Grand Falls-Windsor Farmers' Market growing despite, and because of, pandemic

·3 min read
Submitted by Codylynn Smith
Submitted by Codylynn Smith

The pandemic has been challenging for local businesses, but the Grand Falls-Windsor Farmers' Market is discovering there are some unexpected benefits as well.

"We're still seeing growth. If you look at our numbers from last year to this year, we're still growing, the pandemic hasn't put us back any," says Codylynn Smith, a member of the market's board of directors.

She said while there are obviously challenges in the age of COVID-19, they have been doing great.

Submitted by Codylynn Smith
Submitted by Codylynn Smith

"For us, it's almost been beneficial in a way, because there hasn't really been anything else happening," Smith said.

"Our vendors are doing a lot better because people are coming to the market, and they're ending up with new customers that they didn't have before, because it's one of the only outlets right now for local shopping."

Looking to expand

The market started less than a decade ago with just a few produce vendors, but business has been so good of late, the market is looking at expanding into its own space.

"Last season we operated out of a large event tent and that worked really great for us because the outdoor setting really gave you the farmers' market experience," Smith said.

"We actually met with the town council a couple of months ago and [made] a proposal to them. What we were looking for is for them to be an applicant to ACOA for some funding because we were looking at moving into a permanent structure and getting a building of our own.

Submitted by Codylynn Smith
Submitted by Codylynn Smith

She said because the farmers' market has only been an independent incorporated enterprise for just over a year, the town wasn't 100 percent ready to move forward on applying for such a large amount of funding, however.

But the town is working closely with the market. Smith said they've been temporarily operating from the Legion in Grand Falls-Windsor.

"It's been easier to navigate the distancing and keeping the traffic in one direction. And there was access to bathroom facilities, things like that."

More distancing, concentrated customers

Still, the public health regulations haven't been without some challenges, according to Smith.

"Trying to navigate all the guidelines and regulations has definitely been tricky for us and for our vendors because people get accustomed to a certain way of things. It has been a transition for us and out vendors," she said.

Submitted by Codylynn Smith
Submitted by Codylynn Smith

But after everyone got used to the now-standard precautions like masks and physical distancing, Smith said some definite benefits came to light.

"We can't have as many vendors as we would normally have in the space that we're currently in, but that's kind of benefited our vendors, too, because people come to the market and they only have a certain amount of disposable income that they're going to spend," she said.

"If there was a little bit less vendors, then more of the vendors get to reap the benefits of that."

She gives credit for their success to the community for supporting them through both good times and bad.

"The community has been really supportive to us, and they are really accepting of us as well," Smith said.

"The more people that find out about us, they're like 'oh, this is so great.' It's such a great thing for our community, a great place for our local entrepreneurs to showcase their products and showcase them to a large audience at one time." Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador