For most of us, grocery shopping renders several emotions ranging from joy of finding great BOGO deals, to standing in long checkout lines behind shoppers whose carts are filled as if to feed nine elephants while passionately evangelizing to the cashier—when you simply came to pick up an onion. Fortunately, farmers markets exist. Stiles Farmer’s Market in Lauderhill has no long lines, fresh fruits and vegetables, produce, seafood, and a lot more. Owner and health advocate Finley Matthews recently purchased the market a few months ago in hopes of offering superior quality, competitive pricing, and a wide variety of products. “Our market has a wide variety for the international customer with a focus on Caribbean, African, and African-American needs,” Finley said as he waved to incoming customers. Stiles Farmers Market is one of few, if not sole African-American owned grocers in South Florida.
I decided to check out the place after a morning run. You know how when you exercise you feel like if you eat healthy immediately afterwards, you should get abs the same day? Yeah, that is exactly how I was feeling, as I crackhead walked through the front door to a world of seeded and natural goodness. In contrast with major chains such as Walmart and Winn-Dixie, a large portion of Stiles inventory is locally sourced through black and minority purveyors and farmers. This would probably explain the giant cooler with live crabs crawling around toward the back of the market where the meats are. That was the coolest part of the entire store. I then started to feel sorry for them, provided they wouldn’t crawl for much longer due to a guy holding a large bucket, hovering over the cooler looking like a Black version of the Flanagan Restaurant face.
Their competitive pricing undercuts food giants such as Trader Joes, Publix, and Walmart on almost every item in the store. Increasing the amount of locally sourced, organic, and wild caught foods are at the core of Stile’s philosophy, as plans to incorporate a full service deli, bakery, and juice bar are underway. I must admit, as an African-American in South Florida, I was very proud of the owner in placing value on carrying products specific to African-American, African, and Caribbean culinary traditions.
My shopping list included: blueberries, strawberries, lemons, asparagus, apples, pears, grapefruit, plums, herbs, ginger, red peppers, onions, carrots, and broccoli that came up to just $15.45. This was just the tip of the iceberg…..lettuce (I couldn’t resist) as you make your way down the colorful isles; you arrive at the meat and fish area. I hit the jackpot. Wild caught salmon, snapper, and blue crabs were the feature of the day, and I made out like a bandit. In and out of season produce, along with novelties such as bread fruit can be found throughout the store. “Today I came for fruits and fish. I love the fact everything is either local or organic, and even if some items aren’t organic, they can tell you exactly what farm it was grown. That information is important to me and my family’s health,” said Joshua Grayson who traveled from Miami to support the Black owned grocer—“It’s important for me to support black owned businesses in our community,” Grayson stated.
Owner, Finley Matthews further expressed his desire to expand the market into a full scale grocer within the coming year. The expansion will increase the already versatile inventory to include goods sourced from local fishmongers, butchers, bakers and other artisans, and eventually a small restaurant. The market is under light construction, but that did not deter customers as they strode through each inviting lane filled with floral and fruity scents.
Continuing towards the checkout registers, patrons will notice the meat and seafood section where you can find oxtails, turkey wings, smoked meats, chicken, conch, and much more. “I want this to be a one stop shop for customers. Being that I’m located right across the street from Publix, we have to be competitive in our prices and customer service. We pride ourselves in offering high quality foods below market prices. We need the community to come support us so that we can continue to grow and be not just a Farmers Market, but be an educational experience for customers who want to eat and live healthier lives, especially in the Black Community” Matthews stated. The market also features traditional grocery store items such as canned goods, nuts, detergents, soap, and other household needs.
My experience at Stiles Farmers Market was not only economically advantageous, but educational as well. The employees were nice, but a bit standoffish at times. Living in Miami-Dade County, my drive was considerable, however, I would gladly take the drive weekly to support this small business. I would encourage anyone who is interested in supporting small and/or black owned businesses to definitely give Stile’s Farmers Market a visit. The owner expressed that he is working on building an engaging marketing campaign, along with an interactive website for customers to check out what new items and seasonal fruits and vegetables will be available in the store. The store is located at 5920 West Oakland Park Blvd, Lauderhill, Florida 33313 and is open Monday through Saturday from 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. and Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m, you can also reach them at (954) 733-5252.