August 22, 2005
Vendors on the Downtown Mall could see their rent triple if City Council approves a new proposal. However, some vendors and shoppers aren't too happy with the idea.
Three years ago if you wanted to sell your own merchandise as a vendor on the Downtown Mall it would have been free. Now, the city charges $400 a year, but by next year the rate could increase to $1,200 a year.
"If you compare it to what other places charge it's very cheap still," said Jim Tolbert.
Terry Mills has been selling jewelry on the mall for 6 years and she said as long as that price comes with incentives, she's willing to pay it.
"If we get something for the $1,200 a year such as a guaranteed space I wouldn't have a problem with that," said Terry Mills.
Right now Mills sets up shop at 6 a.m. just to reserve her spot at Central Place. She said she'd easily pay $100 a month for an assigned space.
"There are a lot of vendors that operate year round and they establish a clientele and a business and for somebody to show up and move them out it really is frustrating. It helps them in that way," said Tolbert.
Other vendors are upset that the $800 a year increase is such a huge jump. They said that will hurt their business significantly.
"It's incredible. It's from $400 to $1200," said another vendor.
Now customers are afraid their favorite shops won't be able to afford to come back next year.
"It would be a shame if they're driven off because of their pricing. I think they encourage people to come to the mall," said John D'Earth, a vendor shopper.
The proposal also suggests that vendors who set up on side streets rather than on Central Place only pay $400 a year. Spots on the east end of the mall would be $600 a year. The ordinance will be brought before City Council in October.