Nearly a year after the pandemic shuttered the Yellow Green Farmers Market in Hollywood, it remains closed.
Marjorie Hollingshead and about 300 other vendors have had to find other ways to sell their products, with some owners even halting their business. But Hollingshead’s natural hair and skincare line has always been her main income, so slowing down wasn’t an option for her.
The 100,000 square-foot building resembles a barn from the outside. The building is located near downtown Hollywood about a mile from the Sheridan Street Tri-Rail station, and about five miles from the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Hollingshead felt that the building had the atmosphere and image of an authentic farmer’s market.
“It felt like a place where artisans who were passionate about their crafts could come together and share their products with customers that were equally open to buying them,” she said.
She adds that its large size and welcoming atmosphere made it a popular attraction, which increased the clientele to her business, Zainabu. The fact that the market only operated on Saturdays and Sundays did nothing to hinder this.
“I’d have people lining up at my shop first thing Sunday morning to restock their supplies,” Hollingshead said. “Once the customers found something they liked there, they’d be loyal to you forever.”
That loyalty would come in handy when the market had to shut down in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as her customers had no problem transitioning to her online store. But the management at Yellow Green Farmers Market has assured her she can continue once things reopen.
“The management there is great in how they’ve handled things, I have no complaints,” she said. “They have this system where if you paid your rent for March then it would roll over whenever they open up again, so you don’t have to worry about losing your spot.”
Yellow Green Farmers Market managers did not return requests for comment.
The booth reservation system still doesn’t relieve the issue of having to make money in the meantime. Some people, like Frank and Elizabeth Becker, weren’t in the same position as Hollingshead to keep their business operational.
“It was scary during that time period at the beginning of the pandemic,” Elizabeth Becker said. “We hoped it wouldn’t happen, but deep down we knew a place like this would be the first to shut down.”
The retired couple ran the Chillbar restaurant that was permanently fixed to that location, so they didn’t have a food truck that they could fall back on. They said that they aren’t sure how long they will stay in the business and they are considering handing the restaurant over to someone else in a few years.
“This restaurant was our retirement plan,” Elizabeth Becker said. “We still love our restaurant and we had a lot of fun being there. I’m always up for seeing where life takes you, but this adventure has made things a little too unpredictable.”
The Beckers said that until push comes to shove, they will do whatever they can to get by in the meantime. They are sometimes able to sell their homemade bottled sauces to restaurants. And as for the restaurant itself, they have been selling gift cards with no expiration date, so that it can be used whenever the restaurant is able to open again. This has helped them generate some sort of an immediate income while they wait for things to get better.
“At this point all anyone can do is keep calm and come together as a community,” Elizabeth Becker said. “Love and compassion are the only things we can bank on right now.”
Hollingshead also noted that she knows of some people in booths near hers that mentioned having to fall back on other jobs to get by.
“While this location is great, if you don’t have a business mindset then you won’t know how to capitalize on this momentum in order to keep it going and make it a full time gig,” said Hollingshead.
She claims her situation is different because of her 16 years of experience working in the Atlanta branch of Soft & Beautiful, a large chain hair care company. She credits the company for teaching her how to run a business while understanding what goes into making hair care products, something that would give her the building blocks needed to create her own line.
“I was in charge of their international market, which gave me the chance to go to different countries, make connections and see how to get customers in the door and keep them hooked,” she said.
The things that she learned were to attend many hair events or festivals and offer free samples. She’d do giveaways on Instagram and gave a 20% discount to customers that came to her booth at the market. This helped encourage customers to refer more people to her shop, and the samples enticed people that otherwise would’ve just glossed over her store while browsing. But regardless of her success outside of her physical shop, she hopes the Yellow Farmers Green Market reopens soon.
“You can’t beat that location and all the foot traffic it gets,” she said. “It’s one of the few places where you can find unique products that you’d never find at the Sawgrass Mall or some big Walmart, as big as they are.”
Since this article was written, the Yellow Green Farmers Market has announced a reopening date of Saturday, April 17, according to The Sun-Sentinel.