Finding the Silver Lining in the Dark Cloud of Covid-19

Bandera Market is located just off the 1604 at Bandera

Address: 11625 Bandera Road, San Antonio, TX 78250.

Open Saturdays 10 am to 5 pm; Sundays 11 am to 5 pm. Special Friday Night Markets are held 4 pm to 9 pm.

For more information: [email protected]

ADVERTISEMENT. San Antonio Current news staff was not involved in the creation of this content. Please note, this report is not meant to treat or diagnose any illness. It is written for informational purposes only. If you have any health concern at all, please see a licensed healthcare professional.

How do you go from almost losing the site of your small business to growing your customer base while helping other small businesses and boosting the local community all at the same time in the midst of a global pandemic?

Ask Gilda & Vanessa Mitat Del Valle. They found a silver lining in the dark cloud of the Covid-19 Pandemic by helping other small business entrepreneurs and laid-off workers find a silver lining too.

Plan A: Pivot

Last March, the Covid-19 virus sweeping the world changed everything almost overnight. Suddenly, life turned upside down.

In an effort to slow the spread of the new, deadly coronavirus, San Antonio officials called for large-scale events to be cancelled and also directed schools, churches, bars, hair and nail salons, malls, independent retail stores to close. Soon everybody in Bexar County was instructed to wear a mask.

The weekend artisan market—where Gilda and Vanessa were vendors selling products from their local online and home delivery business, CBD Relief©—was also forced to close. Only certified farmer’s markets were allowed to remain open under the strict restrictions put in place in San Antonio, because food sold at these markets is considered “essential.”

Within days, the women learned that the owner of the artisan market was planning on permanently shutting down, because the cost of staying closed indefinitely was untenable for him. The market seemed destined to become one of the countless small business casualties of the pandemic.

It was bad news at the wrong time. Gilda and Vanessa had worked hard for four years growing their online CBD Relief© business. Their clients—who they met through their free home delivery service—had long been encouraging them to establish a place where customers could go and view and learn about the variety of all the products they had.

So, in 2018 Gilda and Vanessa began looking for a brick-and-mortar store. Nothing seemed to have all the amenities they wanted, plus the rental costs would force them to raise their prices. “We didn’t want to do that, because we saw so many people in pain and in need and on fixed incomes,” says Vanessa.

The solution they settled on was a custom-built trailer, a concept borrowed from the military, which uses trailers to park medical units or science labs at specific sites for extended periods of time. “We could keep our footprint small, maintain lower pricing on our products, and still give our customers a place to go six days a week to receive the personal attention they wanted,” explains Gilda.

After a lot of research and designing, they had a blueprint created and work on what they call the Wellness Wagon was underway. Meanwhile, they learned that they could negotiate a lease on a small spot in the Bandera Pointe shopping center property to permanently park it, just adjacent to the artisan market.

In the interim, they would set up shop every weekend at the market. That had been the plan. But even before the Wellness Wagon by CBD Relief© could be finished, the pandemic restrictions stopped it in its tracks—along with the community market. Now what?

As in most cities across the country, with no federal plan, confusion, panic, politics, and fear took hold in San Antonio. But Gilda and Vanessa didn’t just want to cross their fingers, say a prayer, and hope the virus would run its course sooner rather than later. They wanted to do something.

Risky Business?

Knowing how important the artisan market was not just to them and the other vendors, but the local community that supported it, they calculated the financial investment of purchasing the market from the owner, enlisting some local farmers, and reopening as a farmer’s market. Then they considered the potential risks of actually successfully running a farmer’s market in these dark viral days.

They balanced all that with the real needs of dozens of vendors and the ideal location of the soon to be extinct artisan market, on the westside just outside the bustling Bandera Pointe shopping center. Where others saw a “risky business” in risky times, Gilda and Vanessa saw an opportunity.

In addition to giving small family farmers, the artisan vendors, and other small businesses and individuals a place to sell their goods, the new market would have a positive impact on their local community. [Marketing research shows that when consumers buy local, 68 percent of every dollar they spend stays in the community.]

