokes are the farmers and artists, and the big wheel is the community.” Hudson loved the idea. “It was a symbol of what we can achieve if we all work together. We can become a stronger community.”

Open 9 am to 5 pm on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Hudson’s goal is to showcase the talent within Hagerstown and the surrounding community. “Artists are getting known and the community is understanding that we have a lot of talent in the north end of Hagerstown.”

In addition to the artists, The Market Hub also has food trucks and starting July 1, Hudson is opening an international food court in the basement. The idea was sparked when she had a Mexican vendor make rosettes or fried cookies that were coated with cinnamon and sugar. Hudson remembered the cookies from her childhood but not with cinnamon. “Then I had a Russian customer tell me that they used to make the same cookies coated in maple syrup and honey,” says Hudson. “One cookie sparked the idea to have a pot luck where five different countries are represented and each month one country is highlighted—June will be Greece, July is the United States of America, and August is TBD.”

Leslie Hart, the Business Development Specialist for Agriculture, Hospitality, and Tourism in Washington County, is thrilled with what Hudson has created. “When COVID hit, Jill had to rethink her strategy. What started as just bringing a couple famers together has morphed into something huge. Only open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, she’s seeing at least 1,500 customers over those three days,” says Hart.

Hart also recognizes how The Market Hub has given the farming community an advantage. “When a farmer attends a farmer’s market, there are hours of prep before the market, then hours at the market, and more time to unload once they’re home. One farmer’s market takes a full day. The Market Hub has given time back to local farmers, which gives them more opportunities to expand into other markets and grow their product line.”

Hudson just asks the farmers, bakers, and other vendors to drop off their fresh produce and then Hudson and her staff take care of everything else. At the end, Hudson cuts a check back to the vendor. “I’m a huge proponent of buying local,” she says. “Buying local has a domino effect.”

Several vendors have been with Hudson since the beginning, including Dana Crespo, maker of Cedarwood Soaps. “I’m so proud to be one of the original vendors,” she says. “Jill has created a wonderful place that showcases a wide variety of local produce, handcrafted items, baked goods, food, and more. I always encourage my local customers to go there to see and purchase my full product line and to also check out all of the other amazing local products that are available. It’s a win-win for local vendors and the local community.”

Ellen Matheny and her husband Jim own Stonewall Angus and offer all-natural Black Angus beef raised on their farm with no growth hormones or steroids. Since the Market Hub opened, they’ve brought a variety of steaks, all-beef hotdogs, Korean ribs, and more to The Market Hub. They also offer custom orders, which can be picked up at the market.

“Jill is the most accommodating person I’ve ever met,” says Matheny. “We’re so glad she’s provided this for Washington County. She has always been dedicated to agriculture and ‘buy local’ has been her slogan and ours.”

While The Market Hub was created to offer a place for purchasing local goods, it’s also presented an opportunity for vendors to share ideas and forge partnerships. “The camaraderie that exits between all the vendors at The Market Hub is fantastic,” says Hart. “They share tips and ideas and partner with each other to serve customers. The impact it has had on the vendors and the community is amazing. Hudson has created a location that puts more local ag in consumer hands in one convenient location. The farmers have had to compete with the grocery stores, but here is a local way to get it all—milk, cheese, meat, baked goods, ice cream, arts, food trucks. You name it. It’s an amazing place that just keeps growing.”

Smitty’s Snack has been with The Market Hub from the beginning and offers more than 60 flavors of peanuts, popcorn, candy, sunflower seeds, and seed kernels. “We do 12 farmer’s markets and events every weekend in the tri-state area,” says owner Dan Smith. “But we have three racks at The Market Hub where we offer 2.5-ounce snack packs and 8-ounce packs and we have a flavor of the month—July is wasabi and August is curry.” September will be a completely new release when Smitty’s partners with Palmyra Farms, another Market Hub vendor to create something special.

“The vendors all work together and share each other’s products and promote each other,” says Smith. “We’re each a spoke on the wheel that Hudson has created.”

Each of vendors has something unique to offer The Market Hub and Tracey Thomson of Craft TT thanks Hudson and the market for helping her grow and become known. Thomson creates 3D shadow boxes for every occasion, earrings with images that can match clothing specifically, neoprene coasters, glass cutting boards, and a variety of other items. “I cannot say enough about Jill. She has what I call a heart to serve and is not in this for any other reason but to help small businesses grow.”

This desire to help small business owners is reflected in Hudson’s pricing strategy. Vendors only pay for the space they need—they can rent 12-inches or 8-feet and it’s only $10 per foot. She takes no commission and there is no penalty to pull out.

“She truly wants a place where people can grow,” continues Thomson. “Her philosophy is to be a partner, and in addition to not taking a commission she helps with display and marketing needs and offers suggestions to help me be successful. Even talking to other vendors, everyone agrees that she’s been nothing but an angel. She doesn’t even realize the impact she has on other people. She just goes about doing what she does. It’s an amazing place and if you haven’t gone you need to. You won’t be sorry.”

Hudson will tell you—she doesn’t want this to be about her. It’s all about supporting the vendors and creating a vital and welcoming community. “I’m from the “Cheers” generation [the TV show], and I want everyone to feel like Norm when they’re walking in. Everyone is welcome. Hagerstown has so much to offer and so much culture. If we all knew this, we could have much more of a connection. I’m always asking, how can I be a better neighbor? That’s my goal.”

Hagerstown Magazine