Outdoor markets quiet, yet to find their summer bustle

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Two of Ottawa’s premier outdoor markets are off to a slow start this year under novel coronavirus-throttled conditions.

At Parkdale Market on Sunday, only four vendors were open and many of the 30 stalls sat empty. Even among those open, inventories were low, a far cry from the bursting bins that shoppers have grown accustomed to in the summer months. At the Robinson stall — fourth-generation vendors at Parkdale — there are normally a dozen staff members bustling about, so busy that stock has to be resupplied three times a day.

On Sunday, there were but four staff there, fairly empty shelves and barely any customers.

Zach Dayler, executive director of Ottawa Markets, a municipal service corporation that runs Parkdale and ByWard markets, explained the various factors at play during the pandemic.

For one thing, the markets are only open from Thursday to Sunday, meaning all the produce left over Sunday has to be trucked back to farms or storage coolers, a big inconvenience compared with seven-days-a-week operations. It also makes the market that much tougher for resellers who get their supply in places like Montreal’s produce hubs.