“The positives outweighed the negatives, it felt right, and we pretty quickly came to the conclusion that we had to buy the market,” says Gilda. “We were confident that we could make it work,” Vanessa adds.

So, in April 2020, Gilda and Vanessa sealed the deal with the previous owner, acquired his list of vendors, and immediately got to work, deploying their organizational capabilities and people skills.

Bandera Market: A Farmer’s Market is Born

A veteran U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman, Gilda had years of experience handling logistically complicated operations, including patient care and admissions of a busy Navy hospital in Florida. Vanessa, an occupational therapist, had logged years of experience working with children, as well as adults.

They rebranded the artisan market as Bandera Market, created a logo and launched a website. There, the women established a formal system for people to apply to become a Bandera Market Vendor, and a shopper’s page to post a list of vendors who would be selling their foods and wares on the coming weekend. In addition, they also created a special Facebook page for their new business.

In the mix, they filed all the pertinent application papers with the state of Texas to become a state-certified farmer’s market. [They received their official certificate from the state in December 2019.]

They then began reaching out to the vendors of the previous artisan market and began thinking about holding special events to draw in new vendors, as well as customers.

At the same time, Gilda and Vanessa created an operational infrastructure for the market itself. They established standard operating procedures, wrote rules and guidelines for the employees they anticipated hiring, complete with instructions on everything from how to answer the market telephone to how to process applications. They also began writing up the rules of the market road for vendors.

Soon, they began promoting the May 2020 debut of Bandera Market online. They also posted signs in the areas around the Bandera Pointe shopping center.

Safety Over Profit

Importantly, Gilda and Vanessa had been keeping watch on the evolving Covid-19 recommendations and guidelines posted by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), as well as the restrictions and mask requirement set by San Antonio officials, which would eventually be instituted statewide.

Much as they had done with their early CBD Relief© clients, they began educating vendors and shoppers alike. They researched and posted science studies on their website and Facebook page that showed it is safer to be outside rather than indoors.

“We decided even before we started that we were going to put safety over profit,” says Gilda. “As we see it, safety is non-negotiable. We wanted to make sure that our vendors and customers always feel safe while shopping outdoors at Bandera Market.”

In fact, Bandera Market actually made a little history by becoming the first farmer’s market in San Antonio that made hand sanitizers available to the public at no cost. “We spaced vendors’ tents 6 feet or more apart and also required them to have hand sanitizer in their tent for shoppers,” says Vanessa. “Everyone in the market—vendors and shoppers alike—were and still are required to wear masks at all times. And we posted signs every 10 feet that read ‘Masks Required.’”

Unlike in other parts of the state and country, Bandera Market vendors and customers have responded positively, not politically to the safety protocols. “They feel safe, they tell us. That means everything to us and the market,” Vanessa says.

The two women kept in touch through email with the market vendors on their list, informing them of everything they were doing, from their Covid-19 safety protocols to their marketing efforts.

On the opening weekend, Bandera Market took off. More than 40 vendors signed on to sell their fruits, veggies, beverages, cakes, pies, art works, crafts, and more the average number of vendors at the previous artisan market.

Harvesting Success

Although Gilda and Vanessa had seriously invested in marketing, they knew well that word of mouth advertising is the best advertising.

Providing a safe, outdoor space for vendors to sell their foods and goods, and for consumers to get out of the house, listen to some music, and safely shop while getting in a healthy walk all in the same outing is meaningful in these pandemic days and helps ease Covid-19 stir-crazy frustration. As the spring weekends came and went, shoppers walked, shoppers shopped, and shoppers talked.

Gilda and Vanessa also thought about and catered to their vendors’ needs, taking the time to work with those who were new to the market scene to help them learn the ropes and improve their sales. Throughout the summer, more and more new vendors turned up at Bandera Market.

As word continued to spread about the budding new farmer’s market, its new ownership, and the market’s safety-first protocol, the number of vendors steadily increased. In October, the market’s vendor spaces sold out.

