BALTIMORE — The COVID-19 pandemic couldn't stop the Whitehall Food Market from opening in Hampden.
Eight vendors are housed in the newly-renovated Whitehall Mill, which sits next to the Jones Falls off Clipper Mill Road.
One of the vendors is FireFly Farms, owned by Mike Koch and his partner Pablo Solanet. They make goat and cow's milk cheese at their farm in Garrett County and they are bringing their award-winning cheese east to Baltimore.
"We are pleased to be open and I can’t even describe to you how warm and welcoming we have been received by the immediate Hampden neighborhood and Baltimore in general," Koch said.
Down the hall, Annie Parker is getting ready for her first day in her first brick-and-mortar shop Homebody General Store. She spent several years selling her ceramics at craft and art shows and is now featuring her own work and the work of other artists, mostly women, in her store.
"I love shopping at small businesses. It’s more special than shopping at a mall or something like that," she said.
The other vendors at the Whitehall Market include Crust by Mack Bakery, Wight Tea Co., Gundalow Gourmet, Ceremony Coffee, Cocina Luchadoras Taqueria, and Heritage by Chef Rey Eugenio.
The vendors hoped to open earlier but construction delays and COVID-19 pushed back their opening to early June.
"There were tears and sleepless nights but I’m happy to be here now," said Parker. "I think we all waited so long already, what’s a couple more months?"
The Whitehall Food Market is open Wednesday-Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Customers can't sit and eat inside but they can get food and other purchases through carryout or curbside pickup.