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Eastside Market rebrands as People’s Market, moves online during COVID-19 pandemic

<p>A computer with the Bloomington online farmers market is displayed on a computer screen. The Eastside Market, located in the old parking lot of Kmart on East Third Street, has rebranded as People’s Market after community members disagreed with how the city handled issues of white supremacy at the market last year and is available for online orders and pick up from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.</p>

A computer with the Bloomington online farmers market is displayed on a computer screen. The Eastside Market, located in the old parking lot of Kmart on East Third Street, has rebranded as People’s Market after community members disagreed with how the city handled issues of white supremacy at the market last year and is available for online orders and pick up from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

This year, people will still have two options for where they can get fresh produce and market products in Bloomington.

The Eastside Market, located in the old parking lot of Kmart on East Third Street, has rebranded as People’s Market. Both the People's Market and the Bloomington Community Farmers' Market are online. 

Similar to the city market, people can order online and drive through the lot to pick up their products.

People's Market volunteer coordinator Abby Ang said the market formally launched online April 4 to coincide with the city’s market. People can order online and pick up from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. She said they changed the name to People's Market to show their goals of being inclusive and welcoming.

The market was created because several people in the community disapproved of how the city handled issues of vendors with alleged ties to white supremacy selling at the market last summer, Ang said.

Ang said the People's Market is currently using a community supported agriculture model. Instead of buying specific produce, people can buy boxes of pre-selected items. 

“It makes it sort of a surprise each week,” Ang said.

She said people can also sponsor families and buy boxes of produce for others by donating on the website or while buying food. Both the People's Market and the Bloomington Community Farmers' Market accept SNAP benefits.

She said the market is run by a diverse group of community members and vendors. The market has 13 vendors and is continuing to grow. 

Susan Welsand, known as the “Chile Woman,” said she’s vending at People’s Market this year instead of the city market. She said she moved because the city market updated rules to prohibit vendors from displaying any signs at their booths.

“To not be able to put up a welcome sign kind of blew my mind,” Welsand said.

Welsand said the People’s Market differs from the city's market because people who may be facing food insecurity can have boxes of produce and other items donated to them. 

She said the market planning committee had a goal of raising 25% of how much it costs to run and operate the market to fund market infrastructure, entertainment and inclusiveness, and the market has already surpassed that goal.

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