RICHMOND, Va. -- With the pandemic taking a toll on small businesses that depend on fairs and vendor markets to sell products, two small-business owners came up with an idea for a new type of market that highlights marginalized businesses while staying COVID-friendly.
The Safe Space Market is taking place every Friday at Lakeside Farmer's Market on the Northside.
The concept of a vendor market is familiar, but there are some unique rules to keep vendors and shoppers safe.
Only one shopper at a time is allowed per table, masks are required at the outside venue and fewer vendors are on hand explaining their products to make more room for shoppers.
Andy Waller, the owner of Dayum This Is My Jam, hopes this experience encourages people to come out and shop.
"With folks having a hard time, especially those that maybe have underlying health concerns or that are apprehensive to go inside of a building or go inside of a store that maybe isn't following all the rules of everything that exists right now, for safety measures, maybe they'll feel a little bit more comfortable or empowered to come to our market," Waller said.
The market is not only a COVID safe space, it's a safe space for everyone, particularly marginalized people and businesses.
All of the vendors are local and BIPOC or LGBTQ+.
Taylor Thompson, the owner of River City Selections, co-founded the market.
"We definitely felt like there wasn't a space or a market that was representative of the wider diverse community in Richmond, and so we wanted to create a space that's representative of all folks that is safe for people to come as they are," she said.
Waller said business has been tough since the pandemic started.
"We really have had to get inventive and try all these new ways and really shift and stay in the public eye or to stay relevant or just you know get people to still support us," they said.
Waller and Thompson know an outdoor market in February is a hard sell, but a successful kickstarter funded heaters and other supplies to get the market going.
"This is another way for me to give back and to again shine a light on so many businesses that do deserve that attention," Thompson said.
You can check out the Safe Space Market next Friday from 4 p.m to 7 p.m at the Lakeside Farmer's Market on the Northside.
In the event of inclement weather, the market will be virtual.