Corvallis Indoor Winter Market works to support local businesses through the pandemic

By Solomon L. Myers
This illustration shows an assortment of fruits and veggies for sale at the Corvallis Indoor Winter Market. The market is a place for local vendors to sell their hand-grown and cultivate produce.

Adam Figgins, News Contributor

The Corvallis Indoor Farmers Market will be providing locally sourced grocery opportunities from Jan. 9 to April 19, with local leaders continuing to prioritize vendor diversity in order to supply Corvallis residents with a wide array of options despite the ongoing pandemic.

Shopping can be done at the Benton County fairgrounds in Northwest Corvallis, either in person or through orders that can be made ahead of time.  Residents with EBT or SNAP benefits can purchase “market tokens,” which allow purchases within the market. 

Outdoor shopping allows customers to shop while distancing but masks are still required to enter the market.

Customers are encouraged to come in groups of one or two people, to prioritize distancing and keep traffic in the market low. 

Lynne Miller, is the market’s manager and president of the market’s board of directors and talked about the difficulty of selecting what vendors to not include at the market.

“The board of our market made the decision to draw the line at primarily craft vendors, so that we could prioritize food, while there are vendors here that do sell crafts, they’re also selling [food],” said Miller.

Meats, vegetables, CBD and snacks are available from local vendors like Brandywine Fisheries, Wild Yeast Bakery, Gathering Together Farm and approximately 37 other vendors. Not all vendors are available each week, and more information surrounding each week’s options can be found on the CIWM website and facebook page.

Despite operating at 50 percent capacity, community members are still supporting the market.

Lorie Bailey, a local resident, rides a bicycle to the market to get her groceries.

“The number one reason is to support locally grown food and businesses, [the market] tends to be fresher and has lots of organic selection,” said Bailey.

Bailey has been a long-time patron of the market and mentioned because of COVID-19, the market is now just an errand when it used to also be a social event. She also said while the lines are a little bit longer, the vendors do a good job keeping everything going so people do not have to wait long.

Suzanne Smith from Krazy Woman Ranchemphasized the importance of markets like this for small businesses. 

“This is our opportunity to get out in the public and meet people, and that’s where you really make your business grow [through] the relationships that you’re building with people and the repeat customers that come back,” said Smith.

She mentioned how she finds it important to support local businesses in order to also support small growers and families that may not work a typical 9 to 5, thus relying on markets like the Corvallis Indoor Winter Market.

Miller is also selling at the market through her business Slippery G Family Farmand talked about the importance of the market to small businesses. 

“For me this is how we make our living, and I am self-employed, there is no way for me to quantify this to get unemployment compensation” Miller said. “Most of our vendors here are people making their living doing this.”

Miller estimated over the past year, sales are off by about 25% on average, market-wide, because of decreased business due to COVID-19. She said that supporting local businesses keeps the dollar within the community and that she prioritizes shopping locally for her own business supplies as well.

Miller is also focused on providing the community different kinds of vendors at the market.

“We’d like to increase the diversity of the products we offer, it was huge for us when we got Brandywine Fisheries a few years ago,” Miller said. 

With a focus on increasing diversity, providing a safe place to shop and working to grow her own business, Miller is leading the market despite the struggles caused by COVID-19.

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