Montgomery County

Zerns Farmers Market in Montgomery County Put on Market for $7 Million

BobbiGail Lipton's father, Morris, bought the Zerns Farmers Market in 1949 when the eclectic country bazaar was already well-established in far western Montgomery County.

"We didn't build Zerns. Zerns built itself. It has a magnetism," said Lipton, who has long gone only by her first name.

She grew up in nearby Boyertown, Berks County, just a short distance from the 24-acre plot of land where Zerns sits in Gilbertsville, along the well-traveled Route 73.

"My very strong desire is to see this continue in operation well past 100 years," Lipton said in a phone interview. "There are so few places like this in the country."

Lipton, who has long lived in Hawaii, has put the market up for sale with an asking price of $7 million. It is listed by Kurfiss Sotherby's International of Philadelphia.

The longtime owner who's ready to retire said she loves the nostalgia that comes with a farmers' market that has vendors dating back 70 years. More than 100 vendors are part of the weekend bazaar that also includes events car auctions on Friday nights and wrestling matches on Saturdays.

"Founded in 1922, Zerns draws hundreds of thousands of consumers each year to its myriad of vendors," according to the listing. "These merchants are spread throughout a 200,000-square-foot area under roof, with plenty of additional space outdoors for seasonal offerings."

Lipton said the the location's commercial ways date to 1752, when a local farmer sold "potatoes by the edge of the road."

A fire in the 1960s destroyed much of the commercial space, but the large main structure and surrounding facilities were rebuilt.

"To me, she's a lady, a 95-year-old lady who's sort of graceful and in the past went through an awful lot," Lipton said.

Interest in the property by prospective buyers has been fierce since the listing was posted last week, realtor Ryan Cortez said.

Neither he nor Lipton said what types of prospective buyers showed interest, but both said the hope was the next owner would keep Zerns intact.

"I don't want to see it become a Target," Lipton said.

She added, "I know people's shopping habits have changed and eventually people will be shopping by drones. But the people watching, the vendors, those are the invaluable parts of Zerns that makes our loyal customers returning every week, and new people coming to see the market all the time."

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