How COVID-19 has affected the Holt Farmers’ Market

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Vendors at the Holt Farmers’ Market say they’re seeing more customers and a rise in income despite COVID-19.

The Holt Farmers’ Market hosts vendors selling a range of different products year-round. Although COVID-19 shut down the market from March 13 to May 30, some vendors say it has since had a positive impact, including Ben’s Custom Treats, which sells hand-poured chocolate treats.

“Actually COVID-19 has improved business,” said Paul Roettger, co-owner of Ben’s Custom Treats. “It seems as though we have a lot more customers come through. Today is an off day, but when we opened the market back up, we were seeing 700 people through in five hours. We generally average about 500 people on any given day.” 

Market director Chuck Grinnell said the 13 or 14 consistent vendors in the market have been setting records on sales, and after reopening in May, the market has set attendance records over the summer as well.

Grinnell said he believes people want to leave their houses and buy from local businesses, and since COVID-19 has restricted people from eating at restaurants, they are cooking at home more and need supplies. 

“I think people are just happy to get out a little bit and we have created a safe environment for them to do that in,” Grinnell said.

Grinnell said the biggest challenge he faced when the market was set to reopen May 30 was making sure proper protocols for vendors and customers were in place. In addition to face mask coverings, social distancing of 6 feet, and a decrease of vendors from 23 to 13, Grinnell said the market has implemented a one-way entrance and one-way exit in and out of the building.

“The stress of having to deal with this virus and just trying to keep yourself safe, let alone everybody else, is obviously top of my mind,” Grinnell said. “I’m a retired firefighter and EMT, so of course my biggest thing is safety.

“It seems to have worked really well with the one-way in and one-way out and people have been very cooperative.”

Holt resident Candice Morrison said the safety guidelines helped her feel more comfortable.

“At first I was really apprehensive of introducing us back into a social life,” Morrison said. “And then when you start figuring out, well if I wear my mask, wash my hands, and I keep my distance, I’ll probably be OK. But at first it was scary.”

Morrison said she and her husband, Kevin Morrison, have adjusted to sitting outside during the market hours. 

Roettger said the market has a great group of vendors that bring a great variety to the market. Both Roettger and Grinnell said their favorite part about the market is the people.

“That’s what it’s all about,” Grinnell said.

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