First Ever Drive-Thru Farmers Market Season Online Sees Sales Results

Oct 29, 2020

As the Economic Alliance pivoted projects and workloads to meet the challenges and needs of members during the global pandemic this year, large scale community events like the 2020 season of the Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers Market, presented by Cedar Rapids Bank and Trust brought a big opportunity for flexibility and thinking outside the box. At the beginning of March, the understanding of how this virus would impact and eventually force many summer events to postpone or cancel completely, was unknown. Ultimately, it would take away those face-to-face interactions and the gathering of crowds that make the Farmers Market so energetic and memorable. The easiest thing we could have done was cancel the season completely, but we knew it was far too important to our small businesses and equally important for our community to have a little piece of summer normalcy.

Our organizational mission and values drive us to create space for locally owned businesses, farmers and entrepreneurs bring their products to patrons. We were not going to give up on them! We still wanted to create a market season, but how? After a lot of critical thinking and research – the Drive-Thru Market format came to life.

Within the new Drive-Thru format, we received feedback and constructive criticism.

We even learned of people joining us for the market for the first time ever, as their mobility had not allowed them to attend the in-person markets in the past. In total, we saw 1,587 orders placed via Shop Where I Live, with nearly $82,250 spent at local small businesses.

We sincerely appreciate our sponsors, especially Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust. This year wouldn’t have been possible without all our sponsors.

Predicting the 2021 Season

There is still so much uncertainty for 2021—the economy, local business health, not to mention the nation’s health and wellbeing! The Economic Alliance has worked hard to give our vendors the opportunity to stay local and provide platforms for growth. We’re constantly evaluating what we can do to make our market seasons even better—from creative entertainment to partnerships for good causes. One thing we do know is next year will not look like this year as we have learned so much and plan to build on it to create an even better community event in the future.

We are looking forward to the day where we can gather in person to celebrate small businesses again, embrace the ones we love, and spend money where it’s needed most – locally. Watch for news on the 2021 market season in the Spring.




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