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West Side Market Open, Stocked, Preparing Curbside Service

The city has designated two curbside pickup locations at the West Side Market - at the loading dock along the North side of the main building. [Annie Wu / ideastream]
West Side Market in Cleveland's Ohio City neighborhood

Cleveland's West Side Market remains open and stocked, with curbside pickup set to begin soon.

"(Curbside) should be up and running tomorrow providing some bugs working out and the city's helped us with that, where you could call your order in at your particular vendor," said Don Whitaker, owner of D.W. Whitaker Meats and president of the tenant association. "You choose, and they can run it out to you."

The city identified the designated pickup area in a Wednesday press release.

"Designated pickup areas are the loading dock behind the main building entrance and on Lorain Avenue, along the North side of the main building. Both areas are available for 15-minute pick-up and drop-off. Arrangements must be made before pickup. Customers must contact each vendor directly to place an order," the release said.

Whitaker said for now, the vendors' differences with the city have been put aside.

"I have no complaints," Whitaker said, referring to past frustrations from vendors of mismanagement by the city. "You know, our troubled past with them, but everyone is working together. They all understand it's a bigger picture than what was going on a month ago.

"They have designated cleaning people coming in and this new spray, this Fight Bac and all that that's supposed to be really good at preventing the coronavirus and everyone is working together," Whitaker said.

He noted foot traffic at the market is down because of the pandemic, but sales are up on everything except higher end meats. 

"It's been very busy in a weird kind of way," Whitaker said. "The social distancing, you can really see it. People, if they have call-ahead orders, they'll say they're there, they'll step back, they'll wait for it."

Tom McIntyre of Kate's Fish agreed that foot traffic is down, but his sales are steady.

"They're happy to see us, and I think a lot of people are just happy to talk to somebody or interact with other people at this time when everybody's kind of isolated a little bit," McIntyre said. "We've seen an uptick, an increase in business the last few days, people stocking up. The supply is good, so far, on my end. We bring in seafood direct from the coast and that hasn't been interrupted yet."

Whitaker said he sees bread in the market and his meat stand is selling out every day. 

"My suppliers are totally taking care of me, and I think there's extra meat out there, unfortunately, because all these restaurants are closed," Whitaker said. "They're hurting that way from the wholesale standpoint, but I haven't been shorted yet."

McIntyre added, it's an emotional time. He wants to stay open and help distribute food, but he's also concerned for his mother and father-in-law.

"I'm just nervous about seeing her and being in close contact with her," McIntyre said. "I went grocery shopping for her just two days ago, and I stocked her up pretty good so that she doesn't have to leave the house, but you're a little bit torn.

She has told me repeatedly keep the business open, and I haven't considered closing it at all. I just, not knowing what the future holds has been a little nerve-racking as well,"

McIntyre also said he's had some tough conversations with employees about what would happen if they had to shut down.

"My employees have expressed some concern about being in contact with as many people as we are in contact with at the West Side Market, and I think they're all, at this point, grateful to be employed right now as many of my friends and people I know are laid off," McIntyre said.

Whitaker said higher end stands might need relief, but he believes the city will be understanding if certain vendors can't open.

Glenn Forbes is supervising producer of newscasts at Ideastream Public Media.