The community’s almost instant support of Bandera Market was as awe-inspiring as it was humbling for Gilda and Vanessa. They responded by expanding, adding special themed Friday Night markets once a month.

Over the course of six months, the potential had proved greater, faster than they imagined. Best of all is that they were helping all kinds of people not only survive, but in some cases thrive. And that provided one of the most important things during this pandemic—hope.

As other small businesses have been forced to lay-off employees, Gilda and Vanessa have hired, to date, two new employees to work at the market.

We’re All in This Together

Since Gilda and Vanessa introduced Bandera Market into their westside San Antonio community at what may be considered the worst time ever to do such a thing, they have helped dozens of vendors stay afloat financially, while at the same time giving consumers a safe, fun place to shop. “Some of our vendors are local mom and pop farmers and small businesses that have been the hardest hit during Covid-19,” says Gilda.

Other new Bandera Marketeers are folks who have been laid off or sidelined from their jobs because of the pandemic; still others are looking for a side hustle to help them pay their bills through these economically challenged times. From small farmers to contractors, retail salespeople, teachers, and even a flight attendant all say the market has been a blessing.

In fact, for some of the laid-off newbie vendors striking out on their own, business has been good enough that it may be inciting a career change. “I love the market even more than being a flight attendant,” said the flight attendant. For others, it’s been a much-needed side hustle that is helping them pay the rent and the bills. Still other new vendors are proprietors of brick and mortar small businesses, who applied to become a Bandera Marketeer because their store traffic was down or non-existent because of the lockdown orders.

Basically, Bandera Market offers an opportunity for anyone who has been hit hard during the pandemic to survive and endure well through the virus restrictions. Provided, that is, they’re willing to put the work into it.

All of the blood, sweat, tears, and focus Gilda and Vanessa put into the market have paid off. Bandera Market is a lively weekend festival featuring a diverse collection of vendors operating in a welcoming and positive family-and-pet-friendly environment.

“When you come to the market to shop, you will find a little bit of everything Texas,” says Vanessa. “Many of the foods and crafts and other things sold here make really great gifts for both friends and relatives who live here and especially for those who live in other states.”

“And when you come out to shop at Bandera Market, you are supporting local families in the community, not CEO’s or large corporations,” adds Gilda. “You are also helping a women-and-veteran owned business grow so they can continue to provide much needed opportunities and jobs for people in the community.”

Getting Noticed

Last December,, Hispanics in Philanthropy, and Ureeka announced that Bandera Market was one of the 500 small businesses to be awarded a grant and mentorship from the PowerUp Program. With the $5,000 grant awarded to Bandera Market, Gilda and Vanessa plan to reinvest in the market.

The grants were made possible by’s $3-million-dollar contribution made in honor of National??? Hispanic Heritage Month (Sep. 15-Oct. 15 annually). Together with Ureeka—a platform built to support and grow underrepresented small businesses—the PowerUp Fund is helping grow Latinx small businesses and helping entrepreneurs build skills to continue that growth in the future.

Bandera Market Trending Forward in 2021

Bandera Market strives to always be as eclectic as possible and features a wide variety of vendors every weekend, as well as during its special themed Friday Night Markets each month. These Friday Night Markets are announced on the events page every Friday for the weekend or the Thursday before a night event found here:

Bandera Market is open Saturdays 10 am to 5 pm, and Sundays 11 am to 5 pm. The once a month Night Markets are held from 4 pm to 9 pm.

More than 400 total vendors are now on Bandera Market’s master list. On Saturdays, shoppers will be able to visit 60 to 77 vendors. On Sundays and during Friday night markets, 40 to 60 vendors will be selling their goods.

The first special themed Friday night market of 2021 will be held on January 15 and focuses on Health & Wellness. There will be a blood drive during the market and the food bank, veterinarian, massage therapist, and more.

Coming up on February 12th, the Friday Night Market honors Love & Black History. So, if you are a Black-Owned Business, reach out, we’d love for you to be a vendor.

