A convoy of cars waits to "visit" with alpacas during one of Harvard Alpaca Ranch's drive-through tours.
Many alpaca farmers were already poised for success at the beginning of 2020, a vast majority having e-commerce websites, customer email lists, and active social media pages from which they could stay in contact with their followers. At the beginning of the crisis, farms like Northern Solstice Alpaca Farm began offering virtual farm tours to bring the alpaca farm into the homes of their visitors. Harvard Alpaca Ranch found overwhelming success offering drive-through alpaca farm tours. Their first was so successful (over 80 cars attended and over $800 was raised for charity!) that they ended up offering not one, but three iterations of the popular event. It wasn’t long before alpacas were outside windows cheering up quarantined nursing home residents, or meeting new friends through Zoom meetings at Apple Hill Farm. Despite everything, alpacas continued to capture positive attention around the globe and alpaca farmers put the “Do Good” in “Feel Good, Do Good.”
|A Changing Landscape|
Consumers found new ways to feed their families after “Big Agriculture” struggled to meet the demands of a strained food system, leading to crowded grocery stores with empty shelves. Local farmers, co-ops, and CSAs offered a safer alternative allowing customers to purchase fresh produce directly from the person that grew the food. More and more individuals began purchasing shares in their local CSAs, guaranteeing them access to a regular supply of healthy food. Now both customer and farm reap the benefits of a person-to-person sale. Farmers finding success in these trying times hope that consumers will continue to support local agriculture as restrictions ease up and farmer’s reopen, and chances are that many will.
|A Clearer Consciousness|
How will stores deal with the excess inventory of product they have accumulated since closing?
|A Strange New World|
The world may have changed, but our love for alpaca remains!
As farmer’s markets begin opening up across the country with a variety of new safety precautions, it’s likely that these past few months will make a lasting impact on shopping habits, translating into sales for small businesses. Online shopping has become more popular across a wider range of demographics than ever before, so there is no better time to focus on updating your email lists, focusing on your social media pages, and fine-tuning your e-commerce site.
Who knows what other changes could be just around the corner? You may see a surge in customers as more remote workers move from the city to suburbs and rural areas, or perhaps you’ll attract novice crafters who learned new skills like knitting during quarantine. Sentiment is up as we all adapt to this strange new world. We’re hoping that U.S. Alpaca emerges stronger than ever, due to the can-do spirit of our farmers and the push for more local, sustainable products from consumers. Let’s do this!
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