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P.E.I. artisans get creative to sell wares while COVID-19 restricts craft fairs

Patricia McLean runs Oh Fudge! P.E.I Potato Fudge in Souris. She has had to change up her business a lot this year and is seen here working her station at Founders Hall’s pop-up market with employee Mike Wallis. Noah McNeill/The Guardian
Patricia McLean runs Oh Fudge! P.E.I Potato Fudge in Souris. She has had to change up her business a lot this year and is seen here working her station at Founders Hall’s pop-up market with employee Mike Wallis. Noah McNeill/The Guardian - SaltWire Network

Patricia McLean’s fudge pulled her out of the water this year.

The Souris artisan, who runs P.E.I. Seaglass and Oh Fudge! P.E.I. Potato Fudge, two businesses which benefit from tourists and also local events like craft fairs and artisan markets

She says her seaglass business suffered about an 80-per-cent drop in sales compared to last year because of COVID-19. She faced many challenges from the lack of tourism in the summer months and craft fairs being cancelled in the fall.

"Craft fairs take in a lot of money in a quick time, and there’s also exposure to all the people being able to come to one spot to do their Christmas shopping and support local," she said.

With her seaglass business in a slump, she turned her efforts to Oh Fudge! P.E.I., which she started in May 2019.

McLean’s fudge shop, which is usually open seasonally until September, will now be open through the winter. She’s also offering delivery to customers and she has been doing business online, mainly promoting through social media.

“Every day I’ve been posting, and I’m sure the people who look at my page every day are sick of it, but this is my business,” she said.

Marjo Langille is another vendor who has had to change how she does business this year. She also started going to Founders Hall’s pop-up market, along with promoting her product online through social media. Noah McNeill/The Guardian - SaltWire Network
Marjo Langille is another vendor who has had to change how she does business this year. She also started going to Founders Hall’s pop-up market, along with promoting her product online through social media. Noah McNeill/The Guardian - SaltWire Network

 

Marjo Langille is another vendor who had to change up her business this year.

“I normally sell my product by giving samples, and because of COVID that’s not possible,” she said. Langille sells homemade Christmas brew, a mulled drink made with spice bags.

Langille and McLean both set up at Founders Hall’s pop-up market, which opened in October and runs every weekend.

Craft fair organizers have also had to change their approach because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Explore Summerside and Evermoore Brewing Co. hosted the city’s first ever craft trail, an outdoor event with 53 vendors, in October. The event was hosted on the trails behind the brewing company and attracted between 2,000-3,000 people.

Rose Dennis, executive director of Explore Summerside, helped organize the event. Everyone was happy to get out to support local vendors and be able to buy within their community once again, she said.

“The vibe was really positive. People listened and were respectful of distancing on the trail, as well as being social in a safe way.”

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