To the joy of many local vendors, the Strathmore Farmers Market was able to host its annual Fall Fair market on Oct. 2.
“The Strathmore Farmer’s Market, we generally do the summer market in Kinsmen Park, and we do a few special markets a year,” said Tracy Yochum, who organized the event.
“It’s a little slower this year, a little quieter, and I don’t know if some people are scared to come out.”
The market was considered a retail outlet, and so was allowed to run under the same operational guidelines as a storefront, being that occupants were required to be masked and distanced.
Many of the vendors who attended are local to Strathmore and area, but some came from as far away as Calgary.
“I’m actually impressed (with the turnout). We’ve got some wonderful vendors who have brought some beautiful things in there,” said Yochum.
“The vendors are such nice people. They’re hard-working. These are people who make these things (by hand) and the markets are how a lot of them make their living.”
The market, as usual, served as a boon for vendors to be able to interact with their customer base, show off their wares, and benefit from an extra opportunity to open up shop.
Yochum added for many of the vendors who attend the Fall Fair and similar markets, it’s much more affordable than attempting to open a permanent physical storefront.
“For the vendors, it’s a cheaper way for them to sell their things rather than to open a store. It’s not possible for most people with a small business to open a storefront.”
“This way, they can test out their products and see what sells well and what doesn’t.”
Yochum has been managing the markets for over six years now and added they only grow in vendors and in foot traffic every year.
“We don’t want to shut down the markets if we can run them because these people rely on this for their livelihood.”
“For the customers, it would be all the beautiful, handmade stuff that’s unique— it’s things you can’t go and buy at a big box store.”
For the potential upcoming Christmas market, Yochum adds if it is allowed to be hosted, it’s one of the busier and more profitable times of the year for vendors.
“Usually, I have a lot of vendors. I know for Christmas, I’m getting to the point where I’m going to have to start turning people away. That usually does happen every year— our Christmas market is very big.”
“Usually I can have about 100 to 110 vendors, but with the COVID restrictions, it's going to be a lot less because I have to have them further spaced out.”
Last year, the Christmas market was forced to shutter its plan to operate a week before the day due to COVID-19 precautions. Yochum said she would hold out as long as possible for this year’s market, but ultimately will follow any further restrictions that apply this year.
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times