Saturday, October 9, 2004

Findlay Market to be open Sundays in '05

By Kevin Aldridge
Enquirer staff writer

Findlay Market is business as usual on Friday. Merchants say the number of shoppers coming to the Over-the-Rhine market is not as large as it used to be.
OVER-THE-RHINE - The agency managing Findlay Market wants to keep the marketplace open on Sundays for the first time in its 152-year history to increase business, but some merchants are balking at the idea.

Bob Pickford, chairman of the Corporation for Findlay Market, said Friday that Sunday hours (11 a.m.-5 p.m.) would begin in the spring. Pickford wanted to begin Sunday hours on Nov. 7, but re-evaluated that plan after meeting Thursday night with some of the merchants. Several vendors said they did not want to undergo the transition during the holiday season.

"We're definitely going to do it," Pickford said. "It's a big change for a lot of the vendors. The market is 152 years old and shopping patterns have been changing through those years.

"As a destination shopping center, it is pretty clear to us that we need to be available to shoppers on the weekend when they have time to make the trip to the market," he said.

The proposed Sunday hours received a lukewarm reception from several merchants, who said they may not renew their leases. Some said they are hoping to negotiate a compromise with management.

"I don't like it," said Deborah Gates, who sells fruit and vegetables out of the open-air Farmer's Market Shed. "That's my church day and my family day."

Timothy Waller, who has sold goods at the market for 30 years, said he doesn't think staying open on Sundays would dramatically increase business. He said the market is just not as full of shoppers or merchants these days.

"It's just dead out here," Waller said. "I think you've got to get more vendors before you open on Sundays."

Dean Zaidan, owner of Mediterranean Imports since 1986, said he worries about how a change in schedule might affect his regular customers. Under the new schedule, Findlay Market would be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

"I do have clientele that comes in on Tuesdays," Zaidan said. "I'm hoping down the road it will be good for business, but if the business is not there, it is going to be tough to do."

Gene "the Horseradish King" Goldschmidt, who runs an organic foods shop at the market, said for Sunday hours to be a success, managers have to do a better job of advertising. He said many vendors at the market have been losing money for a long time and can't afford any more setbacks.

"I don't have a problem with Sunday hours," Goldschmidt said. "I think it's inevitable. You shouldn't shove it down people's throats, though."

Several shoppers said they thought the new Sunday hours would be an added convenience.

"It's a good idea, especially for people working during the week," said Randy Smith of Westwood. "It's perfect for me because I never know what time I might be able to get out this way."

Bob Southwick, of Hyde Park, added: "For me it's not that appealing because I'm retired. I can come down anytime. But for somebody who has a lot of stuff to do during the week, I imagine Sundays might be very appealing to them."


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