CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- While the weather may not be any indicator, one of the surest signs of spring is outdoor vendors arriving at Capitol Market.
Gritt's Midway Greenhouse, a steady presence at the market since its early days, was one of the first vendors set up and doing business Thursday. Jim Gritt was handling the cash register, and said he expected this weekend to bring more customers.
"I got here last Saturday," said Gritt, 70. "We'll stay the whole summer season and be back in the fall."
Gritt's was selling the season's first offerings — ferns, hydrangeas, tulips, lilies, pansies and their signature hydroponic tomatoes.
This year the booth will introduce its hydroponic lettuces and cucumbers to Charleston.
"We also are selling the early vegetable plants," he said, indicating cabbages and similar crops ready for planting in home gardens. "And we'll keep bringing more and more things."
Gritt grew up working in the greenhouse started in Midway by his father in 1944. He now lives in Florida, but returns to help his own children with setting up for the spring at Capital Market.
"I'm semi-retired, but I guess I can't get away from it," he said.
All around Gritt's stand were empty booths Thursday, but he said he expects that to change quickly as other vendors arrive and set up for business.
Granny's Greenhouse was also in place, selling some early primrose plants and shrubs to the season's first customers.
"We've been here since last Friday," said Carol Blackshire of Charleston. "I think the next few days it's going to be great as the temperatures go up."
Blackshire started out as a customer who became a friend of owner Rita Lovejoy of Griffithsville. Now she works at the market part-time.
"There's a lot of competition between vendors, but it's good competition," Blackshire said. "There's so much business, it's good for everyone."
She'll be assisted by Susie Ramie of Lincoln County, who expects to work Granny's booth seven days a week. Ramie was keeping busy caring for plants and readying the booth for what she expected to be a busy weekend.
Inside the market, Alan Hathaway is also preparing for a busy spring at the market. Hathaway owns the popular Purple Onion and WV Marketplace stores.