CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Charlottesville City Market is now a drive-thru through the parking of Charlottesville High School, and it’s going to be like that for the next few months.
The market was converted to a drive-thru earlier in the year because of COVID-19 and it’s still going strong, especially with it’s new location.
“I really had no idea how long we were going to have to be operating as a drive-thru," said City Market Manager Justin McKenzie. “We’re able to spread our vendors out and keep them safe from each other, be able to have our traffic move pretty well without having any congestion."
Most of the vendors, who serve roughly 300 customers each weekend, need the market to run as smoothly as possible to survive.
“The bulk of their profits come from markets and without this, they wouldn’t be able to sustain themselves and the farmland would probably go to some investor instead of staying in the hands of our local community," McKenzie said.
Vendors like Michael Clark say rolling with the changes is crucial. His business, Plant Earth Diversified, has been a market vendor for 30 years and was it hard by the pandemic.
“We’ve seen about at least 50% decline in business, restaurants are buying different things if they’re even buying anything," Clark said.
The drive-thru market is convenient, but they’re still working out a few kinks in online ordering and food transportation.
“You can start ordering Monday morning and it cuts off at Thursday and I get so many people that call 'Oh I forgot to call Thursday," Clark said.
But vendors and customers say the drive-thru is the safest and easiest way to support small businesses and, for now, it’s here to stay.
“We don’t have any plans to expand this to a walk-in market at this time because we want to make sure that the people who do not feel safe to come out a socialize have this ability and if we open it to open air, they may not feel as comfortable," said Kerrie Gibson of It’s Poppin' Time Kettle Corn.
Charlottesville City Market is open on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Goods can be ordered in advance through this link.