Essex Street Market Attendance Woes in the Rearview?

Posted on: June 17th, 2016 at 5:00 am by
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In March 2015, vendors operating within the Essex Street Market went DEFCON-2 over foot traffic woes and apparent lack of overall management acumen by the city, whose Economic Development Corporation is in charge. Now, however, it seems like everything is peachy inside the 76-year-old facility; a full 180 from last year’s dire assessment.

What changed, you may be asking?

The biggest problem that faced the Essex Market was overall visibility. Confusion abounded thanks to news of its eventual relocation to Essex Crossing Site 2 in 2018 (i.e. Market Line). Public messaging, or lack thereof, lead many to believe that the institution had already shuttered.

However, Anne Saxelby of the Essex Street Market Vendor Association told Community Board 3 this week that, since said meeting a year ago, things have been looking up. The EDC, for its part, did respond to most of the concerns outlined, and committed funds to hiring a new marketing coordinator for better communication and events planning.

As a result, Saxelby noted that the Market accomplished more marketing milestones in the last ninety days than in the prior ten years combined. Their social media accounts are more active and responsive, not to mention events such as the anniversary block parties, mural, street seat, Lowline shindig, among others. There is also a new “branding campaign” underway that will likely have an upscaling effect. (The Lower East Side Partnership is assisting in the marketing effort, as well.)

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It all equates to vendor reports of increased foot traffic, especially on weekends.

The biggest sticking point, however, is still the “alternative management” program that the Vendor Association proposes. Namely, to take over these responsibilities from the city, which oversees all the markets (i.e. treated the same). The Essex crew argues that this approach doesn’t factor in the nuances of each establishment, and hopes to become a model example where the vendors run the show.

As for the new location at Site 2, the consortium of developers comprising Delancey Street Associates is paying for moving costs. Architects are reportedly meeting with vendors to discuss the forthcoming stalls.

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