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Simcoe Farmers' market welcomes walk-in customers

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After three months of taking online orders only, the Simcoe Farmers’ Market was able to welcome walk-in traffic on July 9.

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“It’s been a good response,” said market treasurer and vendor Greg Boyd. “Customers are very respectful of the protocols, and we’ve heard good feedback (from customers) about being able to get out to see their favourite vendors.”

The inside of the market located at the Simcoe fairgrounds is able to have 13 customers at a time from the hours of 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Thursday. Other protocols in place include one-way traffic through the market and hand wash stations. Vendors inside are spaced six feet apart.

“In terms of business, it is the first week and we’re OK with it being slow,” said Boyd. “We learned a lot in terms of how to control traffic for future weeks. We’re happy with how today went.”

The market had about 300 customers stop by on Thursday, about half of what they normally had before the shutdown ordered by the province.

Cathy Ste. Croix, owner of Catche by Cathy, was happy to get back to seeing customers face to face.

“It’s been really good, everyone has been keeping their distance and they’ve been really pleasant,” said Ste. Croix. “It’s been nice that we haven’t been bombarded, everyone has been taking their time.”

Ste. Croix added that customers were welcoming her back and more than willing to bag their own items to avoid high-touch surfaces.

Along with being open for customers in the morning, the market will continue to offer curbside pickup indefinitely on Thursday afternoons from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

“That was our response to being closed physically,” said Boyd.

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In mid-March, the market was forced to close due to COVID-19 restrictions. By March 30, the online store was up and running for customers to order items for curbside pickup, averaging around 250 orders a week.

Boyd was an advocate for the online store and ensured other vendors that it would be successful during startup, according to the previous market clerk.

Market officials say the number of online orders has fallen to about half of the orders seen at the height of closures. This is attributed to other storefronts and the physical market re-opening.

Ste. Croix is impressed with how the online store is working.

“It’s like a well-oiled machine, everybody who was taking part had their job, and everybody did it well,” she said. “It was absolutely amazing and I’m glad that online is continuing as well.”

Over 700 items from local vendors are available online for curbside pickup. The website for orders can be found on the Simcoe Farmers’ Market Facebook page.

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