Dear Decaturish – Your DeKalb Farmers Market and the CoronavirusYour DeKalb Farmers Market. Photo by Dean Hesse.
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Editor’s note: Decaturish previously published an article about what the Farmers Market is doing to protect customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. To read that article including a response from Your DeKalb Farmers Market owner Robert Blazer, click here. The company published a list of safety precautions on its website, which you can see by clicking here.
“He who hesitates is lost,” a woman said to me at the DeKalb Farmers Market after running her shopping buggy up on my heels for the second time. It was the early 80’s. I was fresh out of college and more than a little timid. I was coward and ran. (With menopause now behind me and a pocketful of confidence accumulated over the years, I suspect that story would have a very different ending today.)
Still, it was in that moment, that I began my 40-year love affair with the DeKalb Farmers Market. For close to 40 years, I’ve figuratively put “patience” at the top of my shopping list to ensure I don’t become that mean, crazy woman and then I’ve headed out – sometimes twice a week – to enjoy the madness of the place, not to mention the finest produce and best wine prices that can be found for miles around.
For close to 40 years I’ve enjoyed interacting with the persons ringing up my groceries. For close to 40 years I’ve enjoyed supporting a business that I understand employs so many Clarkston refugees. For close to 40 years, going to the DeKalb Farmers Market has been as much a part of my life’s routine as going to the mailbox.
The love affair ended recently.
For the third time in the last month I’ve walked in the farmers market only to have my anxieties soar from the minute I walk through the doors at the lack of precautions being taken to keep customers safe during this pandemic.
Far too many customers and some employees are not wearing masks. The only social distancing requirements are at check-out. When I saw that no one – still – was sanitizing the baskets or the carts (as they do at both Kroger and Publix), I determined to use my backpack, which I am always allowed to do at both Kroger and Publix during the pandemic. I am a cyclist, and it is sometimes my only grocery bag.
It went something like this: An employee told me I could not put produce in my backpack. I told her that if she did not want me to use it, she could have someone sanitize the baskets, and I walked away. A very nice man security guard told me I can’t use my backpack but that there is sanitizer if I wanted to sanitize my own basket. I did not want to touch the sanitizer. I cursed at him. Thankfully, he graciously accepted my apology as I was leaving. He was a security officer just doing his job.
Mr. [Robert] Blazer, it’s like this, I think. This community has been good to you and your family for many years now. It was a little tricky at first between us and you and your dream, but ultimately you got Commissioner Manuel Maloof’s endorsement, and you were off to the races. Since that time, I don’t know that you and the market have ever had anything but our support. Take1979, when the ice storm destroyed one of the market’s buildings and you had no insurance, it was this community as I recall that stepped up and helped you rebuild.
You, yourself, were quoted in 2016 as saying, “I liked the idea of operating a market because I was attracted to the relationship between fresh food and the wellbeing of people.”
When your customers have to choose between the market’s affordable, abundant, varied, organic produce and their own wellbeing, which is what they are doing now, that relationship is compromised, and at least this one very loyal customer feels betrayed.
– Nancy Luana Wilkes
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