The Six Yellow Chairs’ Farmer’s Market is helping revive small town life. Usually a single stand fruit and vegetable market wouldn’t attract much attention, but in Lanse, Pa, it’s just another example of how the café and gift shop seeks to improve rural life. The white tented stand is run by a local resident, situated at the back of a café’s gravel parking lot. A prominent sign atop the tent advertises the weekly event and is visible from the main intersection in Lanse.
It used to be that no one had heard of the town of Lanse, even lifelong residents of the nearby college town of State College. But since its opening in January, Six Yellow Chairs has been earning a reputation and attracting visitors from State College, DuBois, and other larger boroughs. On this bright and brisk Saturday morning, there were only a few buyers at the market, but diners were overflowing onto the brick patio of the café across the lot.
Add to the attraction of the café a weekly farmer’s market in the parking lot, and local residents are prouder than ever. As nearby Donna Matsko explains, “We need businesses around.” Most of the local towns were once booming centers of business and trade, built on railroads that carried local natural resources like clay, coal, and timber. Those industries have long since died out, but many of the families stayed. Businesses that offer high quality fare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner are rare and much appreciated. “It’s a good thing,” says Rachel Ryen, a local resident. It improves the quality of life for people who have chosen to live around family and friends in their familiar hometown, but have given up conveniences like shopping and dining.
Offering fresh produce is a recent addition. This is its third week, and upcoming fall groceries will include pumpkins, apples, and seasonal flowers like mums, according to the seller. Dave Bennett gets his produce from local Amish farms and tries to offer a wide variety. He acknowledges that rural folks usually grow their own tomatoes, but most don’t have cabbage, melons, or onions, which were among this week’s produce.
Bennett says that Six Yellow Chairs is a local asset. “They’re doing a great business – better than they thought they’d do,” he says. It’s the only business of its kind in the area, and locals might have been shy to try something new. But the combination of its quality food, rare espresso bar, central location, and reasonable prices are hard to resist. And as the owners make additions such as the farmer’s market, it will be hard to imagine Lanse without its star attraction.