West Side Market still brings Christmas cheer to Clevelanders despite year full of challenges

West Side Market still brings Christmas cheer to Clevelanders despite year full of challenges

OHIO CITY, Ohio (WOIO) - “There was a bigger turnout—actually— at the market,” Natalie Puts, the owner of Sebastian’s Deli, said.

She, along with dozens of other vendors, set up shop at the West Side Market to bring a little bit of Christmas cheer to Ohio City after such a tumultuous year.

Natalie wasn’t expecting much holiday business, especially after a poor Thanksgiving season. Still, she was pleasantly surprised at today’s turnout.

“As you can see a lot of places opened back up or new places have come, so it’s a lot brighter,” she said. “I’d say compared to March, March was just very gloomy, very dark, a lot of places closed down.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has also introduced different lifestyles and changes to everyday routines—it has also meant different business opportunities, which were on display in full force this Christmas Eve.

Narrin Carlberg, from Narrin’s Spices and Sauce, says she hasn’t been able to import the same sauces she used to since the beginning of the pandemic. Once her supply started to run low, she turned to more options that are closer to home.

“I’ve started to carry a lot more local products, from Columbus, Ohio, or anywhere in [the state],” she explained, “and I noticed a lot of my local products sell more than it used to.”

Of course, the market has also been the home to many vendors facing unexpected struggles.

Aiman Abraham from King Produce admits he’s lost 80 percent of his business this year. Regardless, this year won’t burn out his fighting spirit.

“To keep this business running from 30 years ago [to today], you have to sacrifice a little bit,” he explained. “The money we saved from couple of years ago, no we’ve spent them to keep the business going. Hopefully, by grace, that business will stay the same.”

As residents across Cleveland prepare to celebrate an enduring holiday of celebration and hope, Narrin also says this is a time to thank those that have helped vendors remain open this year: the customers.

“The customer’s the only one who decides if this business continues or all businesses continue. We can do whatever we want, change whatever we want but if the customer doesn’t support us, it’s not going to happen,” she said.

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