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Carbondale winter farmers market gets new home at University Mall
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Carbondale winter farmers market gets new home at University Mall

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CARBONDALE — The Carbondale Community Farmers Market will have a new home in Carbondale’s University Mall this winter.

The announcement came Wednesday on Facebook that the market had been “cleared by all of the powers that be” to occupy the east end of the mall, near the movie theater. The announcement said there will be an in-person market as well as an online ordering system with curbside pickup. The announcement also said COVID-19 precautions will be taken for in-person shoppers.

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“It is essential for our customers, farmers/vendors and community that we have it,” said an October post announcing that the winter market was happening.

In previous years, the market had been held at Carbondale Community High School. Libby Ervin, market manager, said the school reached out to the market to say they couldn’t host this year.

“We can’t have outside organizations or people in,” Ervin said, recalling the message from the school.

She said that news came in the summer, and she and her team started looking for other locations. They toured some big box store locations that were open, but she said one set of doors and huge, open space didn’t seem to be a good fit for the market. But when Ervin talked with mall management, the option of the east entrance corridor near the movie theater seemed to work well.

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“It’s going to be drawing traffic into the mall and the stores,” Ervin said of the mutual benefit for the market and the mall.

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“We want to support local in every which way we can,” she said of drawing traffic to stores in the mall. She said she knows some of them are big chain stores, but regardless, they support the community and employ people in the area, which is important.

Ervin said the mall location also has other benefits.

“We like the fact that all the different (public transportation) come directly right there,” Ervin said.

As for how things will work, she said some vendors, like prepared goods and craft vendors, might rotate as the market has shrunk to accommodate safety restrictions. Ervin also said customers ordering online will choose a pickup time for their order to keep the flow of traffic even and safe. Ervin noted that those who use the Link Match program will be able to do so through the online ordering portal. Online ordering details will be coming soon, she said.

Ervin said she and her team are having to retrain customers on how to shop at this new, COVID-safe market. Normally, the farmers market is a social affair, but Ervin asked that people shop and go to avoid any potential health risks. But above all, Ervin said she hopes people will be understanding as they work out the kinks.

“We just kind of ask vendors, customers, everybody to be patient and flexible with us,” she said.

The market opens its season Dec. 5.

isaac.smith@thesouthern.com

618-351-5823

On Twitter: @ismithreports

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