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Local produce market aims to provide fresh produce despite COVID-19
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City Produce owner Leslie Callaway is doing all she can to keep her business open and customers safe during the COVID-19 outbreak. - photo by Erica Schmidt

While so many businesses are closing or limiting hours due to the coronavirus, City Produce in Dawson County is doing everything it can to remain open and operational — as well as safe.

Leslie Callaway, owner of the Dawson County produce market, explained that they are taking special precautions to ensure customers stay safe while shopping, including limiting how many people are allowed inside the store at once.

“We’re only letting one or two people in the store at a time,” Callaway said, “and making sure people are staying apart from each other.”

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City Produce is offering fresh produce to customers every day despite the COVID-19 outbreak. - photo by Erica Schmidt

Other precautions City Produce is taking include providing disposable gloves for customers to wear while picking out produce and hand sanitizer for customers to use at the register, according to Callaway. The touchscreen on the register is sanitized between customers, and the counters are wiped down often. The doors in both the front of the building and the back are opened each day so as to provide a cross-breeze through the store and keep the air circulating.

The produce market has been busy despite the rest of the outlet mall where it is located being closed. The store has been nearly sold out, throughout the COVID-19 crisis, Callaway said. 

“There’s a huge demand for fresh produce right now, and City Produce has it,” Callaway said. “We have regulars that come in here, or a lot of people come in for the first time.”

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Callaway has set a limit on how many customers are allowed inside at once to help avoid contact with others inside the store. - photo by Erica Schmidt

To replenish their stock, City Produce purchases fruits and vegetables from Atlanta State Farmers Market. Callaway or another employee makes the 124-mile round trip down to Atlanta every other day — and sometimes daily — to pick up fresh produce for local residents. According to Callaway, this drive has become a little easier since the coronavirus has cut down on the number of cars out on the road at a time.

“There’s no traffic right now;” Callaway said, “it’s just a straight shot there and back.”

While the store is currently operating under slightly different hours than normal, Callaway is adamant that they are doing all they can to not have to close their doors anytime soon if they can help it.

“I love what I do, and I love my community,” she said. “And I’m doing what I can to help by being open with the freshest produce money can buy.”