Monday, June 2, 2008

Milton Farmers' Market: Week 3

Mmmm... berries... and meat...


After speaking with Ann, I spoke to a couple of other people and now have a slightly better idea of what's going on with changes to the policy regarding spaces for stores at the Farmers' Market.

Essentially, we're talking about two different things. At one point in the market's history, store owners on Main Street were allowed to set up displays of their wares on the street to 'fill in' empty spots. That practice was discontinued a few years ago, and now stores are only allowed to put out tables on the sidewalk a maximum of four or five feet from their door.

The exception to this was the designation of a few specific spaces reserved for store owners to promote their business and sell their wares. As I mentioned, when my husband had a store on Mill Street (a block over), we were allowed to set up a table at the market for a few weeks out of the season. It did wonders for promoting a store that didn't otherwise get a lot of people walking by.

I wasn't sure originally who was responsible for these spaces, but after contacting the Market liaison for the Chamber I have found out that they were leased for a reduced fee by the DBIA from the Chamber for the use of DBIA members. This is apparently the program that is being discontinued. How or whether this applies to Ann painting out in front of Dorland-Haight I do not know, but I wouldn't want to be in the room when they send someone to tell Peter.

Given that the whole purpose of a Downtown Business Improvement Area is to promote downtown business, you would think it would be a no-brainer.

Here is the email I received from the Chamber. I will also email the DBIA and see if I can get an explanation from them.

Thank you for bringing this mis-information to our attention. The Milton Downtown BIA Board of Directors made the decision this year to not support the Milton Farmers' Market by purchasing the space at the market. Their financial contribution went to assist our advertising program to bring people into the Downtown to attend the market and learn about the downtown.

As you can see the decision to not allow the merchants space on the bumpout portions of the sidewalk was made by the BIA itself. Our policy has always been to partner with the BIA and we were surprised by their decision as well. Downtown businesses within the closed off portion of Main Street are able to set up tables within three feet of their storefront according to the town by-laws. However they cannot impede pedestrian movement and that is why it must be close to wall of the building.

The Farmers' Market brings farmers/producers/specialty vendors plus crafters and non-profits onto Main Street 22 weeks per year and attracts thousands of shoppers/visitors to our community. In order to inform thoses shoppers we must advertise the market on a continuous basis in a variety of ways.

If your husband has a business Downtown and he is upset by the decision of the BIA Board of Management perhaps he should speak to the Chair of the Board. To again clarify, the Chamber has never provided free spaces to the Downtown merchants - the BIA provided free spaces to them via a contribution to the Chamber.


Sandy Martin

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