Brewery Market celebrates 10 years amid pandemic

By Victoria Walton

The Halifax Brewery Farmer’s Market is marking a full decade since the market cooperative that exists today formed in July 2010.

“There’s been a market at that site in the Keith’s building on Lower Water Street since about 1983, and it was one of the few markets around. Things changed a little bit 10 years ago and the market shrank a wee bit and formed a co-operative,” says market board member Bruce Wright.

Wright tells NEWS 95.7’s The Sheldon MacLeod Show that the brewery market has looked a little different since COVID-19 began.

“The last market that we had was on March 14 and then it was closed after that. The Board has been looking at a small neighbourhood goods store during 2019 and suddenly we got it off the ground after the COVID pandemic hit,” he explains.

Instead of an indoor market full of vendor booths, the neighbourhood goods store in the market is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

“[Vendors] leave the material in the store and then our staff take care of it, display it and people can come in with the usual COVID restrictions,” says Wright.

Because of the easing of restrictions, there’s currently an additional outdoor market on Saturday mornings until 1:00 p.m. at Hollis Street and Lower Water Street, with about 15 vendors.

Wright says the market has gained a lot of new customers during COVID-19 due to shortages at grocery stores and the push on buying local.

“We’ve gradually built up a very loyal clientele. We have some wonderful customers who come every week and get a large amount of their groceries and their meats and their fish,” he says.

Wright hopes this new clientele will make up for the lack of tourists and students in Halifax this summer and fall.

“We’re really hoping that our customers and people that have started to view the market as a necessary place to shop will continue their habits of shopping local,” he says.

The board member says they’ve been trying to communicate with all their vendors about how to help them through the pandemic. Some have moved to online sales, while others have prioritized the neighbourhood goods store. The Brewery Market has also joined umbrella organization Farmer’s Markets of Nova Scotia in allowing their customers to do online ordering.

“The reason it’s been so successful is concentrating on looking after the vendors as part of the cooperative and concentrating on giving our customers the best possible experience at a farmer’s market,” Wright says.

Wright says the pandemic has reinforced the importance of buying from local farmers and vendors.

“We’ve seen how fragile things can be with something like the COVID pandemic,” he says. “So focusing on buying local, buying from somebody you know, you can look them in the eye this is the person who grew it, raised the meat or caught the fish, it’s very important.”

Although the tenth anniversary for the Brewery Market has brought many changes, Wright hopes it will grow and change to serve its customers for at least another decade.

“We all are hoping that the momentum which has been created by this pandemic will continue and people will continue to support us,” he says. “We’re looking forward to the next 10 years very excited about that.”

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