Late in February, I had started to notice that one of our spare freezers in the yard was acting up. It was just about full of frozen fruit and peppers I had prepared and stored from various sources during harvest season last year. The idea with the freezers was that I would be able to produce some of our JamBusters! products when most of the prime ingredients were out-of-season.
The idea worked and I had been producing items steady which tipped me off to something wrong with the bigger of the two freezers. George put a thermometer in it for a couple of days and found that it was chilling still but just to a safe refrigerator temperature rather than freezing. That was on a Friday. We knew we couldn’t risk leaving it over the weekend in case the freezer completely died.
So, we decided to skip vending at the Oliver Indoor Flea Market for that weekend (March 7/8, 2020) opting to save as much of the fruit and vegetables as possible in a marathon two-day canning session. George committed to helping with any task I needed him to assist with which made the entire job a lot easier. Canning extended into the Monday and resulted in 10-dozen jars of product.
By George’s estimation, we saved over 90% of what was in the freezer (we lost some pears, plums, and cherries) and managed to produce over $600 in inventory. It was a big job but it also gave us a good jump on having products available that may not normally be ready at this time of year so we were excited about how that could enhance our upcoming sales for the rest of the month.
We did vend the following weekend (March 14/15, 2020) and had solid sales although we arrived late on Saturday. Regardless, the crowd was large and sales were steady to where we finished the weekend with a total of 30 jars sold and a lot of Watkins sales as well. March is usually what we consider a transitional month where there can be a good weekend mixed in with some slow ones.
As the weekend progressed, conversations with management of the Oliver Indoor Flea Market shifted to concerns related to the current coronavirus situation. Currently, at the time I am writing this blog (March 18, 2020) there are just 186 confirmed cases in British Columbia. During the past weekend, several restrictions were put in place regarding the size of gatherings.
Since then, there have been several more restrictions related to travel, gathering size and many venues have been closed. The market management took a bold step early in the process and decided to close the venue down for at least the next two weekends (March 21/22 and March 28/29). It could remain closed for longer than that and both George and I supported the decision then and still do now.
Although not being able to vend JamBusters! products for the next little while is going to put a dent into our revenue, we are not alone. We are also fortunate that JamBusters! is not our only source of income and we truly feel for the other vendors who are affected by this closure. However, considering the reason for it, we would rather err on the side of caution until the COVID-19 virus is contained.
How You Can Help
Many small businesses are going to suffer a great deal with the many restrictions that are being put in place to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. If you live in a community with small businesses that are still functioning, please support them as best you can. We will be okay and are taking precautions and don’t intend to do any further sales until the Oliver Indoor Flea Market reopens.
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