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Downtown Farmer's Market Ends Season Marked by Pandemic, Drought

John Smith

The Downtown Syracuse Farmer’s Market has closed up shop for the season after four months of selling everything from fruits and vegetables to homemade specialties.  But at the same time, it has been difficult for some business owners to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 20 merchants lined up in Clinton Square with the hopes of promoting their goods during the current economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Goodies Mediterranean Grill and Cuisine owner Chucri Ayoub describes how he is currently getting money to pay for bills to keep his eight-year-old business open.

“To be honest, we were closed for like four months. That’s been really hard because I’ve been borrowing money to pay the bills.”

Meanwhile, the pandemic has presented new opportunities for Avocado Salsa Dip owner Amelia Wasiluk.  She says she initially struggled because local store owners wouldn’t allow her to open up a demo stand in store to promote her homemade guacamole. Now, Wasiluk says her business is thriving after talking with local restaurant owners about using her products in-house.

“(The pandemic) reduced the amount of places I distributed to in the past but I consolidated into a couple of places where I sell more than I used to, so it’s been good for me.”

While the pandemic has challenged family-owned businesses in different ways, Maryinuk Farms owner Jim Maryinuk says that the current drought has created additional burdens for growing and selling his crops.

“The weather hasn’t been very good. We had a severe drought this year which hindered the production of the crops and of course with the pandemic it’s been tough trying to sell anything,” Maryinuk said. “We do have product but can’t sell it if nobody is here.”

With winter on the horizon, the local business owners all share that they hope that the pandemic is over in the spring so they could make up for lost income.