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A customer checks out the offerings from Peconic River Herb Farm. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

Opening day of the new indoor East End Food Market in Riverhead was a rousing success.

The market, formerly known as the Riverhead Indoor Farmers Market, saw 1,044 customers walk through the door during its first four hours, according to East End Food Institute Executive Director Kate Fullam.

Volunteer greeters used an attendance clicker to generate a head-count at the market, located at the heavily trafficked southwest corner of the Main Road and Route 105 intersection.

“It was kind of a cool, old-school way of handling it,” Fullam said. “We’re really happy to have that information and the excitement was building as we were surpassing 500, 600, 700. And then we broke 1,000.”

There were over 30 vendors on-hand for the opening and Fullam said many of them sold through their entire inventory.

She added that vendors were very happy with the market overall. While some were concerned that booths were only six feet by seven feet, “vendors really used the vertical space, brought in furniture and really had a lot of fun getting creative to fill their space and make things look abundant,” she said.

“The space is great,” said Backyard Brine co-owner Randy Kopke, who noted that the enthusiasm from both vendors and guests was palpable. “Everyone’s excited about the location. It’s easily accessible.” 

Backyard Brine hadn’t participated in a farmers market since 2019 and Kopke said that their products sold very well Saturday.

Sang Lee Farms’ Lucy Senesac also loves the new space and is happy to see old customers from the previous incarnation of the market.

“It’s so nice to see people that don’t come to other farmers markets,” she said. “After two years of it not being there, it was nice to see that community connection there.”

Thanks to the new space and the large crowd, Fullam said she received inquiries from potential vendors who were there shopping.

“It is part of our plan to continue to expand,” she said. 

Some customers also used SNAP benefits and the East End Food Institute plans to hold some donated produce, where customers can pay what they can.

The East End Food Market is held on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 139 Main Road in Riverhead, the former site of Homeside Florist.