WORRY TO WONDER
As winter farmers markets across northern Colorado shut down in March of 2020, Alexa Vasquez began to worry about what spring and summer would look like. She wondered how she would make a living since she relies on those markets to sell her products. Not only was Ms. Vasquez worried, but so were other market vendors.
That concern is what drew Alexa Vasquez to brainstorm new ideas.
FROM CONCERN TO CREATION
“I saw a Facebook post from another vendor friend of mine when things started shutting down who was like, ‘Oh my God, what do we do?’” “I responded and told her, ‘I have this idea.’”
While sitting at her kitchen table on March 17, Vasquez created a Facebook page called NOCO Virtual Farmers Market.
Her goal was to digitally connect vendors with people who want to buy locally made products – just like a typical farmers market, except without being physically at the market.
Vasquez opened up the group page to the public on a Wednesday night. By Thursday, the orders started rolling in.
“We had 10 orders that weekend,” she said. “I delivered them with my kids in the car and was just like woohoo, people are interested in this!”
Then it started to really take off and the next weekend, the Facebook page had more than 1,000 members, Vasquez said, and they filled about 100 orders.
People paid with Venmo, and Vasquez spent her days typing orders into a spreadsheet to keep it all straight. The vendor list also grew going from a few vendors to over 55.
GROWING COMMERCE, COMMUNITY AND SUSTAINABILITY
Though the whole thing started in response to COVID, Vasquez said she’s working to make the NOCO Virtual Farmers Market permanent and sustainable and is turning it into a “year round market” so members of Northern Colorado can continue to receive wholesome, healthy foods, artisan products and local business services each week.
Vasquez, has not given up on her goal; her dream is slowly becoming a reality, since that day in March when the group began, the NOCO Virtual Farmers Market went from Facebook to a multi-vendor website with a streamlined ordering system. That means fewer late nights in front of a spreadsheet for Vasquez and a more convenient, organized process for customers and our valued vendors.
COVID CONCERNS AND ENCOURAGEMENT
Vasquez said she knows the format may not work for every vendor or customer, but so far she’s heard encouraging feedback from vendors, customers and the community.
“People were really freaking out about the supply chain when (COVID) first started,” Vasquez said. “I think that’s why everyone flocked to the stores. The NOCO Virtual Farmers Market came in at the right time – there’s a new supply chain, a local supply chain that won’t leave the shelves empty and customers worried.”
HOW DOES IT WORK?
To place an order, become a customer or to register as a vendor, go to: https://www.nocovirtualfarmersmarket.com/.
For delivery on Saturdays, order between 4 pm Saturday through Thursday until 12pm noon, to give the farmers and vendors time to harvest your fresh food and prep your orders for delivery.
Delivery will occur each Saturday between 12 noon and 4 pm. You may also pick up your orders if you wish, at the downtown Fort Collins location between 12 noon and 2 pm. Information about pickups are posted on the website.
NOCO Virtual Farmers Market delivers customer’s orders to several northern Colorado cities with varying delivery fees depending on your location.
READY TO CHECK IT OUT?
If you are a customer and wish to give this new concept a chance, feel free to reach us on our website, we will respond to your requests or questions in a timely manner and we welcome communicating with our customers.
ARE YOU A CURIOUS VENDOR?
If you are a vendor with a product that you would to see if it could be accepted on the website platform, please reach out to Candida Marques at: firstname.lastname@example.org or register directly on the website at: https://nocovirtualfarmersmarket.com/vendor-registration/ currently the market is accepting applications for new vendors that supply farm produce and farm products all year long, as well all food vendors, beverage vendors, cottage food vendors, and local artists and crafters. Keep in mind that with the summer season fast approaching, food and gifts and premake or easily prepared meals will be on everyone’s mind. Join us, join our growing team of committed vendors and artisans, and most importantly join a committed online e-commerce platform that is women-owned and family-run. NOCO Virtual Farmers Market cares for the community and the people they serve.
Candida and Alexa