By Lindsay Emery
Even though the weather is getting cooler and people are gearing up to search for gifts for loved ones, holiday shopping is different this year because of the pandemic.
Discomfort surrounding shopping indoors has forced retailers to look elsewhere to make consumers feel safe. The First Congregational Church of Chappaqua is trying to ease local residents’ worries by adding an outdoor holiday market to their annual Christmas tree sales.
Rev. Dr. Martha Jacobs, the church’s senior minister, visited farmers markets this summer and found that some vendors struggled through the summer and fall because of the lack of events. Jacobs thought that the church could supplement selling its Christmas trees with an outdoor Christmas market to support local vendors into the winter season.
“We’ve sold Christmas trees here for years and years and years and thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to give vendors a chance to have a place to continue to sell their wares,” Jacobs said.
The church’s congregants were supportive of supporting local merchants who lost opportunities to sell their products last summer when events were canceled. Jacobs said as a church, it is important to collectively support people, especially during the pandemic.
Jacobs’ discussions with sellers led to more than 10 vendors agreeing to sell their merchandise, ranging from chocolates to health and beauty products. All vendors are required to bring their own tents, since the outdoor holiday market will be held rain or shine.
The market will also require patrons to wear masks and the retailers must follow social distancing protocols with tables and tents set up at least six feet apart. Jacobs also hopes that the church can provide an alternative outdoor activity for families, couples and individuals looking for a gift.
“They [the vendors] will require the people they deal with to wear a mask as well so we’re really trying hard to make sure everyone is safe and also have an opportunity to kind of do something a little different maybe than just going for a walk in a park,” Jacobs said.
Ultimately, Jacobs wants the tree sale and market to drive patrons not only to the local vendors, but also the stores in nearby downtown Chappaqua.
Even though the holidays will be unusual compared to prior years, First Congregational Church is adapting to meet the needs of the community.
“Something may be a little different because our holidays are not going to be what they have been in the past this year,” she said. “Hopefully people will be smart and will have smaller gatherings and a smaller Christmas, perhaps so that next year can be that much better and hopefully people are here for next year.”
The Christmas tree sale and outdoor market is open during weekends through Sunday, Dec. 20. It is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. For more information, call 914-238-4411 or visit www.fcc-chappaqua.org.
The First Congregational Church of Chappaqua is located at 210 Orchard Ridge Rd. in Chappaqua.