WEST ORANGE, NJ — After having a successful first year at the helm of the West Orange Farmers Market, coordinators Stacey and Rob Reese explained during this week’s West Orange Township Council meeting that although the market will still be physically located at 80 Main Street, sales will be handled a little differently this season.
“The pandemic has certainly thrown a wrench in our plans of course,” said Stacey. “This year, we are going digital, so you can buy all the products you know and love.”
While visiting shop.wofarmersmarket.com from May 16 to Nov. 21, shoppers will notice a digital interface of both familiar and new market vendors. According to Stacey, shoppers will also be able to shop by category this season in order to search for items not usually sold at the West Orange Farmers Market, including pantry staples and other items such as flour, orange juice and whipped cream.
“We’ve got bread, cheese, pickles,” she said. “I mean if you name it, we probably have it [but] if there’s something you need and it’s not on the website, please let us know. We’re always happy to add more things to the site.”
The vendors—which include regulars like West Orange’s Puras Paletas and Montclair’s Le French Dad as well as new offerings such as Kinsella Farms, which grows microgreens in West Orange—are all located within a five-to 10-mile radius of West Orange and are currently updating their offerings on the virtual market.
Both Rob and Stacey said that they are prepared to make the site available to shoppers throughout this season, but hope that social-distancing restrictions will be eventually be relaxed.
“We hope to keep this online platform and offering online pickup in the market going forward,” said Rob. “This is a bit of a proof of concept, it’s proving whether or not this is even feasible. Thus far, it looks very feasible, so our hope is that the investment into this technology is ultimately going to be around for some time.”
When ordering online, shoppers must place an order by 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, so that the items can be picked up on the upcoming Saturday. Orders made on Thursday, May 21, for example, can be picked up the Saturday, May 23.
“After you place your online order through the website, you’re going to wait until Saturday, just like normal,” said Stacey.
When shoppers arrive at either entrance on 80 Main Street in their cars, they are expected to remain in their cars so that all interactions are contactless. Additionally, in order to ensure that the right items go to the right vehicle, shoppers will be expected to provide the license plate number as well as the color and model of the car associated with the online order being picked up.
In order to avoid a long line of cars during market hours, which run from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., shoppers will be asked to arrive at a staggered timetable based on last name as follows:
- Last names A through D: 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
- Last names E through K: 9:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.
- Last names L through Q: 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
- Last names R through Z: 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.
“If you can’t make it please let us know; but if we don’t hear from you and you don’t show up, our vendors are going to donate any food that has been ordered and there are no refunds,” said Stacey, adding that it should not take longer than 15 minutes to load items into an open trunk or window.
Until further notice, no tents or in-person shopping will be permitted, and no pedestrian pickups will be allowed.
The West Orange Farmers Market is also in need of volunteers to answer calls, communicate with customers in their cars, troubleshoot orders and coordinate traffic at the market.