Several local farm-to-table markets and groceries are prospering during the coronavirus pandemic, reporting increased customer demand even as the stores contend with decreased supply from distributors.
Pag-Omar Farms Market, located at 222 Butler Road at Wellsboro Junction, is operating with regular hours.
“We’re capable of staying open,” said Marian Butler of Pag-Omar Farms. “We have our take-out sandwiches and our deli; the tough thing is figuring out what we need and making sure we order extra of what people really want.”
Butler noted that the store is short of flour and yeast, and the bread supply is dependent on what her delivery drivers bring.
“Our driver is being shorted on bread, so we get what we get,” she said. However, Butler notes that Pag-Omar has eggs, potatoes and vegetables in abundance. Staples such as butter are also being supplied on a regular basis.
Butler said that, due to the configuration and size of the store, “social distancing” is not much of an issue at Pag-Omar. Management has removed all tables except one from the seating area. Customers can fill out their deli slips at a safe distance at that table and the deli will then fulfill the order.
Owlett’s Farm Store and Seed Supply and Sunshine Market, Route 287 in Middlebury Center, is operating with regular hours.
“It’s more like May than March,” said Greg Owlett. “It’s steady and very busy. People are coming in for the garden stuff earlier than usual. I worry about the flowers – people seem to be more interested in vegetables right now. I have greenhouses growing for us right now, our hanging plants and other flowers. We’ll have all the plants that are needed, when the time comes.”
Owlett also noted that their sales levels are normal or even above normal, and that although inventory may be temporarily depleted – especially flour, yeast and eggs – it is current in a day or two.
Owlett’s store is up-to-date on food and baking items, although supply needs to be replenished every few days. At the time of this writing, the phone was ringing and there were many customers.
Shady Grove Natural Market, at 144 Tioga St., Wellsboro, is operating with regular hours.
Bridgette Markell of Shady Grove reported that business is very brisk, attributing that to customers “being at home more with family and needing to stock up.”
She added, “Our health conscious customers of more than 40 years know that we always have what they need.”
Shady Grove is continuing to do special orders. Deliveries arrive regularly, perhaps with lesser quantities, but because of the niche market of many of Shady Grove’s items, suppliers are able to furnish merchandise as per usual.
Markell notes that the small space of the store is an issue with social distancing.
“We are working on educating our customers that it’s a good idea to come in one at a time and to avoid touching more merchandise than is needed. It’s a small space, and difficult to stay six feet away from one another in here,” she said.
Markell also said that if customers need bulk food, such as herbs or teas, that customers will be asked to not touch them; employees will handle and bag bulk items. Surfaces are being sanitized regularly, but customer mindfulness is appreciated.
Stony Fork Country Store, at 2748 Stony Fork Road, is operating with regular hours.
Joann Martin, of Stony Fork Country Store, reports that the store has had runs on butter, milk, bread, flour, and deli meats and cheeses. As of this writing, however, the deli was fully stocked, and most grocery items were plentiful.
The store regularly receives deliveries, and, Martin said, “If we don’t have it now, we’ll have it next week.” Martin says that due to the small footage of the store, “Staying away from each other is difficult. Our customers try to be polite and do the right thing.”