Carol McCracken (Post # 2,607)
Waterfront vendors herded to a different waterfront location during the large cruise ship season were outspoken in their rejection of their new greem site. Even though the City has made best efforts to make this a successful alternative, every vendor said it was a “disaster” – the pedestrian traffic they are used to did not materialize – reducing sales to a level that left most discouraged and reluctant to return to the “Waterfront Marketplace.”
With little notice, the city put out the word through the media that vendors would no longer be allowed to sell their creativity on the waterfront from Commercial Street at Franklin Street – on the water side. The reason given was for “sidewalk safety.” The new policy for cruise ships carrying over 1,000 passengers went into effect on Wednesday, June 1, 2016. Thursday, June 2 was the first day it was tested by vendors who showed up.
However, many vendors discounted the sidewalk safety rationale as bunk. Some reported that it was the nearby “bricks and mortar” restaurants that forced them out of their coveted slots close to the large cruse ships. Pedestrians don’t come down this way explained the vendors around mid-afternoon as they left because of lack of sales. People head up Commercial Street toward the Old Port – not down toward the dead-end of Commercial Street where they are located as of June 1, 2016 vendors said. The cruise ship in port was an average size carrying 2,935 passengers. It was on its way back to New York leaving Portland at 5:30 pm and arriving at its destination on Saturday.
Eugene Elcik, said the day was a “total, total disaster.” The author of five novels published by Raven House Publishing, Westbrook, he and his wife were packing up by 3:00 pm because of lackluster sales. Elick, a former economics professor in southern Maine, said he did not know whether or not he’d return again. The same cruise ship will be returning on June 16th. Kathy, see above right photo, left her Maine home at 3:30 am to arrive in time for an early set up at the new “Waterfront Marketplace.” Shortly after she arrived and set up her table, she was informed that she wasn’t limited to that venue. She could set up her table in front of the “brick and mortar” storefronts between Franklin and Commercial Streets – closer to the Old Port area. That doesn’t make any sense she reasoned. Wouldn’t there be the same “sidewalk safety” issues as on the water side of Commercial Street?
Restaurants in the block west of Franklin Street are said to be the culprits that lobbied city hall for the change in venue according to vendors on site.
Nancy Michalak was more positive than the numerous other vendors mhn.com spoke with. “We should be appreciative of what the city has done to enable us to sell here ” she said. “We shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth., We don’t know how it will work out yet.”
Please see Post # 2,603, dated May 29, 2016, herein for more background information on the subject.