Farmers market reopens, but it's a different experience now
'COVID has changed everything and we'll just go with the flow,' says market manager
It wasn't quite business as usual, but the Boyce Farmers Market in Fredericton, N.B., reopened its doors on Sunday for the first time since COVID-19 forced it to shut down.
The parking lot, normally bustling with vendors, food trucks and lineups for samosas, was nearly deserted.
This week was the start of the market's phased reopening and was for essential food vendors and people selling masks.
Leslie Morrell, the market's manager, said it's a different experience for vendors and shoppers.
"We're making it work," said Morrell. "But that's what we have to do with COVID. COVID has changed everything and we'll just go with the flow."
Morrell said some of the vendors have been moved from their usual spots to meet the new layout of the market.
Customers could only enter through the George Street entrance and had to follow the one-way configuration of the building.
"It is weird," said Morrell. "It's sad, but it's our new normal, and this is what we're going to have to do."
The market was set to reopen on Saturday, but a severe thunderstorm Friday evening caused a power outage. So organizers decided to open on Sunday.
There were 38 vendors. Morrell said there normally would be 125 at this time of year, but that having to move the market from Saturday to Sunday on short notice prevented some vendors from setting up.
She said organizers are asking the public to wear masks inside the market because two metres of separation can't be guaranteed.
Veronica Perrin, of Eco Fab Mama, was one of the vendors back at the market on Sunday.
Before COVID-19, she would normally sell reusable products, like sandwich bags, but she started making face masks during her time away from the market.
Perrin said she didn't know what to expect going back. "Originally, when all this started in March and April, I was hesitant," she said.
But Perrin said she's satisfied with how the market is operating.
"Now that we know the rules, know the precautions, how to deal with cash, how to deal with cleaning, everything like that — it's good."
Margo Mulder, owner of The Cheese Market/Mulhouse Fine Foods, said she'll likely add more staff next week to help meet some of the challenges created by the precautions.
But she's happy to have the market back and enjoyed seeing some familiar faces again.
"I really missed our customers. They are so supportive and that's why we're here."
Organizers aren't sure when more vendors, including food trucks, will be able to come back.