Farmers market starts season strong

Linda Goguen, Linda’s Home-made Embroidery Gifts owner, left, assists Maj Juillerat with finding the right product.

The Tellico Village farmers market had a successful opening day May 27 despite cloudy skies and social-distancing measures.

The market was fortunate enough to open on its original start date, Lisa McCray, Tellico Village Property Owners Association program coordinator, said.

“It was probably the largest opening day that we’ve ever had,” McCray said. “Some of my vendors said they grossed more today than they have the entire time (in previous years).”

McCray could not say what led to the market’s success, but she suspects people were simply ready to get out of the house.

At the height of the day, the farmers market still did not reach full capacity. McCray said there were about 15 total vendors parked in the Yacht Club parking lot. Full capacity is anywhere from 20-25 vendors. More vendors will come later when their produce is in season, she said.

McCray was not worried about having to postpone the opening day because she knew she would be able to operate at 50 percent capacity if needed.

“Our market typically opens slower for things, produce coming into seasons, that type of thing,” she said.

Trish and Jeff Dean, Eco-Rich Farms co-owners, were not concerned about COVID-19 because they had participated in farmers markets that had their own rules that people typically followed for safety.

Hannah Smith, Sofie Soap owner and longtime attendee of the market, had some concerns about the start date but was relieved when it opened as scheduled.

“The people here pretty much do their part — wear face masks and stuff,” Smith said.

Smith had to make changes to the way she operates. Normally, patrons pick up items at her booth to feel and smell. Smith now places the item in a small basket and holds it up to the customer to smell.

Beck Rice, Beck’s Bauble Shop owner, is one vendor who changed her business model to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is Rice’s second year at the farmers market. Last year she sold leather products, solar fairy lights and dog treats.

“This year, because of coronavirus, my whole line has kind of changed,” Rice said. “I have 3-ply cotton — two layers of cotton and one layer of non-woven interface — in all my masks.”

Christina Deyo, Cook n Craft Academy owner in Loudon, experienced the farmers market for her first time and was pleasantly surprised. She moved to Loudon and opened her business where some Tellico Village residents attend classes and suggested she sell goods at the market.

She said it has been great to see her students come out and support the market while also meeting new people.

“It seems like it’s been a really good turnout,” Deyo said. “You don’t know what to expect with the pandemic, but everybody’s been out. They’ve been keeping socially distanced. It’s been working out great for everybody I think.”

The farmers market will be held 9 a.m.-noon Wednesdays in the Yacht Club parking lot. For more information, contact McCray at 865-458-5408 ext. 4131 or lmccray@tvpoa.com.