Carol Carrier’s last nine days were full of uncertainty.
The longtime flower seller and board member at the Bethesda Farm Women’s Market relies on the indoor market for her business. After a customer accidentally rammed her car into the back wall of the market on Nov. 6, knocking the building off its foundation, Montgomery County’s Department of Permitting Services deemed it structurally unsound and didn’t let anyone in.
On Friday, the car had been pulled from the building and the market was open again. Carrier was back in her familiar spot.
“The hardest part was just sort of dealing with the uncertainty,” Carrier said. “Until the structural engineer and the county signs off on things, you just don’t know what’s going to happen. I just hope we can move forward and get back in the groove.”
The market compensated by setting up tents behind the building for some of its indoor vendors to work outside. The market, opened in 1932, is open on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and regularly has vendors in front of the building, at 7155 Wisconsin Ave.
Andrew Barnet, who sells naturally-raised meats and eggs out of the market, opened his Open Book Farm space just a few days before the accident. His refrigerators full of product don’t really translate to an outdoor setting.
“Eighty years and there’s no accident, then we show up and there’s an accident,” Barnet joked. “This is the only market that we do. We also sell a lot off the farm. For us, we can have these freezers and this fridge here all plugged in and it’s very nice.”
The damage estimate from the accident is at $8,000 so far, said Market Board member and treasurer Ray Renn. That number is expected to rise, especially since the historic designation of the building requires the back wall be replaced with the same material there before.
Fortunately, the market was able to salvage two windows from the portion of the building knocked in by the car.
“People came in and they were very much just devastated that we weren’t open. It’s like a meeting place for a lot of people. You’ll bump into people you haven’t seen in 20 or 30 years,” Renn said. “We see the same faces every week. It’s a social gathering, landmark type thing. We get a lot of that.”
Carrier has produced flowers on her two-acre lot in Laytonsville for sale at the market for more than 35 years. Last Saturday, with the car still lodged in the building and vendors outside, Carrier said she felt support from market-goers.
“I have wonderful customers,” Carrier said. “I really do.”