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Election Hub Live: Market traders on doing business during the pandemic

Local producers have been speaking to Election Hub Live about their experiences of running a small business during the coronavirus pandemic.

Political reporters were visiting Perth Farmers’ Market on Saturday 3 April to hear from local traders about their thoughts.

Perth Farmer’s Market was initially halted at the beginning of the pandemic, but was allowed to reopen in August and was moved out of its usual home in the city centre to the South Inch to help with social distancing.

Farmers’ markets have continued throughout the second lockdown but the market over the Easter weekend was the first where traders could sell non-essential items, not just food and drink.

Karen from Good Life Farming said tackling the pandemic had been tricky, but added it has changed people’s shopping habits.

‘People are changing their shopping ideas’

She said: “The start of last year was really tricky, it was completely shut down.

“Obviously farming still goes ahead, but for us who rely on coming to farmers’ markets for trade there was no other outlet.

“So [we were] learning to go online. However, the flip side is since the farmers’ markets opened up again in August it has been really well supported.

“People are changing their shopping ideas and supporting small and local businesses so I have seen a shift since August onwards.”

Others, however, have seen the lockdown as an opportunity and set up their business since the coronavirus outbreak began back in March 2020.

Lewis Macmillan was put on furlough from his job in a café, but decided to take the chance to set up his own coffee business called Dundee Bean Machine.

He said: “I was sitting at home – I used to work in a café and I was on furlough and I thought, what can I do?

“Continuing on until Christmas was unthinkable.

“I started this and I have been coming to Perth Farmers’ Market every month and it has kept me busy.”

During the pandemic the food and drink team at DC Thomson has been looking at the challenges small producers who rely on things like farmers’ markets have faced in the past year.

Julia Bryce, head of food and drink at DC Thomson, said: “These events are such important events for small producers, especially independent producers trying to get their products out in front of their customers.

“These events allow them to get out to a mass customer base, and people can taste their products, see their products and get one-to-one time.

“Smaller producers have told us they really miss these events.

“Not only do they get one-to-one time, it is a huge generator of income.

“These events are massive dates they work around, so to have them ripped away from them last year has been really challenging.

“How they have adapted is very much turning it online, investing in e-commerce and a shift to social media to get in front of customers across the UK.

“Farmers’ markets have been running throughout the pandemic in a number of different ways but as we come into the summer months it will be warmer and they are outside so there is the opportunity for social distancing.”

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