Last Saturday was the first outing of our Virtual Saturday Farmers’ Market. Just to set the picture, the idea of hosting a virtual market started a week prior and turned into a working reality within seven days — a tribute to the hard work and dedication of a small team of participants: Jerry and Julie Presseller, Steve Lineberry and staff at the Punta Gorda Chamber.

As in the world, nothing is perfect, but I am astounded at the progress that was made in just under seven days, using initiative rather than money.

The idea is simple: Connect our citizens in the safest way possible with food vendors that they have been doing business with for many months, if not years. Not all market vendors could qualify, since the mandate from our governor stipulated “essential items” only. This meant food items primarily. It also offered a fresh alternative to visiting large establishments to buy produce.

Without creating and spending a lot of money on a new, interactive website that could list all available products and prices, our collaboration has brought together a list of approved vendors on the homepage of www.puntagordachamber.com.

This site is best viewed from a desktop/computer. If you choose to view from a hand-held device, you will need to scroll down the page, past Chamber events, to the Virtual Market listing. There you will find the details and product categories of the participating vendors, along with their contact details. Wherever possible, we have included websites for you to view their entire product range, but many of these vendors are smaller, home-based businesses that don’t have websites, so you will need to email them, call them or visit their posting on the Punta Gorda Farmers Market Facebook page to see what they have to offer. Unfortunately, neither the Market Administration nor the Punta Gorda Chamber can answer specific product or price questions. We are just facilitating the vendors getting to market.


Order your products with them online before 11:59 p.m. on Thursday and your items will be delivered to 209 W. Olympia Ave., Punta Gorda, for collection between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday. No need to leave your vehicle. Drive through the parking lot at the corner of Olympia and Taylor, and an attendant will bring your items to you.

The May 9 Citywide Garage Sale has been further delayed, as it is unlikely that larger gatherings will be allowed by that date. We are proposing to move the event to June 13 and will keep all participants informed.

Just like any small business right now, the Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce has bills to pay. We are incredibly grateful to the following businesses who renewed their membership recently: Olsen, Lynch and Wright CPAs, Granny Nannies, 24Twentyone Event Center, Right At Home, Comfort Storage and Brookdale Senior Living — you are all heroes to us this week. Thank you for your membership.

Our hearts are truly torn by what our small business community is going through right now. So many are fighting so hard to keep their doors open and operate as best they can under increasingly difficult circumstances. As a community, please keep them in your thoughts and try in whatever small way possible to offer support to them during these times. We shall overcome all of this together, but our hope and goal is to make sure we all survive this together. This community is based on small businesses and we need to keep it that way for the future.

John R. Wright is President of the Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce. You can reach him at jrwright@puntagorda-chamber.com. Charlotte Sun is a proud Platinum sponsor of this Chamber.

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