Restriction on farmers’ markets target non-food sales

Local makers say markets are major source of sales and will adapt by moving online

Marchewka (left) and Riegler (right) stand in their booth at a farmer’s market back in 2017. Photo by SPIN

New restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 target the sale of non-food items at farmer’s markets. 

The restrictions, announced Dec. 2, represent a significant hit to many B.C. makers, with winter markets serving as a major source of sales, especially in the run up to the busy Christmas gift-buying season. 

Joey Riegler and Marlie Marchewka of Designs by M & J have been a fixture at the Sun Peaks Farmers’ Market since 2017, selling their hand-made stained glass art pieces. 

Fabricating the pieces is an intricate process, involving hand selecting the right type of glass, tracing out stencils, cutting and grinding and soldering. 

While in previous years, Riegler and Marchewka have been able to hit up the Sun Peaks winter market in addition to others that take place in the region; this year they are unable to. 

“Sadly, the worst case scenario for us did happen,” said Marchewka. “But, you know, at the end of the day, it could always be worse.”

Marchewka and Riegler estimate a significant chunk of their overall sales come from markets. The events, she added, also serve as a great way to interact with customers, many of whom have supported the small business for years. 

“Obviously being at Sun Peaks, and being able to attend our own local markets, has been great for us,” said Marchewka. “Without our local community, I’m not sure we’d be here where we are today.”

Marchewka and Riegler said they recognize that the pandemic has impacted many businesses and are grateful that they are still able to sell their wares by other means. 

“We’re not alone,” said Marchewka. “There’s a lot of people struggling… Everyone’s in this together.” 

Marchewka said the pandemic has forced the couple to speed up the development of their website. But that process is currently on hold, as the couple works through a flood of Christmas orders.

“We started working really hard with our social media, and we started developing a web page, which we’re still in the middle of,” explained Riegler. “So that is what we started focusing on as a Plan B.” 

Luckily, if you want to buy a Designs by M & J piece you’re in luck. 

Pieces are available in Sun Peaks at Alpine Images and in Kamloops at Far & Wide.

You can also reach out to them via their Facebook (search Designs by M & J) and Instagram (@designs.m.j).

Pieces range in price from between $8 to $200, with an average price of around $80.