Some merchants in Sidney have their fingers crossed the Sidney Summer Market might look different this year.
Erin Middlebrooks, owner of Dragon Horse at 2408 Beacon Ave., said the weekly market is “catastrophic” to her business. The tents and activity on the street outside block shoppers from her door.
“From 3 o’clock till closing we might as well go home,” she said. “I thought, somebody has to do something.”
She and other merchants approached the town to draft a new model for the market after she collected 48 signatures on a petition that suggests a change to the model. Currently, vendor stalls line each side of Beacon Avenue, which is shut to traffic at 4:30 p.m. The backs of the stalls face the businesses, many of which close at 5 or 5:30 p.m., and the market starts at 5 p.m.
The town produced a diagram that shows the stalls back to back down the middle of Beacon. Sidney council will discuss the proposed changes at Monday night’s meeting (Jan. 9).
“It’s not possible. It’s a logistical nightmare,” said Edward Connor, president of the Sidney Business Association, which owns and runs the market, referring to the down-the-middle plan.
As vendors are setting up, they park their cars along Beacon until the market starts. Under the current format, there is room for cars to pass in the street. Were the vendors to split the road, a single parked car would block traffic, halting the set-up process.
Randy Humble, the town’s director of development services, is helping create a feasibility study on the proposed change.
“It appears it could be manageable,” he said. “It really comes to the logistics of it, how it would be set up. It’s preliminary. We’re still looking at the configuration of the report. We think there’s potential there in terms of feasibility.”
“This would go onto Bevan (Avenue) quite well,” Connor suggested as an alternative. “There’s not many businesses on there. You ask the merchants do they want to be there and they say no.”
Middlebrooks said she hopes council approves the change.
“Business in Sidney is hurting. We do want to work with [the business association] but we can’t afford to keep quiet anymore, literally, in a financial sense.
“We would like to see the quality of the market improve. This is a recipe for success. I think it’s a win-win for everyone.”
Did you know?
• The Sidney Summer Market happens every Thursday, starting in June
• Vendors each pay $50 per week for their stands
• Sidney Business Association makes about $30,000 from the market each year. Meanwhile, the Town of Sidney takes more than $15,000 of that to recuperate costs, such as policing and garbage disposal.