Several members of the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market Co-op are opening their own store.
Shawnda Blacklock, a member of the co-op for the past 12 years with Benlock Farms, and Julianna Tan, a member for the past five years, said they are opening their own shop in December.
Blacklock said the idea came from the uncertainty around the future site of the co-op. The City of Saskatoon did not renew the Riversdale lease of the co-op and their new location, on Koyl Avenue, was only secured in mid-November.
“It is our livelihood… the farmers market is how we live,” she said.
“We’re not hobbyists. We run a cattle farm with a thousand head of cattle. We need a place to sell.”
Their new store, called The Little Market Box, is located on 16th Street West. It will also include an online delivery service.
“A lot of people are online and… what we wanted to do is fuse the farmers’ market with the trend of online exposure, online shopping,” said Tan.
Tan’s physical store, “Chocolate by Those Girls at the Market,” has already opened, though she says her business will be part of the new shop.
“We were at the point where we were really outgrowing our small, at-home kitchen and booth at the farmers’ market,” she said.
She said the new shop will try to overcome the challenges the farmers’ market faced.
“As someone who owns and operates our own business, (we)’re very limited in the amount of time (and) resources to pay for staff to have that presence (at the market).”
“Secondly… the farmers’ market is only open ‘x’ amount of hours in a certain location and some people just can’t make that work.”
Jordan Lohneis, owner of the Pig and Pantry butcher shop, supports the strategy. He opened his own store more than three years ago.
“One of the big advantages is being able to sell right out of the space, rather than producing and moving and hauling it everywhere,” he said.
“Having a permanent space, open five days a week or more, it just makes it more efficient and allows me to reach a wider audience.”
Tan said she’s excited for the new shop to open.
“What do we have to lose?” she said.
“The goal is to support the local producers and we feel that it’s a really new and innovative way to do this.”
The co-op’s last market in the downtown location is scheduled for Dec. 22. The new location, near the airport, requires renovations and the president of the co-op previously told Global News it’s not expected to be open until February at the earliest.