by BRANDI WILLIAMS, media contact for the People’s Cooperative Market
On Saturday, July 4, the People’s Cooperative Market hosted its on-the-ground opening at 3220 E. 3rd St. on the west end of the former Kmart lot.
The People’s Market is a woman-led coalition of growers, artisans, activists, and other community members who donate time, resources, and energy to ensure that Black and Brown community members can buy, sell, and share safely.
The market got its start in summer 2019 following citywide controversy regarding the owners of Schooner Creek Farms, long-time Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market vendors allegedly with ties to the white supremacist group Identity Evropa.
In the midst of the controversy, the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market’s took a two-week hiatus. During that time, some vendors chose to set up in the parking lot of Bloomingfoods East in order to provide the community with an alternative market experience.
Throughout the summer, vendors continued to donate time and resources to build a collaborative relationship with Bloomingfoods and maintain the space. The Bloomingfoods East community room became the hub for Eastside vendors through the winter season, formalizing the Eastside Farmers’ Market.
Since then, more growers, artisans, and activists have come together to create the planning committee for the People’s Market. The market’s grand opening was planned for April, but was put on hold due to COVID-19.
The People’s Market has been operating as a contact-free drive-through since March and will continue this practice in conjunction with its on-the-ground operations until further notice. The online store, open from 8 a.m. Monday to 5 p.m. Wednesday, provides shoppers with the staples, but has a more limited list of products than the on-the-ground location, which will offer seasonal vegetables, special plant varieties, prepared food, beverages, and more.
All vendors will practice COVID-19 safety guidelines as set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Throughout the market space, customers will have access to hand sanitizer and free facemasks upon request. Patrons will be asked to practice social distancing, wear a mask at all times, and send an alternative shopper if they are feeling sick. Parking is available on the east end of the lot near Clarizz Blvd.
Market shoppers who wish to use their SNAP benefits, paying just 50% of their total market basket cost, can continue to shop through the online store with Saturday pickup at Artisan Alley.
Ensuring food security for those in need is one of the missions of the People’s Market. Community members are encouraged to donate a sponsored box to feed families and individuals experiencing food insecurity or to donate funds to support those using their SNAP benefits to shop. Both options are available through the organization’s website, www.peoplesmarketbtown.org.
The People’s Market is entirely volunteer led. Community members are also invited to donate their time to serve on Saturday mornings, staffing the on-the-ground market and drive-through, and to spread the word by following on social media and sharing posts.
The People’s Market is a fiscally sponsored program of Artisan Alley, an educational and creative cooperative hub for the Bloomington community.