Two months after fire broke out on the roof of Peddler’s Village, about half of the vendors have returned to the flea market building at the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market.
Marcus Shantz, president of market-owner Mercedes Corporation, says about 35 of the 80 vendors have returned thus far, beginning on July 21.
More will be moving back in on an ongoing basis.
“The fire caused damage to the roof area, and the area that’s right under where that fire was is still being rebuilt – it’s boarded off and they’re finishing that area. The rest of the area it was really smoke and water damage. It’s water damage from both the sprinkler system and the firefighting. There was a lot of cleanup and so forth from that,” he explained of the process to re-open the building.
He says vendors will be more or less in their same locations as before the fire, noting there have been some improvements. There aren’t any final totals on the cost related to the fire and repairs, but he estimates if the damage done to the building was added to losses by the vendors it would be in the $1-million range.
Most vendors had to wait to be let back into the building because the market’s outdoors spaces are pretty well full in the summer, although a couple were able to operate outside.
Botanical Propaganda is one of the vendors that was displaced by the fire. They set up their booth outside temporarily while they waited for the building to be open to vendors again. Mariah Zervos was running the booth on Tuesday afternoon and noted their products are better suited for an indoor booth.
They’ve been back in Peddler’s Village since last week and have been selling at the market since December.
And they’ve even taken advantage of the latest Pokémon Go craze by making bubblegum scented Pokémon ball bath bombs, which were for sale on Tuesday.
Zervos said all their stock, which includes bath and body products like bath bombs and sugar scrubs, was damaged by the water.
Some 400 bath bombs were ruined, but they were able to quickly restock.
“It was easy for us to come back in because we make new product weekly. We’ve been pretty lucky,” she said.
It’ll take longer for other vendors as evidenced by some empty booths in Peddler’s Village this week, with just the vendor’s name taped to the wall.
Shantz says a few of the vendors might not come back at all.
“I think that sometimes has to do with if you were thinking of making a change or transitioning, this sometimes provides the impetus to say, ‘I’m going to call it and not do it anymore.’ There’s a few like that. I’m not aware of too many like that,” Shantz said.
He notes the market is grateful to the Woolwich Fire Department that worked all afternoon in the heat on May 26 to knock down the fire that had sparked while a contractor was working on the roof. Crews were called from St. Jacobs, Elmira, Conestogo and Breslau.
“This is a volunteer fire department in Woolwich, so you have people who are leaving their place of work and getting suited up to come out to help us out and we’re very, very grateful for it,” Shantz said.
This summer also marks the first full season with the new farmers’ market building open. The building opened last September to replace the main market building – a separate building from Peddler’s Village – that was destroyed by fire in 2013.
“It’s been very positive so far. Sometimes when it gets too hot it sort of slows traffic down, so we don’t need more of this heat. And I think for the farmers too if you want to be a farmers’ market you have to have a good season, so the drought affects us in a couple of ways, but no it’s been a good season and it’s in full swing,” Shantz said.
The St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market including the main market building, Peddler’s Village, the Harvest Barn, and the outdoor vendors is open Thursdays and Saturdays year-round, with an additional market day on Tuesdays throughout the summer until Labour Day.
“I think it was good to have people back and I think they’re happy to be back, but it is obviously a trying time for people. We didn’t really need this. It was something that we had to go through. I think people will be happy when it’s back to normal,” Shantz said.