The Dayton Market: A Community of Commerce

A Shenandoah Valley landmark for over 25 years, the Dayton Market brings visitors and residents together in a casual, friendly setting.

Located two miles south of Harrisonburg, the Town of Dayton is one of the oldest settled communities in Rockingham County.  Surrounded by prime agricultural farmland, this historic land is populated by many members of the Old Order Mennonite community.  With working farms and open spaces, traveling through Dayton and the surrounding area is a step back in time.  Horse-drawn buggies remain a common form of travel on rural roads throughout the community.

Since 1987, The Dayton Market has been a shopping destination for both locals and tourists including Massanutten Resort's weekly annual visitors. The Dayton Market (formerly known as the Dayton Farmers Market) is an eclectic collection of 20 specialty shops owned by individual, local merchants. When owner Fred Shank was faced with the need to update the façade and internal layout, he was referred to the Shenandoah Valley SBDC. Director Joyce Krech and VSBDC Retail Consultant Marc Willson met Fred for a tour of the Shops and discussed the market’s physical layout and “wayfinding” challenges as well as the outer façade and signage. Fred in turn recommended that the merchant-run Advertising Committee meet with the SBDC. Business Advisor Allison Dugan joined the effort and over the next few months led the committee in an extensive review and assessment process of their advertising needs and business brand.

They reviewed the Market’s Web presence, usability of the existing Website, the “findability” of their directory listings, and major referral sources. Rich and lively discussion continued to identify attributes of their customers and target markets, as well as brainstorming key historical descriptions of the Market.  Were their descriptions up-to-date and accurate? Were the meeting customer expectations?

Allison introduced some of the SBDC’s GrowthWheel® tools to the group, including the Branding Opportunities Framework that highlighted the four areas that form the brand of a business: Visual Identity, Physical Identity, Voice Identity, and Attitude Identity fit together like a puzzle to create a full customer experience. The Committee discussed some complex considerations such as how can individual shops, in addition to their own marketing efforts, support the overall marketing message of the Market (and vice-versa), for a united effort and message? How can the exterior and interior designs and layout of the Market support the branded marketing message? And finally, the big question: should we look at re-naming the Market if “farmer’s market” has a different meaning to customers than it did two decades ago?

The SBDC brought in local branding expert Jaye Brumfield to discuss visual identity and the importance of building a distinctive and easily recognizable name and simple logo. Then they facilitated an independent Focus Group comprised of local business owners, destination marketers, and front-line hospitality managers with the goal of gathering a fresh and objective perspective, honest feedback, and candid comments on the continuing development of the name, logo, and tagline for the Market.

The Committee used all the data and feedback to present findings to the full meeting of shop owners. Change of any kind, especially of a branded name, is always challenging but the committee worked diligently and used the resources available to them to present sound reasoning and a plan for adapting a new logo and name. On November 7, 2015 The Dayton Market was re-introduced with the tagline “a community of shops” which the merchants felt expressed all of the aspects of their past, present and future as a very special place for merchants and customers – for friends – to gather.

The committee, shop owners, and Dayton officials continue to work closely with the SBDC to expand marketing strategies and grow as one community.

 

 

To learn more, visit www.thedaytonmarket.com