Feride Ozkan, owner and chef of Ozfeka Catering, working at her booth.
Photo by Marin Heberlig/The Connection
All across the country, COVID-19 has been disrupting businesses. One of those businesses is the McLean Farmers Market, which had its opening delayed by six weeks because of the Virginia health restrictions implemented due to COVID-19. On Friday June 12, the McLean Farmers Market was finally ready to open with some new safety precautions in place. Upon entering the market, there is a one way path through the vendor stalls, and there is a waiting line to maintain social distancing. Additionally, customers are not allowed to touch the produce, and visits are limited to 30 minutes. Robert Andres, a first year vendor at the market, said that the safety precautions had changed the ambiance of the farmers market. Instead of being a place to socialize while browsing the stalls, he said the farmers market is now more business oriented because of new safety policies.
Although the pandemic has caused the McLean Farmers Market to open late, the manager, William Smith, and supervisor, Pam Smith, are optimistic that COVID-19 will boost their sales rather than hurt them. Because of the market’s safety policies and outdoor location, Pam Smith believes that the McLean Farmers Market is “safer than grocery stores.” In her view, many people who are worried about the health risks at grocery stores, will be more willing to come to the farmers market because it is less crowded, out in the open air, and a safe environment. The market has an older demographic, so the safety policies are appealing to the older customers that are more affected by the virus. As a result, attendance was high on Friday morning, and many shoppers were supporting their local vendors.
The McLean Farmers Market did not need to downsize due to COVID-19. According to manager, William Smith, there are the same number of vendors as there have been in past years. He explained that there are some new vendors, and others that have been at the market for decades.
Every Friday from 8 a.m. to Noon, until Nov. 13, the McLean Farmers Market is in full swing at Lewinsville Park, 1659 Chain Bridge Rd. The market has adapted and will continue to change to maintain safety during this unprecedented global pandemic.