In my old city is an old shed market that is constantly undergoing trials and tribulations. It is in the very heart of our city, being the spot that Native Americans traded their wares and the French built the city around. However, in my lifetime it has become a set of buildings without a plan.
The link below leads to a letter in our local paper and it and the ensuing comments are important to note as many of them come from some of the vendors at that market. I am not sure the entire story is being told in this letter- well, let’s say it is not, nor did the letter writer expect to cover 250 years of history in it. The letter writer is instead pointing out the economic impact of their work. I wonder if the management has an answer to that argument; they might, but it is not clear to me if they do.
I will add that as a farmers market organizer I ran a weekday open-air market in this place (while working as a market organizer for a well-respected local market organization) as a favor to this corporation and its history as our city’s market heritage. One of the only things I was glad of post-September 2005 was that my organization could delay the decision to reopen that location. We did not reopen that market. It was the only one of our 4 weekly markets that we ultimately did not reopen and had more to do with resources and new management unknown to us, then the potential of the place. But it was a difficult place to run an entrepreneurial market, and this is from someone who happily ran those other 3 as well as a multi-day holiday market every December.
There are many ideas that could work here, but none of them (in my mind) start with pissing off the existing vendors without a strong, appropriate plan to reinvent the base. I still am not sure the management knows who their target audience is and how to reach them. I am not sure they even know how to find their target vendors or how to work with existing vendors to maximize their hard work and the market’s investment. I am not even sure that the management understands the difference between festivals and markets or between the needs of storefront businesses and itinerate tradespeople and artisans.
In short, even though I study markets daily, I am not sure of anything when it comes to the French Market.