The Safety Harbor Farmer’s Market has been struggling for a while, with the seasonal weekly event steadily shedding vendors, and customers, over the past few years.
Now, thanks to a new agreement between the city and a local merchants group, the Thursday market will be given a fresh lease on life starting this spring.
The Merchants of Safety Harbor, or MOSH, organization will operate the newly named Market on Main on Sundays beginning on April 3, 2016, thanks to an agreement that was unanimously approved the City Commission Monday night.
“MOSH is proposing to move the market to Sundays at the Gazebo from 9-2 for the remainder of the current season, which would be April and May, and then continue from September to December,” Leisure Services Director Andrea Norwood said.
“MOSH will manage the market in its entirety, securing vendors, advertising, logistics, et cetera, as well as adding its own unique components.”
During the discussion on the issue, city officials explained the reason behind the change.
“The market, in its current form, has really run its course,” City Manager Matt Spoor said.
“And so, in our opinion, the sooner that either MOSH takes over, or the sooner that we can breathe new life in the market in some way, the better.”
MOSH executive director Mercedes Ofalt stepped to the podium to address the commission and answer any questions about the market.
She explained how the new event would differ from not only the previous one, but other markets in the area, as well, in part by taking place on Sunday, as well as by including a unique program that will help young entrepreneurs learn how to operate a business by selling goods at the market.
“We’re working with Brandon of Elite Event & Rentals…and he has a very solid plan,” Ofalt said of Brandon Ahlgren, who will manage the market. “Not only the entrepreneurial table, but some live music, some tastings, much more than just produce and a couple of vendors.”
“It’s going to be much more of an experience, to fit MOSH’s mission of bringing awareness and traffic to the downtown area.”
The commissioners were all for the plan.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Commissioner Janet Hooper said.
“I think the biggest issue is, it won’t be a city type event,” Mayor Andy Steingold said, noting that transferring ownership of the market to MOSH will alleviate some of the heavy workload on the city’s special events department.
As part of the deal, the commission agreed to lower the normal facility rental fee of $585 per month when the market launches in April.
“There are some concerns with them starting up, especially the first two months,” Spoor explained.
“Because they’re going to be open two months and then basically going to be shut down for three months,” Spoor explained.
In light of that, MOSH will pay $125 per market, with a maximum of $500 per month, for the rest of this year before the standard rental fee is applied in 2017.
After the meeting, Ofalt told Safety Harbor Connect she is excited for the Market on Main’s debut during the upcoming Safety Harbor Songfest.
“MOSH is very excited to renew this adventure for downtown Safety Harbor!” she wrote via email.
“Based on the feedback so far, it seems residents and merchants alike are on board. And we are so appreciative of the city’s, Mayor’s and commission’s support,” she added. “I can’t wait to get started!”
For more information on the Market on Main, visit the event’s Facebook page, or contact MOSH via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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(Note: This article has been edited to reflect the correct monthly rental fee of $125 per market for 2016.)