The Downtown Conway Farmers’ and Crafts Market located in downtown Conway strives to keep its customers safe while providing quality food and products.
Due to the pandemic, the market had to create new rules to keep both its vendors and customers safe. The new rules give several new restrictions. For instance, the rules prohibit food sampling, require vendors’ booths to be at least six feet apart, require vendors to sanitize their tables and require vendors to wear face masks.
This year, the market modeled its rules after a market in Seattle.
“[The market in Seattle has] one of the most stringent requirements, so I felt if we could align with them and follow their guidelines, then we would most likely be over planning and over protecting,” Downtown Conway Farmers’ and Crafts Market Manager and President Judith Allen said.
Allen said she felt over planning was necessary to ensure everyone’s safety.
Market vendor Peggy Gregory, who co-owns Almosta Ranch Apiary with Bob Gregory, said social distancing rules have not negatively impacted the market.
“We’ve been very pleased with the customers and the way they’ve adjusted to the market. Like us, they are glad to be out and be able to talk to people,” Gregory said.
When talking about the customers at the market, Allen said: “They are just really anxious to get back to society, even if it’s through a mask.”
The market has done well since it opened, and it has even gained new customers.
“We are definitely meeting new customers that we’ve never met before,” Allen said.
Besides the safety of vendors and customers, those in charge of the market care about the quality of the products the market sells. One way the market ensures its products are high quality is by following the cottage laws. Allen said these laws require the food sold at the market to have been produced or made by the person selling the food.
There is a system in place to make sure all the vendors at this market are creating the items they sell.
“We go to the farms, and we go to the bakers’ facilities. We make sure that everything they’re bringing to market they’ve actually grown [or baked]” Allen said.
Items vendors sell at the market include produce, jams and jellies, meats, honey, soap, bread, face masks, and crafts.
“It’s really important to know not only where your food is coming from but that it’s coming to you very safely,” Allen said.
The market also cares about helping veterans. This Saturday, many vendors at the market are offering discounts to veterans and service personnel for Memorial Day.
The market is located at 718 Parkway, Conway AR, 72032. The market is open every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon. At some point in June the market will open up on Tuesdays and Thursdays as well. The market will remain open until October.