Pop-up market brings the store to shoppers

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By MIKE EDDLEMAN

With area grocery stores facing long wait lines and being stretched to the limit for goods, some creative distribution is making life easier for some shoppers in the area.

Danette and Joseph Wicker found a way to help others and their own business at the same time with their own version of a traveling market, which set up Tuesday in Stonewall Ranch.

The couple offers smiles and conversation from behind a handful of tables covered in box after box of apples, oranges, lemons, avocados and other fresh vegetables. Each shopper gets a pair of gloves and is encouraged to give others their space as everyone looks for just the right items.

The effort to share goods in bulk began with a common need identified on social media.

“What I saw was on a Liberty Hill moms page where I hang out sometimes that everyone was having trouble at the store,” Danette said. “I didn’t want to go to the store and no one else wanted to go either so I put on there if people wanted to buy some produce and split it that’s what we’d do.”

After a few days, the demand quickly outgrew social media discussions.

“We’ve been doing it for about a week and it’s just gotten bigger and bigger and bigger over the last five days,” she said. “We’ve heard a lot of stories of people having to shop for their family who is in quarantine, and lots of young people out shopping for their elders in church. No one wants to go to the store and it just kind of became something more than what it was originally.”

The Wickers, who have been in Liberty Hill for three years, work in wholesale food delivery for restaurants, and that work has slowed in recent days. The added focus of doing local sales has turned into a blessing as business slows.

“A good deed actually became a reward so it turned in to such a blessing for us,” Danette said. “I thought people were being overly appreciative and saying thank you, because I was just seeing this as something quick and easy for people, and I had to realize the stores were actually without the things people really needed. When I saw the pictures from the stores and the lines, then I understood.”

She said people have asked most often for milk and eggs, beans and rice, and all of the items have been difficult to find at times.

“We’ve gone to two warehouses and they are absolutely out of every kind of bean you can think of,” Danette said. “Plain white rice, which is normally about $8 for a 50-pound back we can’t even get. We had to buy the $36, 40-pound specialty rice because there isn’t anything else here yet.”

For many who have found it difficult to get to the store for a variety of reasons, the opportunity to do a little shopping closer to home has been a welcome surprise.

“It is good for us because my husband is on call and he can’t leave home right now,” said Laura, who lives in Stonewall but preferred not give her last name. “We found them on Facebook last week when they were selling in Bertram and we went and got a few bags. We asked them if they could come to Stonewall. We knew everyone here would appreciate it. This is awesome.”

Until the Wickers are able to get back to their business full time, Danette said they will continue to work to meet the local need as much as possible.

“We’re just trying to get food to people who need it in communities that are requesting us to be there.”

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