The hustle and bustle of the Sudbury Market returned to York Street this past Saturday, kicking off the summer season under a new set of safety regulations to protect both vendors and guests from COVID-19.
Setting up under these new restrictions took time, said newly-appointed market manager Kayla Smith, resulting in the delay and visible differences from past Nickel City markets.
One change was a noticeable decline in the number of vendors in attendance, but according to Smith, there’s actually a positive reason behind the drop in vendors.
With the market’s opening day delayed this spring, the Sudbury Market has been making a concerted effort to encourage market patrons to make their sales directly through the vendor.
All the relevant contact information has been shared on the market’s website and social media pages, said Smith, in addition to what has been conveyed directly when a recommendation is requested.
Many vendors who have never had an online presence or offered delivery also made these changes in recent months to sustain their business, she said, and thus far, the response has been incredible.
Residents of Greater Sudbury have adapted to the change so well, in fact, that vendors sold out of their product prior to market day, so they didn’t attend.
“They stepped up to the challenge and they’ve been doing awesome with it,” Smith said.
“It is going to be a new normal for a lot of people. (Patrons) don’t want to wait in lines at grocery stores and they want to get food that’s so fresh and good for them.”
More vendors are signed up for Thursday, said Smith, motivated by the opportunity to meet customers in person and grow awareness for their brand. But this does not mean it will be a market day as usual.
Parking has been limited to the north lot, aside from those with accessibility needs, to streamline the flow of customer traffic from one entrance and encourage the use of stationed hand sanitizer. All vendors will be spaced 20 feet apart, have hand sanitizer for themselves and guests, be cleaning their display between transactions, and will be pre-packaging all products.
“They’re doing everything they can to keep it safe because a lot of our vendors, this is their livelihood, they need the market.”
There will also be signage stationed at the entrance and throughout the market moving forward, to remind the public of social distancing protocols and encourage those with symptoms to avoid the area.
Guests will also have to relieve themselves prior to attending this year, as washroom facilities will be available for vendors only.
“We don’t want to have any kind of infection happen because of the market in or around Sudbury because we’re doing so well as a community keeping everyone healthy as can be,” Smith said.
With that in mind, Smith said only time will tell if the market is able to resume any on-site entertainment. Right now, they are only permitted to operate in a model more similar to a store.
Figuring out what that would mean for vendors and guests has been a challenge, said Smith, but rewarding, knowing the market is back up and running for the benefit of both vendors and guests.
“It’s so healthy to be outside and enjoying the sun and the fresh air, let alone the good that it does for the local economy and everybody here,” she said.
“Even if you’re not buying much of anything, just to come out and explore the area has been great for everyone. You need to work on your mental health as well during these times and this is really helping people with that.”
Having the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful weather in a safe location was one of the factors that played into Lawrence Van Beek’s visit to the market, along with the chance to check out “wonderful, locally made products.”
He was joined that day by his wife Kaede Yamanouchi and mother Lynne, who said shopping at the market was a “reward in this time of things that aren’t so fun.”
Lynne began coming to the Sudbury Market last year and with the delay, has also begun ordering online, specifically mentioning Ugly Barn Farm mushrooms as a favourite of hers. Anxious to return, she made it part of her birthday wishes, she said and with one goal in mind.
Ever since she was young, Lawrence said his mother has been looking for a gooseberry bush to remind her of one that grew on her grandparent’s farm. After all these years, she found one through the Sudbury Market and asked for her birthday to be joined in collecting it.
And her family said they were happy to tag along.
“I like they have many organic products, things that are healthy for your body, things you can’t buy from the supermarket,” said Yamanouchi.
Joining the market vendors for the first time Saturday was the husband and wife pairing of Valley Organic Blends, Lianne and Jason Roy, who began producing the line of hand-made organic products amidst COVID-19 pandemic closures to offer at her home-based hair salon.
Falling in love with the products, they decided to begin offering them online, said Lianne, and with the inclusion of a Mother’s Day and Father’s Day basket, sales quickly took off. This success inspired them to bring their shop to the market, she said, to get even more exposure for their local brand and thus far, the response has been “amazing”
They plan to return to the market every other weekend and the occasional Thursday, she said, but otherwise, people can find Valley Organic Blends online and at Esthetics by Yvette (1165 Roy Ave, Suite 2).
Sudbury Market will be open every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Thursday from 2-7 p.m. at the York Street parking lot. A second location on Elgin Street will be opened as soon as it has been deemed safe to do so.