The Usk Farmers' Market is exploring a way of extending its operation by providing the opportunity for customers to make orders online. The market is working in collaboration with Russell and Anna Walker, at the Willows Garden Centre, for there to be a collection of market produce orders on a more regular basis than the current twice per month. This will require customers to join as members where on an online account can be set up to enable the use of the tools. Application to become a member can be made using the form at this link. There is currently minimal development of the scheme but it is hoped that something of use can be evolved to meet the needs of both customers and producers. The mechanism will be trialed up to Christmas where orders for the Christmas collection market, on 23rd December, can be placed.
It is now twenty years since the market started and there have been some profound changes during its lifetime. While there are many that are affecting the market, one in particular that is transforming retailing in general, is the rise of online shopping and home delivery making the more traditional physical shopping a much less convenient option. A Farmers' Market offers a unique opportunity for customers to have direct contact with the producers of their food and a much more immediate contact and understanding of the nature of the products being sold. A recent conversation with Jo Hughes, who demonstrates her weaving at the market, debating whether she would enjoy more sales by using social media and an online shop as an alternative During the conversation a customer approached the stall and asked about a scarf which she then held and stroked and asked questions. That is the unique aspect of the market which is at odds with modern retailing where there is no element of direct human/product contact.
A downside of the market is that it trades for about 6 hours a month and even describing it as a market, in the traditional understanding, is questionable. Increasing the frequency is not an option as producers have other schedules and the demand from customers is insufficient to cover the costs.
This current scheme is designed to go some way towards developing alternative options and hopefully to create a collective approach with the aim of securing sustainable and robust local supply chains.
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