I contacted three of the businesses located on the western section of Main Street that has been closed for four hours each Saturday since June in order for vendors participating in the Amsterdam Farmers’ Market to set up in the street. These three businesses also have hours of operation that significantly overlap with the market’s hours of 10am to 2pm.
On Tuesday, the Amsterdam Common Council unanimously passed a resolution, sponsored by Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler, which requests that Police Chief Greg Culick stop allowing the weekly closing of the street. The resolution claims that “businesses are being negatively impacted by the partial closure of Main Street on Saturday mornings by the Farmer’s Market.” The resolution was amended to include a cutoff date of September 26, the last Saturday of the month.
Dan Weaver, who owns The Book Hound, said via email yesterday that he has “mixed feelings” about the farmer’s market.
“I have lost some business from the street being closed. For example I have a regular customer from Albany who drove here to visit my store. When he saw the street closed sign, he turned around and went back to Albany. He, like several of my customers, is older and not up to carrying a bag of books down to the next block or to the library parking lot,” said Weaver.
Weaver also said, “I have received a small amount of new business from people coming downtown. Probably if I were able to open earlier on Saturday I would get more.”
According to Weaver, downtown businesses didn’t get a chance to weigh in on the idea of closing the street and were not contacted ahead of time about it.
“There is plenty of room downtown to have the market without blocking the street,” said Weaver.
He also added, “I appreciate all that [Comunity and Economic Development Director] Rob von Hasseln and [Market Manager] Sherri Bardascini Crouse have been doing to make the farmers’ market work and to bring traffic to downtown.”
Tony Vellano, President of the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, said via email yesterday, “I have not experienced a negative impact from the farmer’s market…just the opposite.”
He also provided a written statement about the subject.
“There are only a few businesses on Main Street and the market does bring new faces downtown to an otherwise barren vicinity – new faces that have visited our Hall of Fame,” wrote Vellano. “Some have purchased items that we may not have sold that day if the market wasn’t there.”
“I’m not sure who the complaint came from, but it wasn’t from the PWHF,” added Vellano.
“It is very hard to run a business, especially when there is not much foot traffic. And when someone tries to bring foot traffic into our little area, they are met with mindless resistance – what a shame.”
Vellano also praised the organizers of the annual Spring Fling and said he hopes to see a fall festival this year.
“Unless the powers [that] be find that unacceptable – that no one downtown is a better solution,” wrote Vellano. “And if that is the case, then the PWHF will pay for a course at FMCC for a ‘Business 101’ course.”
Tammy Bedell, owner of Main Attraction Salon and Spa, said yesterday in regards to the market, “I don’t think it affected me at all.”
Bedell said that she and other staff at the salon have not seen either a gain or loss from the market and that her customers have no problem parking on the east end of Main Street and walking to the shop.
“I don’t see any problem with it,” said Bedell.
Bedell said most of her customers make appointments, and she has not seen an increase in foot traffic into her shop on Saturdays except for a few people asking to use the bathroom, all of whom get a business card before leaving.