With the web-based Statesboro Market2Go growing still further in the absence of the in-person Main Street Farmers Market, organizers are temporarily moving the now drive-up weekly delivery site to Uncle Shug’s on Main.
Just two weeks ago, the market’s managers changed the procedure at the established Thursday pick-up site, the Statesboro Convention and Visitor’s Bureau headquarters, 222 South Main Street. In response to social distancing directives because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a curbside service was established and customers were asked to remain in their cars.
Beginning on Thursday, that arrangement will be relocated two blocks south to 434 South Main Street, Uncle Shug’s on Main, the event venue that historically was RJ’s restaurant. Another hour has also been added to the period when customers will drive through to have online purchases loaded into their vehicles, now 3-7 p.m.
“We’re going to do this,” Main Street Market Manager Relinda Walker said Monday. “It’s going to be another fire drill for us. But we’re still getting the support of the SCVB with this process … and it is temporary.”
Customers are also being notified of assigned timeslots during those four hours.
Boom in demand
After the drive-up service was announced and the seasonal opening of the in-person Saturday farmers market postponed until May 16, online Market2Go orders grew nearly tenfold in two weeks, to $10,500 last week. Last Thursday, about 180 customers drove through to collect locally and regionally grown vegetables, meat and dairy products and artisan-made items.
Despite an effort to stagger pickup times over three hours, a surge in the middle hour resulted in up to four customer cars at a time waiting to turn in from South Main, which is part of U.S. Highway 301.
But Walker reports that she and Market2Go Coordinator Michelle Giddens talked to Uncle Shug’s on Main owner Stacy Underwood, who happily agreed to let them use the event venue as the weekly pick-up location.
It has large coolers and freezers, other storage space and a larger parking lot than the SCVB Visitors’ Center.
The plan is to make the traditional exit drive of the Uncle Shug’s parking lot the entrance and have drivers loop to the back of the lot and then along the front of the building to what was the restaurant’s traditional main entrance.
“We walked it yesterday, and this should keep us from having to have any cars out on the highway,” Walker said. “There’s plenty of room, and even if there were a backup problem, there’s room to have a pull-over into (parking) spaces.”
Meanwhile, the farmers market will continue its working relationship with the Statesboro Convention and Visitors Bureau, whose Executive Director Becky Davis is helping to get word of the changes to vendors and customers.
Shoppers sign up at statesboromarket2go.locallygrown.net to create an account. Then they select from the vendors’ lists, now totaling more than 500 items, and place orders between 8 p.m. Friday and midnight Tuesday.
By Monday, with a full day to order remaining, the dollar value of this week’s orders to be fulfilled Thursday reached $10,000.