With the start of the new summer market season, new leadership and a somewhat new format for the busy attraction.
After a turbulent few months, the Sidney Business Association will run the popular Sidney summer market, which starts June 7, with some changes from former years.
“We have 120 vendors in less space than before. It’s been very dramatic trying to fit them all in,” said Patti Anthony, the SBA’s executive director. “The vendors have been absolutely fantastic and very co-operative.”
In all, 165 vendor stalls will line Beacon Avenue for this summer for the market. That’s down from more than 200 vendors last year.
The change means some vendors are sharing tables, while others can only attend every other week. Vendors were reduced to allow gaps between some stalls, increasing visibility for merchants behind the sidewalks.
Food stalls are slightly different too, with space for up to eight on Second Street and eight more on Fourth.
The changes come after a group of Beacon Avenue merchants brought a petition to the Town of Sidney that outlined some negative impacts the market has on their businesses. Some said business dies as of 3 p.m. every Thursday and asked that the vendors line the middle of Beacon, rather than the sidewalks.
This led to a working group that determined the centre configuration wouldn’t work, but agreed on the changes being made by the SBA this year.
One of those Beacon merchants was Erin Middlebrooks, owner of Dragon Horse. She the petition for a down-the-middle configuration, but says she’s happy with the changes to the market thus far.
“I really do believe [the gaps] will help,” Middlebrooks said.
Vendors will be allowed to have covered tents over their stalls – “You have to protect them from the elements,” Anthony said – another bone of contention with some merchants, but fewer will have enclosed sides or backs.
“Town hall has been fantastic,” Middlebrooks said. “They’ve been working with everyone to make everybody happy. I’m actually really, really looking forward to the market this year.”
Discussions about trying a centre configuration have taken place and plans are in the works to use that layout on a trial basis near the end of this market season.
“That’s all I’ve asked for through all the meetings… the fact that there could be a trial this year I really believe it could work,” Middlebrooks said. “If the trial did work, the market would be spectacular for everyone.”
Ross Macfarlane, the SBA’s newly elected president after Edward Connor stepped down, said he plans to work with merchants to rebuild relationships.
“My big vision is to bring businesses together. There seems to be some discontinuation between a few of the merchants and the SBA in Sidney,” he said. “ We want to be the voice for business in Sidney.”
Macfarlane plans to begin a market review group sometime this summer to address concerns.
“The market review is going to be our main target to start with. The only way I can see it working is to meet people one on one.”