October 21, 2013
Amanda Welch is a vendor at Charlottesville's City Market. She sells honey and a line of soap called Grubby Girl soap. She also sells her soap at Whole Foods. She credits her increasing clean cash to the City Market.
"I do different things and I see what works," said Welch. "And now I have my soaps, Scrubby Girl Soaps, are into Whole Foods, and it's because I was able to try it out at the market without a big expense."
The local coffee business Shenandoah Joe started at the market, as well, before building brick-and-mortar stores.
"It's not just that the city makes six percent off of everybody that sells there. That's not the real benefit from the City Market," said Welch. "It is a business incubator."
Now, City Council is considering how to keep City Market's needs met as it grows and how to develop the increasingly valuable parking lot it calls home.
Welch and others who wanted City Market to maintain its success spoke at council's meeting on Monday night. Council considered if the market should move or stay where it is -- under new ownership.
City Council discussed selling the Water Street site where City Market is now to a private investor. Council would like the investor who buys the property to include City Market, parking, and mixed-use development into plans.
"They were trying to come up with a way to get some private investment to help develop the existing site with the requirement of having the City Market be a part of that, which would be great if they can do that," said Welch.
Council also discussed leasing the ground at Garrett Street for the market's home.
Several people spoke in favor of keeping the market where it is, citing Garrett Street's location alongside the railroad tracks. They said the location along the tracks makes it unsafe for kids and cuts the market off from the Downtown Mall.
"I think they really need to buckle down and say 'okay, we've made all these studies, this is where everybody wants the market to be, and we have to make it work,'" said Welch.
One suggested way to make it work is expanding City Market to last more than one day to increase profit.
"If they make it a more permanent market...and it happen more than just on Saturday morning, they would be expanding the number of people that could vend there and the people that could come," said Welch.
Council did not vote on the issue. They will revisit the issue at a later meeting to make a decision.