Then on March 19th: the Bandera Friday Night Light Market will celebrate St Patrick’s Day and Women’s History.

Come April, if you’re a San Antonian, then you know that the April 16th Friday night market has to be all about Fiesta! No foolin’ about that.

The Friday night markets have become so popular that Gilda and Vanessa began a new tradition of four night markets in December. So mark your calendar and join them in December 2021 for the Bandera Market Christmas Shopping Bonanza. Santa will sleigh in and the whole family can take pictures!

Their success in the time of Covid-19 may seem somehow too good to be true or written in the stars. But Gilda and Vanessa attribute Bandera Market’s rise to the basics of good business.

“The path forward to success requires an ability to recognize an opportunity, to see the potential where others see the end of the road and having enough flexibility to pivot from where you originally expected to go,” says Gilda. “But perhaps most importantly, success really depends on your willingness to work hard, treating your customers well—and believing that anything is possible.”

Want to become a Bandera Marketeer?

Go to: Or call: 740-563-2274

The Wellness Wagon and CBD Relief©

Even as the women established the community’s first, much-needed farmer’s market, they grew their own CBD Relief© small business. “It’s been a win-win-win,” says Gilda.

The Wellness Wagon by CBD Relief©, is now open for business—safely—not just during the weekend and Friday Night markets, but from Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am to 9 pm. Customers may also shop online anytime at:

Gilda and Vanessa established CBD Relief in 2017 as a small business online, the first in San Antonio to offer same day delivery. But they didn’t just jump into this new world.

They took the time first to educate themselves about everything CBD, focusing first on the physiological impacts CBD had on the human body, and the manufacturing processes used to create the various products, and the people who produce them. It was the best medicine for starting a CBD business. They officially became CBD Coaches early 2018.

They knew well of the need for non-addicting pain treatments from working in their respective fields as a U.S. Navy medic and occupational therapy, and each had occasion to witness the effectiveness of CBD, and decided to explore its potential.

Their initial goal in starting CBD Relief© went beyond making money. It was more about helping people who needed a non-toxic, non-addicting alternative for relief of their pain, and getting accurate information out to their customers and those who would soon be customers.

At the time both Gilda and Vanessa were still working full-time jobs and weren’t entirely sure how quickly CBD would be accepted. These were the early days of CBD in Texas and there was still a lot of confusion about what CBD is exactly and whether or not it’s legal.

Marijuana—which is psychoactive because of a compound it features called THC, for tetrahydrocannabinol— is illegal. CBD—which features mostly other constituents of cannabis or cannabinoids—has long been legal, even in Texas.

It gets a little confusing for people in that marijuana plants and hemp plants from which CBD is derived are both the same species, yet the physiological impact that marijuana and CBD have on the human body are different.

Legally, hemp is defined as a cannabis plant that contains 0.3 percent, and that is the kind of plant from which the CBD sold at The Wellness Wagon by CBD Relief is derived.

Once they made the decision to start CBD Relief©, the need for educating their customers became immediately obvious. So from the beginning, they put education at the forefront of every transaction and interaction, adopting the motto: ‘Education first.’

Together, they worked with their customers one-to-one to talk about his or her needs and what CBD could and couldn’t do for them, and that, yes, it is legal in the state of Texas. In turn, their customers valued the chance to ask questions and get respectful answers.

By investing the time in the people who called them or were referred to them, the women grew their customer base one at a time. Over the course of their first two years, they also visited nursing homes and long-term care facilities and spent quality time there to educate seniors who could no longer tolerate opioids or other pharmaceutical pain reliving drugs. They told them about CBD, the science behind it, and how to purchase CBD products.

https://cbdrelief.careAs CBD Relief© grew, the customers they met through their free home delivery service began to welcome them not only with grateful smiles but thank-you hugs— virtual hugs these days. Their efforts during their first year or so resulted in moderate success. In 2018 the business continued to steadily grow.

