Community Market Find Success Despite the Pandemic
Pete Deaver ~ Guest Writer
One year after quarantine hit full force, vendors at the Lynchburg Community Market indicate that it was a very profitable year.
When the pandemic hit roughly one year ago, and efforts to stay home and stay safe increased, small businesses took a massive blow. According to a survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank, 30% of surveyed business owners indicated that their business would likely not survive the impact of the pandemic.
However, farmers in Lynchburg, Va., and surrounding areas, tell a different story.
Glenn Clayton, the owner and operator of Hungry Hill Farm, reports that his business has nearly doubled.
“It is just constant new customers. I can track it with my credit card sales. I mean, it tells me how many [transactions] are repeat customers and how many are new customers. I am [seeing] about 78% new customers.”
Shane Spanninger, who owns and operates Turnip the Beets Farm along with Beverly Spanninger, confirms this uptick in business, and indicates it is not just from the Community Market.
“Last year as the pandemic set in, early on, as we got back to market, sales were really good […] but online orders are what really picked up. So we were not seeing as many people walking into the market and making an impact, but online sales were good.”
In addition to the safety that local farms provide through online sales, Rachel Palma, who owns Restoration Acres Farm in Bedford, cites food shortages from within grocery stores as a contributing factor.
“[I]n the beginning it was a huge increase, like the first few months, because people kind of started panicking, and we ate meat. So there was like the meat shortage scare and people kind of flocked to us and we just sold out within a matter of weeks.”
Palma indicated that she did not believe that the vaccine would slow business down. Brick Goldman, owner of Goldman Farm, has the same hopeful outlook.
“I think we are going to see more people come back to the market. People that have stayed away because of the COVID situation. I am hoping that once we get more vaccines, people will come back to the market.”