The Parker and Castle Rock farmer's markets are scheduled to return June 7 as organizers work to implement measures to make shoppers and vendors feel safe and comfortable. Both farmer's markets — …
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The Parker and Castle Rock farmer's markets are scheduled to return June 7 as organizers work to implement measures to make shoppers and vendors feel safe and comfortable.
Both farmer's markets — as well as Southlands Farmer's Market and Stanley Marketplace, both in Aurora — will operate on a regular schedule this season, aside from the delayed opening weekend date.
All four farmer's markets usually open on Mother's Day every year, but statewide stay-at-home orders forced organizers to push the opening date back.
The Parker, Castle Rock and Southlands farmer's markets and Stanley Marketplace are owned by Williams Family Markets and Jason Williams, of Parker. Williams also owns the Local, a boutique retailer in downtown Parker.
“This isn't going to be the market you're used to, but it's going to be more important this year than ever because the vendors need the support now more than ever,” Williams said.
Farmer's markets have been deemed an essential business by the official state order.
For the first time ever, locals can have farmer's market products delivered to their door.Williams Family Markets are implementing virtual shopping with software designed by Oregon-based Local Food Marketplace. The software essentially works like Postmates, the online food ordering and delivery service, for farmer's markets. Shoppers can select items from specific vendors at a given farmer's market and have them delivered.
“The virtual market is really important because everyone who wants to support the market has the opportunity to support, and these vendors have a way to get their products out there,” Williams said.
“All of them depend on this. They plan their year around this. They build their schedules back in January and plan around the entire farmer's market. Some of them only sell at farmer's markets, so to make sure we still have that outlet for them and give the customers as many options as possible to purchase from them is really important.”
Williams said he considered introducing the technology several years down the road to help extend seasons for vendors. Though the first physical day of the farmer's markets is June 7, Williams plans to have the virtual shopping option available as soon as possible.
The virtual shopping platform will be a permanent option for farmer's market shoppers going forward, Williams said. Williams Family Markets will need to hire more personnel to handle deliveries to accommodate the service, he added.
The physical market will look a little different than year's past. All vendors will be outfitted with masks and gloves. Only the vendors will be allowed to touch the products. And six-foot social distancing guidelines will be enforced.
Also, there will be no samples, and no trying on clothes, hats or accessories. People can still walk the streets, peruse the booths and shop at their leisure. However, patrons are encouraged to move along and avoid gathering in groups.
“Our number one priority is to put together a market for those who choose to come out and shop the market as safe as it can possibly be and they feel comfortable. We are able to accommodate the people who can come out and the people who just don t feel comfortable or who just aren't ready yet,” Williams said.
“I never want to get away from the personal farmer's market. The purpose of the farmer's market is making it a great community event,” Williams added. “That's what it's always been, and we don't want to lose that…but our hope is to get back to a more traditional market where people shop these local vendors, see their neighbors, grab a coffee and stroll the market.”
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