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Farmers Market Vendor Finding New Forums

by Sally Carroll | May 28, 2020 at 5:00 a.m.

One McDonald County-based small business that relies on tried-and-true methods of selling at a local farmers market is researching other ways to boost sales.

McKeever Mountain Farms co-owner LaSandra McKeever said she believes the farmers market, launched just last year in Powell, provides a forum like none other.

"Folks want to purchase handcrafted items in person so they can see, touch, feel and smell items," McKeever said. "It's more of an experience."

Covid-19 concerns have kept officials with the Powell Historical Preservation Society from hosting the Farmers Market. Board members have not met recently to discuss the matter, due to health concerns, board member Tiffany Norwood said.

McKeever's organic jam and jelly business utilizes the Farmers Market as its main selling format. Her sales have been negatively impacted by 75 percent, she said.

McKeever is not able to provide details right now but is thinking outside the box for additional forums.

So far, she's partnered with a new business, Tall Pines Distillery, located in Pineville. A Hillbilly Champagne jelly is being sold exclusively to the distillery, she said.

It's a partnership that benefits both parties, Tara Cook, Tall Pines Distillery co-owner, said.

The jelly is sold individually or can be added to a gift basket.

The distillery is offering a variety of gift baskets.

Customers choose from jars of pickles, salsa and a variety of products to complete their basket.

Cook said she's excited to have a local partner that could utilize her products along with theirs to create "something new for the consumers."

"I'm excited ... she makes wonderful products!"

McKeever is one of several vendors who participate in the Powell Farmers Market. From jewelry and leather products to flowers, baked goods and produce, the market offers handcrafted items and products straight from local farms.

McKeever also utilizes online shopping. People can order, and the jams and jellies can be shipped.

Still, in-person markets offer a different take on selecting items.

"Our community enjoys coming to the market, in-person, to socialize, support local farmers and the Powell Preservation Society. Social media doesn't offer the experience of what communal gathering does," she said.

"In my opinion, this pandemic has inflicted fear and will forever change our community. We may want to rethink options and offer parking or a drive-thru so everyone can enjoy the market however they feel most comfortable."

McKeever hopes the forum can be brought back at some point. She understands, however, the concern that people have.

"We need our community and we miss seeing everyone but we also want what's best for the people in our community, not just making a sale," McKeever said.

Norwood said that some PHPS board members are considered high-risk, or have family members who are high-risk, so most board members don't feel comfortable meeting right now.

"The last update I have from our board president is that all PHPS meetings and events are postponed until further notice," she said. "I know from personal conversations with a couple of last year's vendors that they are not currently comfortable with regular markets right now either."

In the meanwhile, PHPS is utilizing social media to share updated information and highlight vendor products, she added.

General News on 05/28/2020

Print Headline: Farmers Market Vendor Finding New Forums

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