Guest post by Chris Penton, President of Beechwood Market Inc.
Two months ago (today is May 28) I decided to move the Beechwood Market online for the 2020 season.
The province has deemed farmers’ markets essential services. We are technically allowed to open up – business as usual – as long as we enforce the well-known rules. Truthfully, I find the province’s choice a bit suspect. A possible recipe for a second wave of COVID. I would have moral difficulty opening up every Saturday. I picture my blood pressure rising a dozen points as I frantically run around with a custom-made 6-foot stick, begging people to stay away from each other. Hard to blame customers; they come to the Market to mingle, chat with vendors, taste honey, watch their kids play on the jungle gym, and enjoy the chill we have all created together.
Any way you paint it, the experience you seek in a visit to the Beechwood Market has been shattered for this season. Sitting areas, tasters, the Community Table and music would not appear. The play structure, basketball court, ping-pong tables and pool would all be out of bounds. The washrooms would even be off-limits!
There would also have to be extraordinary measures put in place. The entire park would be roped off, customer numbers would be limited on site, resulting in a lineup snaking its way out of the park. One-way circulation would be mandatory and in order to avoid pinch points, interaction with vendors would be next to nil. Produce could not be handled and reusable bags would be forbidden.
So, instead, we will take the giant step of reviving our Shopify (keeping it 613!) powered online market. We tried this out three years ago. My ego permits me to admit that that experiment failed. I never imagined these would be the circumstances under which we would see the resurgence of the online market.
The process is like so many others. Select your produce, baking, honey, prepped meals, make a secure payment, then choose a 30-minute window in which to pick up your items. We will also do delivery. Limited at first, as reliable delivery is a big leap. We want to get it right and grow it properly.
If the possibility of a regular market for 2020 becomes safe, sensible, and permitted, we’ll jump on it. We maintain that this is the smartest option for everyone.
A massive shift for all the vendors, customers and lowly managers, but cancelling was never a consideration. See you soon.
Visit the Beechwood Market online to order items from vendors for Saturday pickups.