Meanwhile, a deluge of CBD businesses and an increasing number of different CBD products flooded into the marketplace. But by then, the priority that Gilda and Vanessa put on educating their clients and taking time to get to know them, along with their same day home delivery service, had made them two of the most popular and trusted retailers of CBD products in San Antonio.

Although it took longer than expected for myriad reasons, including the Covid-19 shutdowns that began in March, The Wellness Wagon by CBD Relief© finally got on track. In October 2019, Gilda and Vanessa opened its doors just as planned, at 11627 Bandera Road San Antonio Texas 78250, bordering the area where Bandera Market sets up.

CBD is everywhere these days, but if you’re looking to do business with people you can trust, it may help you to know that Gilda and Vanessa have made it their mission to only sell products they trust from producers who legitimately and honestly test their products.

“Since we carry multiple brands, we have a variety of products for all your needs,” says Gilda. “All of our brands lab-test their products, and lab tests are available upon request.”

The CBD Relief© team is available for consultations. “We’re here to help you figure out which products work best for you and your budget,” says Vanessa.

Options are always good and when it comes to CBD Relief© and the Wellness Wagon, you have a number of options. You can order online or by telephone schedule curbside pick up at the Wellness Wagon or make an appointment or just drop in for a consultation or just to chat before you buy.

If you can’t make it to the Wellness Wagon, you can order online or by phone and request home delivery anywhere inside the 1604 loop. Mention this story and get free same day home delivery.

CBD is an acronym for Cannabidiol, which is a non-intoxicating molecule found in the cannabis plant. It is actually one of 100+ cannabinoids that naturally occur in the cannabis plant.

CBD Relief offers products in four main categories:


CBD isolate is a crystalline solid or powder that contains 99% pure CBD. An extraction process removes all the active compounds from the cannabis plant, followed by a refinement process that strips away all other phytocannabinoids, including THC, and any plant matter.

Since all plant matter has been removed, a CBD isolate only contains CBD. Isolate products do not contain any THC, terpenes, waxes or any other plant material. They contain one cannabinoid, which is typically that of CBD, although there are other cannabinoids that can also be extracted into an isolate.

Broad Spectrum

Broad-spectrum CBD is the middle ground between isolate and full spectrum since it has zero THC. It contains cannabidiol (CBD) and other cannabinoids like CBN, CBG, CBC and other compounds within the plant that are beneficial like terpenes. Broad spectrum can be useful to people looking for no THC yet want the added benefits of other cannabinoids and terpenes.

Full Spectrum

Full spectrum generally refers to products that not only contain CBD but contain the other plant molecules as well. Full spectrum sometimes also called “whole plant” extract, contains hundreds of different phytochemicals including cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds that naturally occur in the cannabis plant. Research has shown cannabinoids and terpenes work together to influence each other. This synergistic effect is called the entourage effect.

Raw Full Spectrum

Raw essentially means the product has not been decarboxylated, which is a fancy word that means “heated.” A raw CBD product has been extracted typically through a CO2 extraction and then cold pressed. This retains the raw cannabinoids CBDa & THCa, plus other essential plant compounds/materials only found in raw products. These compounds effect your body in different ways and appear to have additional benefits and has the most amount of cannabinoids than any other hemp product.

The last four years have been a long, but an extremely productive haul. And all in all, life is good and getting better. In addition to the two employees they have hired for Bandera Market, the women have also recently hired two employees for The wellness Wagon by CBD Relief.

The Education First motto continues. “All our employees are either in training to become a CBD Coach or have already become a coach,” says Gilda.

You can pony up to the Wellness Wagon by CBD Relief Tuesday through Sundays, from 10 am to 9 pm.

Or call the CBD Relief© team at: 210-366-4380. Or reach out via email at: [email protected].

And for more information, check out @cbdreliefcare on Facebook, and on Instagram.

The statements made in this sponsored post are those of the paid sponsor and not those of San Antonio Current, and are not intended as medical advice. Consult your doctor before undertaking any changes to your physical, mental or dietary health.


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