Amid the pandemic, Denton Community Market showcases local businesses

Article Originally Published by Caleb Yum on North Texas Daily

Masked customers walk around a grassy lot on a sunny morning and chatter fills the air as shop owners speak of the products they have to sell. At the Denton Community Market, vendors sell locally-produced items directly to consumers in a farmers market-style event.

The Denton Community Market is currently open from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays at Carroll Blvd. and Mulberry St. under strict quarantining and social distancing rules due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are signs across the lot reminding customers and vendors of the required face masks, and all of the vendors are spaced at least 20 feet apart.

Caro Kauffman, interim president of the Denton Community Market, said the main goal of the Denton Community Market is to connect community members with local businesses and their products.

“It’s really just about being able to bring the products back to the community and being a place for people in the community to come and gain access to those materials,” Kauffman said.

All of the vendors at the market are local businesses within a 100-mile radius of Denton with their own locally-made products, Kauffman said.

Matt Gorham, the owner of local business Tree Folk Farm, prides himself on the locality of his business, as all of their produce is farmed in Denton rather than sourcing from elsewhere like many supermarkets.

“Not really anything from a grocery store is going to be this local, we’re five miles away,” Gorham said. “Everything we have here is from our farm, and the community market gives us a chance to be direct, farm to customer.”

Gorham admits business had been a little harder during the months the market was not open due to the pandemic, though he said he found other ways to compensate.

“It’s been a little bit more difficult, especially when the community market wasn’t open for two solid months during what is normally our peak season,” Gorham said. “So we started doing online sales and farm to pickup, and that really took off, so it kinda displaced the market for us.”

With the Denton Community Market open now, however, Gorham has been able to give community members who have not been on the website a taste of what he offers.

Combs’ Coffee is another vendor that regularly participates in the market. Combs’ Coffee owner James Combs said his business provides high-quality coffee while also focusing on sustainability.

“We’re a solar-powered coffee and cacao roaster as well as tea, wine, and craft beer purveyor,” Combs said.

Combs’ said while business has looked different this season, he is thankful the Denton Community Market is able to open up during this time. Having previously been on the market’s board of directors, he knows the challenges facing organizing the event.

“We just were not expecting them to be able to open back up just due to the whole restrictions that we had, originally the season wasn’t even going to happen,” Combs said. “We’re really thankful that they were able to figure it out.”

Though the market is now open, Combs and other vendors have had to adjust to the strict guidelines put in place every week in order to make an appearance at the market.

“If you’ve been here every week as we have during the season, it has changed almost every single week,” Combs said. “With what regulations are going on, it’s still not easy. We’re navigating it, we’re willing to participate and try and show up for our customers.”

Kauffman has been responsible for adjusting these rules on a weekly basis, making sure that the market follows all social distancing guidelines.

“We got about 40 vendors, normally we have about 100,” Kauffman said. “We’re doing it at a reduced capacity in order to be able to practice social distancing and stay safe, specifically among the vendors and the customers.”

Kauffman said the Denton Community Market also has a certified farmers program, meaning that they go to inspect the farmers at their location to make sure they are following sustainable practices.

In the end, the best part of the market, Kauffman said, is seeing the joy the market brings to customers and vendors.

“To give them the opportunity to be able to come and experience the market as just an experience,” Kauffman said. “You truly see the joy and happiness on their face when they’re able to get the stuff they’re coming to look for, and it means a lot to them as well as to the vendors… It’s a full circle, and that’s what the Denton Community Market is about.”

Featured Image: The Denton Community Market, located at Carroll Blvd. and Mulberry St., is open and will be following social distancing rules and requiring face masks. Image by Caleb Yum

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Source: North Texas Daily