After nearly a century, a Montco shopping tradition nears the end

Shopping the 'thrifty Dutch way' at a farmers market in Gilbertsville is coming to a close.

As summer winds to a close, so too does a shopping tradition in Montgomery County.

Zern’s Farmers Market in Gilbertsville has been a one-stop shopping staple for nearly 100 years, offering everything from wedding dresses to potatoes by the bushel.

After 96 years, Zern’s bills itself as “one of the oldest farmers markets in the United States,” but in June it announced that if a buyer weren’t found, its doors would close for good at the end of September.

“The place used to be packed!” said a man wandering through the mostly empty aisles. Browsing from booth to booth, he said he remembers how busy it used to be when he was a teenager working at one of the produce stands.

Many of the former sales folks don’t show up anymore. Many booths are unoccupied. Empty shelves and counters remain with an occasional sticker hearkening to days past.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor
Spices ’N Such owner Lorraine Brinkmann, a longtime vendor at Zern's, will reopen as early as October 5 at a new location in Pennsburg.
Spices ’N Such owner Lorraine Brinkmann, a longtime vendor at Zern’s, will reopen at a new location in Pennsburg. (Bastiaan Slabbers for WHYY)

But some vendors are sticking it out till the end. Spices ’N Such owner Lorraine Brinkmann found a new spot in Pennsburg and will reopen as early as Oct. 5.

“I have been here longer then I can remember,” said Brinkmann. She seems to look forward to what the future might bring for her shop packed with spices, herbs and coffee.

You can still “shop the thrifty Dutch way” Fridays and Saturdays through the end of September.

"Shop the thrifty Dutch way," reads a sign welcoming visitors to Zern's Farmers Market in Gillberstville, Pa.
A sign welcomes visitors to Zern’s Farmers Market in Gilbertstville, Pa. (Bastiaan Slabbers for WHYY)

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal