A vendor displays handcrafted jewelry at last year's Market on the Plaza. (Courtesy photo)

Whether shopping for locally grown produce, fine handcrafted jewelry and crafts, or even seeking to minimize your plastic consumption by beefing up on bulk supplies, Mountain Village’s Market on the Plaza has your bok … choy, that is.

Beginning today (Wednesday), the open-air market will return to the village for its 10th season, with vendors in Heritage Plaza offering their wares from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each Wednesday through Sept. 2. To offer the weekly outdoor market while abiding by public health guidelines for minimizing the spread of COVID-19, market organizers have implemented protocols for this year’s market season to help keep shoppers and vendors stay safe. Market-goers are required to wear facemasks, respect social distancing guidelines and remain at home if feeling poorly. Disposable facemasks and hand sanitizer will be available throughout the market, and shoppers are encouraged to “shop with their eyes, not their hands.”

“This is a historic year for Market on the Plaza in our 10th year, and we look forward to seeing the community come out to enjoy our beautiful mountain air while shopping local and supporting regional artisans and agriculture,” said Zoe Dohnal, Mountain Village’s business development and sustainability senior manager.

With most of the summer’s traditional events canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, many small business owners and artisans who rely on selling their wares at festivals and markets have been severely impacted by the sudden dearth of sales opportunities. The Market on the Plaza will offer a much-needed venue for vendors to connect with shoppers and offer their products while mitigating risk.

Colleen Thompson, a local jewelry artist with Moonbear Jewels who will be selling her Southwest-inspired creations at the market, says she feels both “overjoyed” and “cautiously optimistic” to be able to connect with customers in person again, given the many challenges imposed by the pandemic.

“One of the biggest challenges that I am facing as an artist right now is the cancellation of my summer events,” she said. “I typically have a booth during every single major event of the summer here in Telluride. It makes up the majority of my income for the entire year. I am suffering an enormous economic loss losing all of those events. My hope is that this will be the best Market on the Plaza yet. It has gotten better year after year with the hard work of Zoe (Dohnal), Kathrine (Warren) and the wonderful staff of Mountain Village. I can only imagine that it will continue to grow and that people will be so excited that it is happening that maybe, just maybe, we’ll have our best year yet.”

Geneva Shaunette, of Ghost Pocket Kitchen and Supply, also expressed optimism for this summer’s market, aiming to fulfill a community desire for access to bulk foods and supplies, thereby minimizing single-use packaging consumption while abiding by all current public health regulations regarding food packaging. The booth will offer bulk dry goods, including rice, pasta, nuts, flour, yeast and grains, as well as bulk cleaning supplies such as liquid soap and hand sanitizer. Eventually, she said, the booth hopes to offer the ability for customers to bring their own jars and containers and refill from large bulk canisters, but due to COVID-19 precautions will offer pre-packaged bulk sizes and reusable bags for the time being.

“We encourage people to hang onto the bags for the time when they can refill items,” she said. “We know that our community cares about the environment, saving plastic, getting rid of single-use packaging of all kinds and supporting sustainable commerce methods as much as we can.”

Other quality products to be found at the market will include farm-fresh produce, eggs, goat milk, cheeses, fruits and vegetables, jams and oils, along with artisanal leather goods, textiles, jewelry, soaps, and healing products.

“I encourage everyone to come out and support the market and our local farmers and merchants,” said Mountain Village Mayor Laila Benitez in a news release. “The Market on the Plaza is not only a place to pick up fresh produce, baked goods and prepared foods, it’s about safely coming together as a community to support our local economy and the neighbors that make it happen.”