JOPLIN, Mo. — There’s a great list of options if you’re looking for a farmer’s market in the Four States.

But one Joplin site is growing beyond the traditional crafts and vegetables.

“We are in the Empire Market Building. We’re at 931 East 4th Street,” said Lori Haun, Downtown Joplin Alliance.

A spot to buy tomatoes, lettuce, onions, and much, much more.

“Things are good. We’ve got more farmers and more produce this year than we’ve ever had,” said Haun.

She points out it isn’t limited to produce with options for jewelry, homemade soap, and decorative glassware.

“So just a really fun place to come and get some kind of funny, quirky gifts that are local, that are very Joplin-centric,” said Haun.

Even how you shop has changed since that first season kickstarted by pandemic restrictions.

“During covid, we shifted, within the first couple of weeks, we shifted to an online platform where you could pre-order, and that is ongoing. That’s been a really nice convenient tool. It expands the number of vendors that we have, we actually have some vendors online that are only online. You can just pull up and we’ll load those into your car,” said Haun.

You might think of it as a kind of next-level farmer’s market.

“It really is, City Market is kind of the best thing that’s a super familiar term locally, but we would equate it to Soulard Market in St. Louis or River Market in Kansas City, something like that. That’s a very kind of multifaceted,” said Haun.

Shoppers have been buying locally there since 2018, but that’s just the first floor of the building.

“We now use almost all the whole building every day. The upstairs of the facility are actually offices that we rent out to entrepreneurs and small businesses and other nonprofits and things like that. So, it’s a very low-cost place for them to do business. So, that’s a nice piece of it. The market itself, of course, has vendors and farmers and stuff all day every Saturday all year round,” said Haun.

She points out the permanent structure gives them options not available at a typical farmer’s market.

“You know, it being in a facility gives you a lot of opportunities outside of just setting up tents in the parking lot and it’s a much more structured, much more consistent environment, and a little friendlier for both customers and vendors on Saturdays to, you know, know they’re under a roof and inside walls,” said Haun.

But the building itself is much older and has hosted some very different businesses.

“It’s a 1906 building, originally Joplin Casket Company. So, it’s got a fun story but yeah, I mean, Empire had been here in this building for over 100 years,” said Haun.

Meanwhile, the Empire Market is still evolving with room to grow in the future.

“We’ve got a whole pavilion that we haven’t done anything with that is another 11,000 square feet under a roof that could be expanded,” said Haun.