Pop-up store pops up for good

Out of Hand opens its doors on Thursday to offer locally made food and gifts

A former pop-up holiday store is reopening on a permanent basis.

For the past five years Out of Hand, a cooperative of local artists, bakers, farmers and other artisans was opened over Christmas. The vendors split the expenses and all the money goes back to them.

While the timing may seem strange to open a store while most retail outlets are closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, store spokesperson Lynn Nugent said this is what Smithers needs right now.

“We are trying to get a lot of local food from farmers, it is one of the reasons I wanted to be open year around and because so many people are needing food right now with the pandemic, it seemed like delaying [the opening] wasn’t the best manoeuvre,” she said. “Going ahead was better for the farmers and for the community that wants local food.”

Nugent added she’s heard there has been a huge uptick in people buying directly from farmers since the pandemic hit in March.

“I think people are suddenly saying they want to support local people and it can be tough getting food from other places. So I think the time is exactly right to start something like this and help people access local farm food.”

Nugent said getting food from farm to table has been a passion for hers for a long time.

“It has been 25 years since my mom was one of the founders of the Farmers’ Market. So for 25 years my family has been trying to work towards finding a way to make local food accessible and convenient for people and to help support local farmers,” she said. “The Farmers’ Market is fantastic but it is only one half-day a week and other stores, because they are working on a for-profit model, they have to charge too much commission so local farmers and craft people can’t afford it. Our hope is to boost local food production.”

The store will have frozen meat from local farms with both organic and grass-fed options. There will also be pea shoots this week but within a week there should be spinach and lettuce and as the season goes on there will be more produce. There will also be honey, chocolate, jams, bread and baked goods.

Out of Hand will also stock locally made soaps, hand lotions, baby items and other art will also be available.

The store is opening on Thursday, May 7 in the old Gone Hollywood building on First Avenue.

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