Business is bouncing back at the Welland Farmers’ Market as customers are finally returning, thanks to eased lockdown restrictions.
The market, however, has been open since August 2020.
Lyal Packham has been operating his Packham Poultry Farm out of the Welland Farmers’ Market since 1973. Packham said during the shutdown of the market from March to August of 2020, he was “(hurting) for sales,” even with some of his customers driving out to his Dunnville farm to get their orders.
Despite some online advertisement of the market having been open for some time, Packham said, “there's a lot of senior customers, they don't have computers,” citing that as the reason for the general lack of awareness.
He said he was confident his business would do well now that lockdown restrictions have been eased and his customers are aware the business is open and they’re able to shop.
Despite it not being his main job, Paul Alfieri has been selling bread and other baked goods in the Welland Farmers’ Market since 1978. He said that pre-COVID-19, business was “double” what it is now and as a result of the lockdown, he brings two-thirds less product to sell than he normally would.
With customers now returning to the market, Alfieri said he thinks his business is going to be OK in the future, given that he was already “doing OK” with sales, but “only because bread is an essential item.”
Sylvia’s Bakery has been operating out of the Welland Farmers’ Market for over three decades. In 2017, Maria Thornton acquired the assets of Sylvia’s Bakery and started her own company, Flour Child Bakery, which she continued to operate out of the farmers’ market, among other places.
“Before COVID, I was in eight markets; I’m now in two,” said Thornton, who now operates only in St. Catharines and Welland farmers’ markets and a third seasonal stall in Port Colborne. Though the other two opened up earlier, Thornton said she returned to Welland in September of 2020; it wasn’t until the previous week that she saw normal winter-level sales.
- Moosa Imran, Local Journalism Initiative, Grimsby Lincoln News