GALT, Calif. (KTXL) — For 18 years, Jose Gutierrez has been selling fresh produce at the Galt Market.
“I feel like part of the family here. I have customers that come every week that looking for me,” he said.
For the last two weeks, his customers have had to go elsewhere after the market was shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic — a move that put a financial strain on the vendors.
“This is the way we pay our bills and it’s been two weeks that we don’t make any money,” Gutierrez said. “Really, we’re just staying afloat right now. We’re just barely surviving.”
The city reopened the farmer’s market on Tuesday after implementing several virus safety guidelines.
“We felt it was our duty to provide our citizens with an alternative source for certain products,” Galt Councilman Shawn Farmer said.
Farmer said only select vendors selling produce, canned goods or hygiene products were allowed.
In addition, vendors set up more than 20 feet apart to maintain social distancing, some pre-packaged items were made available to speed up transactions and mobile hand-washing stations were set out.
“I think that the safety protocols and the things that are being followed here are just on par or even safer than what’s being followed in some private businesses,” Farmer said.
The Galt Market has been around for 50 years and while there were fewer customers than usual and even fewer vendors, those who attended were happy to see it return.
“I needed to get out of the house,” shopper Herold Murray said. “I just thought this would be a good way to walk around, get some fresh air and look at some fresh produce.”
But few were happier than the vendors who rely on the market to make a living.
“It means a lot to all of us because, you know, everybody’s got families, everybody’s got bills to pay and if it gets back on track, well then it’s one family less that has to worry about paying their bills,” Gutierrez said.
The Galt Market is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.