Thursday, August 4, 2016

Open Letter to Borough Council

(Columbia Spy received the following letter. The author's name is withheld by request.)

I have had the pleasure of getting to know some of the stand holders at the Columbia Market House over the past several months. They are great people who are doing their best to keep things going. I'm new to Columbia, so I don't have the history of the Market House and what has been tried (or not tried) to promote its well-being. I do know it's a beautiful old building right smack in the center of town and I fell in love with it at first sight. I also understand that it has been under the watchful eye of a Trust over the past several years (now dissolved). It sounds as if the Trust did not achieve what it had hoped for concerning the Market House.

There are probably a lot of reasons why. For one, Lancaster County is stock full of Farmers Markets on different days of the week. Not to mention a person can go straight to the farm itself and purchase the items they want. There would need to be a reason to drive in to downtown Columbia to purchase produce, I would think. Especially if that produce is limited in selection. There are some awesome food vendors at the Market and they seem to do the best. There are other types of vendors that have quality items for sale, but the foot traffic is not there to support them. When a person walks in to the building there is a sense of emptiness from all the vacant stands; and it leaves one with the impression that the Market is not doing so well. People most often like to visit and hang out at places where there is excitement in the air, and the hustle and bustle of commerce.

I don't think the answer to the Market's success is necessarily money, although money is needed for certain aspects for sure. I think the Market needs someone who has a vision for the space and who can think outside the box. It needs someone who is creative and is allowed to implement ideas that might be outside the norm. There are so many ways in which the Market could be used. My question is, why haven't major changes been implemented already in the face of the obvious need to do something to bring people in?

Here are some of the ideas I've had, and I'm sure there are many others who have had ideas, too…

Consolidate the stands as much as possible to avoid all the empty space. Create a little café where everyone can sit and enjoy their food. Plaster the town with posters (can actually be done very inexpensively). Make the building look festive from the outside. Flowers planted, balloons, banners. Special events that are well planned and advertised. Split the Market in half, with a restaurant (or group of food vendors) on one side, and other vendors on the other side (kind of like Cracker Barrel). Begin a campaign to overcome any negativity associated with the Market. Have indoor concerts with local musicians. Have dances. Have Square dances. Have sponsored contests, such as a BBQ Cook Off (there's a great BBQ stand in the Market now that could compete) or a Fall Chocolate Festival (there's a great chocolatier there, too). Contests and competitions will always bring people in.

So many things that could be done.

So, I'm hoping that whoever is hired for the new Market Manager has a love for the Market, an excitement for getting things done, and is given the green light to be as creative as possible.   Because to me it seems like that is what is needed the most; as Nike would say, just do it!

From a Columbia Borough Resident

14 comments:

  1. The ideas sound good and would be inexpensive. It is true you must change the mind set of people. There are some that want the market.or any other venture fail, bot the majority.of residents want the market and downtown to be vibrant again. So council, pick a person with vision.

    ReplyDelete
  2. first of all, the market is NOT dissolved. yes there are many issues. once being this is a very poor-poverty town, most people that attend market don't drive or have a car. for years the market was used for a HUGE craft show 2 days every october the day of the halloween parade and the day after. it was a huge success. the vision has got to include moving away from what's NOT working

    ReplyDelete
  3. I like the idea of a Chocolate fest. I a huge Chocolate fan think it would be great and a lot of fun. I like a few of the other idea's. I am a Proud Columbian I grew up here and still live here. I remember as a little girl going into market every week and getting Whoopie Pies from one stand and she would always have some saved for me since she knew me and knew how much I loved them. It was a great place back them and miss that. This town as so much to offer if the right people would be able to do things with it and the ones in charge now would just open there eyes and let other help in doing so. I also think that is more people would take the time and fix up there homes with a coat or two of paint and more flowers boxes and things around the town etc would look so beautiful. I miss the crafty show at Halloween too that was always run to go to before the parade. There is so much more the board can do if they would start to focus on more than just the rail trail and other things. Start by taking action against the people who do not taking care of there property or properties. I love this town and Proud of where I am from.

    ReplyDelete
  4. yes good start. codes dept. WHY is this nonsense still going on??? why weren't some of the problem properties condemned years ago???? why now are there still properties that should be condemned. if they are NOT up to code, condemn them. period. no lee way. no special club.

    ReplyDelete
  5. It would be nice to get the record collectors back.When they were in the market house one Sunday a month, they drew a crowd that some merchants complained about taking up their parking. If they can get shows like that back, and advertised right, I am sure other businesses would get a boost.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Pick the right person to.run the market we need a new fAce in there not a old face let's not let it be a done deal every one needs a fair chance to.be able to get the job everyone!!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. The craft shows and the record club were great attractions!!!
    Full Steam ahead, just like the TROLLEY

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Can we please stop mixing metaphors? And stop calling the diesel-powered bus a trolley?

      Delete
    2. Simmer down! It is to resemble a trolley and that's what it is being called. Get a real issue to worry about. Geez!

      Delete
    3. Even if the trolley turns out to be a money losing venture, it has been fun and quaint for the town.

      Delete
    4. Doesn't resemble any trolley I know of. if anything, it resembles a San Fransisco cable car - which aren't trolleys by definition. But want a real issue? Fine. The real issue is wasting at least $30,000 (probably a LOT more) of taxpayer money on a no-bid contract. More than the hubs getting greased on this one, perhaps?

      Geez!
      Oh yeah, losing money is always fun and quaint.

      Delete
  8. With regard to the Bags and Flags project, has anyone seen the hand-stamped bags yet?

    ReplyDelete
  9. FULL STEAM AHEAD TROLLEY AND THE REVAMPING OF THE TAXPAYERS PROPERTY,, hint, COLUMBIA MARKET HOUSE

    ReplyDelete
  10. Loving the TROLLEY!
    SEEMS the riders also, as they smile. Negative turn your frown upside DOWN

    ReplyDelete