While many small businesses have taken significant hits during the pandemic, Cathi Westrop, owner of the Whitby Soap Company, has managed to ‘clean up’ in more ways than one.
“I would actually say that this year has been a great year in terms of sales growth for my business,” said Westrop. “I’m in a unique field of being able to provide cleansing products such as soaps which of course during a pandemic has been a big draw for customers.”
Westrop was one of the vendors on hand for the final Whitby Farmers’ Market day of the season Oct. 14 out front of the Whitby Public Library.
Like most market days it was full of vendors showcasing their locally produced and handcrafted items, from farm fresh vegetables to bath and body-care products.
Due to the risks of COVID-19, the ability to do your shopping while remaining socially-distanced and outside in the fresh air has never been more advantageous.
“I think customers are recognizing that the idea of buying their produce and their groceries from locally-sourced farmers and artisans in an outdoor setting has been very beneficial versus going into a mall or a big box store,” said Westrop.
The risks of COVID-19 did not stop Theresa Sorichetti and her mother Mary Gray from visiting the market for the fourth straight week.
“It’s a great way to get out, and you’re out in the fresh air and you’re supporting local producers which is important,” said Sorichetti.
As tech giants like Shopify Inc. see their stocks rise during the pandemic, and the convenience of having groceries delivered to your door increases, so to do the consequences of only supporting the big companies.
“We are definitely in an era where we are seeing the huge monopolies growing in leaps and bounds and it’s important that we actually keep the money local—we keep spending local—so that we can keep people employed—we can keep people with roofs over their head and able to pay their own bills,” said Westrop.
Westrop said she will continue working from her new website in the off season, where she has already seen a huge increase in fall sales.
As far as what the future holds, Westrop said, “I’m not worried. It’s not my nature to be worried. I tackle things as they come and figure out how we adapt to them.”
As we all deal with the changes to our daily lives brought forth by the pandemic it is important to remember supporting local businesses is more than simply an investment in the area economy.
“Local businesses are everything,” said Lois Child, standing proudly behind her display of various acrylic paintings. “They’re what makes a community. It’s what gives you your quality of life beyond earning an income. People need to have a cultural life as well.”
For these farmers, artisans, and artists, their quality of life blooms again in May, 2021.