Q&A: Market House Trust - Part 2

The following Trust members were present at this meeting:
Chair - Cleon Berntheizel
Vice Chair - Don Haines
Treasurer - Elaine Beckley
Director - Jeanne Cooper
Director - Kellan Kernisky
Member at large - Bill Collister

SPY: How do you respond to criticism that trust members have been absent in the market and unavailable to vendors and the general public?
COOPER: It's not a true or accurate statement.  It's simply not. We're not commissioned to be in the market house.  Our agreement - with things that we're supposed to be doing - does not require us to be in the market house. We go in the market house because we want to go in the market house. It's not part of our job to be in the market house, although we do try to go in whenever we can. As part of the vendor committee, Don, Kellan, and myself are in there fairly frequently, so we're in there almost every weekend. Sometimes we have vendor meetings there. Sometimes we'll have a meeting with a new prospective vendor and we'll go down and meet them there. We do all those things in the market house because it shows them that we're there. But it also is a convenient place to meet future prospective vendors. We are commissioned to manage the market either with a manager or us directly when a manager is not contracted.  We also have a vendor committee. We have a Facebook page. We have a website and a mailing address for the general public. We are not in hiding. We are not trying to not be available, but it isn't our mandate to be there all the time. We are in there as much as we can be.
KERNISKY: To the vendors, we are the face of the Trust. We communicate a lot of things back and forth. In addition to the vendor rep, who is a vendor and comes to our meetings, and talks about issues, we are actual face-to-face contacts for a lot of vendors.
COOPER: And they all have all our information.  They know know how to reach us. They can call us, They can email us. They can text us. They know this and they have that info.
BECKLEY: We work closely with Lancaster Central Market. We go to them when we have questions on things, and they've also been kind enough in the past to share things with us, too. One of the things they shared with us is their handbook, and we actually modified that to fit for our market house. We have a handbook, too, for the vendors. The vendors have a handbook that they really need to be following and we got that from Lancaster Central Market. We also have rules that vendors have to follow, and that's actually something we're obligated to council to do. That's in our contract that we would have rules for the vendors to follow. We've been asked to create some of these documents that we have out there. We try to talk to vendors about business while the market is open. We decided to create a document for the vendors when they have a concern or question they should be filling out and getting that to us either by the market manager or the vendor rep or any trust member that they see. They can give it to them and it can be discussed at our next meeting. We resolve vendor issues when they come up. They have to come up the right way.

SPY: Do you plan on being more visible in the market house in the future?
COOPER: Basically, it's no more than we are now. Probably less, if it's a Trust member. Ideally, if the market house is full, we should have a full-time market manager and have to devote less time in the market as trust members.  However, if it's full, I'm going to be in there more as a customer.

SPY: Do you think limiting the market to one day as in the past would be beneficial to the market?
BECKLEY: I would say not at this time. It's not a good time right now for change, number one.  Number two, we have some vendors who are only there certain days. Eliminating certain days - we would have even less vendors. It actually is more of an expense for us to be open three days, but at this point it certainly would hurt the vendors.
COOPER: If we wanted to just  fill the market, we could fill the market. We could take a whole bunch of white elephant stuff. We could become a flea market, and we might do well. We'd get our rent. We could fill it. We could hire a market manager full time, but we would never get our grant, because if we aren't a certain percentage green, the grant is not for us.
BECKLEY: It's really all about business and money. If we don't have enough vendors to pay the rent that cover our expenses, we certainly can't afford to pay a market manager on top of that, and in order to pay a market manager, we'd have to up people's rent. So, if we up people's rent, they would leave.
COOPER: There's not enough foot traffic to sustain them now, never mind if we raise their rents.

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