Never heard of Zern's or QMart? Never fear. This column is about to change your life.
Being a local Emmaus-ite and the granddaughter of some true PA Dutchmen (and women), I’ve always been raised to appreciate the more frugal way of having family fun.
Since my husband isn’t much of a board game player, we’ve gotten creative with how we spend our weekend evenings. Fortunately, we live in an area that supplies us with some great options for getting the family out of the house on a Friday night without breaking the bank.
Zern’s Farmers’ Market is also referred to as the “Gilbertsville Auction” or “The Sale,” whereas QMart is officially known as the “Quakertown Farmers’ Market.”
These two places are an interesting blend of a farmers’ market, a flea market and…oh…a little bit of "je ne sais quoi." Each has its own unique flavor.
Upon arriving at either one of these locations, you will find a sprawling one-story factory-style building surrounded by a massive parking lot.
QMart boasts its indoor size at over 225,000 square feet, while Zern’s touts its longevity at over 90 years and going strong (although QMart is only 10 years behind Zern's in age). QMart was voted “Best Farmers’ Market” in the 2011 Readers’ Choice Awards.
According to its website, Zern’s has over 300 indoor vendors and 100 outdoor and was voted “Best Dutch Treat” and “Best of Philly” by Philadelphia Magazine.
The outdoor space is seasonally used for plant auctions and other outdoor vendors when the months are warm. If you need some seedlings for that garden you’re planning, head to Zern’s. You can’t get better prices.
Zern’s has also become known for its regular car auctions, live auctions and silent auctions.
For our family, a typical night at Zern’s includes a shopping list like this:
- Dried Apricots
- Fresh produce
- Haircuts (the Zern’s barber is old-school and affordable!)
- Mixed candy (including Black Jack & Clove Gum)
- Miscellaneous tools (as needed)
- Beef Jerky
We love QMart for:
- The pet store
- The great magazine/book stand
- The old-fashioned race track (where I used to play when I was a little girl)
- The amazing Puerto Rican restaurant
- The discount grocery store
- The ever-so-famous “Fleck's” sticky buns
- Wally the Alligator (yes, he’s a six-foot alligator living at QMart)
These unique attractions are only open on the weekends, so if you find yourself looking for some free entertainment, plan a Friday night visit. Zern’s is only about a half an hour south on Rt. 100. QMart is about the same distance south on Rt. 309.
And if you hit it close to closing time on a Saturday or Sunday night, get ready to see some bargains. Produce and baked goods must be sold, so vendors bundle and reduce like you’ve never seen.
At a glance
1100 E. Philadelphia Ave., Gilbertsville.
Hours: Fridays, 2 p.m. - 10 p.m.; Saturdays 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.
* Quakertown Farmers Market, 201 Station Road, Quakertown
Hours: Fridays and Saturdays 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.