After a season of contentious changes to the annual Thursday Night Market, it appears the Grass Valley Downtown Association is headed back to the drawing board.
Changes to the 2013 Thursday Night Market excluded nonprofit organizations, as well as out-of-area businesses and vendors, much to the frustration of many who voiced concerns during a meeting last week about the image the market gives to the downtown area.
“This year was a disaster,” said Lori Rollins, owner of Antique Emporium in Grass Valley, who has been in business for 30 years. “There was no good feedback from customers. There were logistically big problems. I’ve never had these kinds of issues in the past.”
The changes made in 2013 included a decision as to who would organize the event. Ray Diggins had produced and managed the market for the better part of the last two decades, but for 2013, the GVDA created a committee of its own to oversee the event.
Tia Hollingsworth, owner of the Bamboo Home Store in downtown Grass Valley, said she began by selling as a vendor at the Thursday Night Market, and that without that, she would never have been in business.
“If I would not have been allowed into the market, I would have never opened my store,” she said Wednesday night during a GVDA meeting, referring to the fact that home goods were excluded from this year’s event, which focused on being a local farmer’s market.
Another point of contention was that nonprofits were not allowed in the market this year, and some commented on the image that this provides — that the downtown does not support nonprofit organizations.
“How many of you have contributed to nonprofits?” asked Jerri Glover, founder of the online organization Nevada County Makes. In response, nearly everyone in the room raised their hands.
Meeting facilitator Lani Lott said the board is looking seriously at improving the image of the Thursday Night Market, that hindsight is 20/20, and the staff is looking to re-establish something everyone will embrace.
Results from post-event survey results indicated that out of the 20 people who completed the question, “Did you enjoy the market more this year than in past years?” four said “yes” and 16 said “no.” Fifteen of 20 respondents thought nonprofits should be included in the 2014 market, and 15 out of 22 believed the market needed more variety of products, something Ian Garfinkel, owner of the Holbrooke Hotel, mentioned.
“It was too restrictive,” Garfinkel said. “You need to open it up to other locals from Nevada City and bring back the nonprofits.”
Dennis Roberts, who served on the board last year, reminded those in attendance that the changes to the market were based on input from committees and members who wanted to focus on the restaurants in downtown Grass Valley, as well as on local produce.
“A group of people told us what they wanted, and now they are saying something different,” Roberts said. “The board did what the community asked us to do.”
GVDA board member Rich Fuxjager said the association tried something new but it failed, and he urged people to get involved to make it better.
“If you all want a better market, stay involved,” he said.
The topic of the Downtown Association’s inaugural Gold Rush Days was also discussed, with the resounding message being that there was not enough publicity for the event.
Survey results supported that, including comments such as: “I think a lot of people didn’t know about it.” “Both customers and we agree there needs to be more advertising.” “Needs more advertising … we told a lot of people but no one had heard it was coming that weekend.”
Twenty-one survey participants out of 25 felt the Gold Rush theme is a good fit for downtown, which GVDA board President Steve Rosenthal supported.
“A lot of events could be done anywhere. This is something unique to us,” Rosenthal said. “We are a Gold Rush town.”
To become involved with the Grass Valley Downtown Association, visit historicgrassvalley.com or contact 530-272-8315 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4230.