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'We're down to like survival mode.' Nashville Farmers' Market open despite big drop in foot traffic

Market house restaurants, shops forced to adapt
Bubble Love
Posted at 6:08 PM, Feb 11, 2021

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Good food continues to be served inside the Nashville Farmers' Market despite a sharp drop in visitors.

Some days, foot traffic is down to 25% of pre-pandemic levels. Two businesses left the market due to COVID-19. Batch shifted to e-commerce and the retail shop Ethiolicious closed.

But the ones that are still open said concessions have helped over the last year.

"We went from maybe ordering three cases of pork butts to ordering maybe one a week," said Jess Skinner, co-owner of B&C BBQ Market. "There was definitely some unfortunate waste that came at the beginning, but we've adapted. And now we're sometimes getting pleased that we've underestimated the level of the business."

When the market was closed from March to May rents were waived.

At this point, a majority of the vendors have applied for grants and received several thousand dollars in CARES Act money from the city.

"I've applied for every grant," said Anna Fields, owner of Bubble Love. "The PPP, everything that I can to keep my employees employed, and we've stayed alive."

Anna Fields' business Bubble Love serves bubble tea.

"We're down to like survival mode," she said.

According to the Nashville Farmers' Market, weekend traffic is ticking up. It is about 70% of pre-pandemic traffic. The busy days make the stress and struggle worth it to vendors.

"People are masked up, but they can enjoy themselves at the tables with their masks off, and it's kind of nostalgic. Like, I watch people enjoying themselves, and it feels really nice to be a part of that," Fields said.

The market house at the Nashville Farmers' Market is open every day of the week. Two additional tenants will be announced this spring.