On March 17, the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce, which hosts the Imperial Farmer’s Market, announced all its events would be canceled for the next four weeks due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.
As the first weekend without many area markets comes and goes, vendors are wondering what this could mean for their businesses.
Karen Trekell, the owner of LatherMeUp, a homemade soap and bath and body business, said her business is effectively shut down and that she is worried about losing revenue.
“I'm trying to find some ways to do some more advertising online to try to get some online business going,” Trekell said. “Online business isn’t really my focus. I try to focus on the farmers market because I enjoy the interaction with people. They can smell the soap [and] ask questions."
Trekell, who has been a vendor at the Imperial Farmer’s Market for 5 1/2 years, said she has gained a consistent following and has many regular customers. For the time being, Trekell said she is taking orders from customers over the phone and mailing or delivering those products.
Richard Barnes, the owner of Numismatic Jewelry, which makes coin jewelry, also said his business is basically shut down.
“It’s not going to impact me personally because I have a full time job, but a lot of the people I work with at the markets are having to find alternative sources of income,” Barnes said. “A lot of them have a lot of stock that is basically going to go to waste.”
Judy Martin, the owner of Judy’s Handcrafted Creations, said that while she is disappointed the market is closed, she is glad proactive steps were taken to keep the community healthy.
“Sometimes, there are more than 10 people in my booth, so I can understand—for everyone’s safety, we've just got to do it,” Martin said. “It’s disappointing, but I know it’ll open up again, and when it does, it will be great.”
Martin, who makes hand-crocheted stuffed animals, kids' toys and blankets, said she was worried about everyone at the market touching her products and then her having to disinfect them later.
In a letter to its members, Keri Schmidt, president and CEO of the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber is there to offer support and assistance.
“On a personal note, please know that we are thinking about you daily and ways we can help,” Schmidt wrote. “You are not alone; we are in this together. We've been through hard things before; we will get through this. We are amazing, resilient, and creative.”