Pearl Market vendors share what led them to their current profession.
For some, replacing scrubs with a bee suit or Wall Street with Canal Winchester is the perfect decision. At Columbus' Pearl Market, now halfway through its annual summer run in Downtown's Pearl Alley, owners of two stallshave done just that.
Joe Sadowsky and David Casto lived in New York City, working in sales on Wall Street and as a housewares buyer for Dean & DeLuca, the upscale grocery chain. Seven years ago, they sought a fresh start away from the city—one that included farming.
“We started questioning our lives when we were living in New York,” says Sadowsky. “We lived a crazy life.”
The lifestyle change brought with it a learning curve.
“The closest thing I got to a garden was putting the divots back on the golf courses I played. … We just kind of put a spade in the ground and started digging and here we are,” he says.
Now, Fornof Farm Market is a successful business known for its unique produce. Sadowsky says his former career, though, has come in handy.
“I was in sales when I lived in New York. That's rolled right over into what we're doing. Instead of hedging a portfolio, I want you to buy my eight-ball zucchinis and stuff them and serve them to your customers.”
He says his experience has also shaped him into a salesman who is able to walk right into the back door of a restaurant kitchen with produce and ask to speak to the head chef. Another thing that helps is the tomatoes. “That usually gets me in the door,” he says.
Right now, Fornof supplies produce for Little Eater, Due Amici, Latitude 41, G. Michael's, Skillet and Worthington Inn, with “some irons in the fire.”
A couple stalls down at Pearl Market, retired nurse Jerry Hinton sells honey.
“We went to a family wedding and my uncle brought honey favors. I knew he was a beekeeper, but nothing really clicked until I tasted the honey and I just kind of went crazy and was beekeeping later that year,” he says.
Twelve years later, Hinton Apiaries in Grove City is harvesting honey and selling at shows, and Hinton is advocating for the shrinking population of honeybees on earth.
“In my past life I did a lot of lectures ... so it's kind of a natural thing for me to continue to do that education,” he says.
While beekeeping is more “playtime” than income-generator for Hinton, he says he makes good money. And more than that, he says he's energized by the work.
“Coming from a world that's all science and math and medicine, it's really refreshing to be doing the opposite of that.”
Renovations for Pearl and Lynn alleys Downtown took more time and money than expected, but the project finally was declared complete in July. Among improvements: new lighting, electrical outlets and a big, green, tattooed arm holding a giant pearl where the alley begins at E. Broad Street. Pearl Alley is home to Pearl Market, which runs Tuesdays and Fridays from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. through mid-October.