A sign outside of the doors of the Hamilton Farmers' Market advertising hours of operation Credit: Joey Coleman / The Public Record

At the end of a marathon meeting on June 5, 2017, the Board of Directors of the Hamilton Farmers’ Market voted 4-3-1 to require Market vendors to obey by their lease terms and remain open until the end of Market hours.

Presently, despite their leases, many Market vendors begin closing their booths as early as 2 pm on weekdays. By 4 pm on weekdays, a large number of vendors are closed despite the 6 pm posted hours.

Market research conducted on behalf of the Farmers’ Market this spring showed closed stalls were a leading cause of customer dissatisfaction, and a often-cited reason that potential market customers shop elsewhere.

Nonetheless, some vendors on the Board argued they have the right to operate the hours they see fit, and that the Board should not authorize the Market Manager to enforce hours as per their lease agreements.

Past President of the Farmers’ Market Stallholders Association, Shane Coleman, was one of the strongest advocates for enforcing the hours, stating that market research has shown the importance of all vendors being open to the market, capturing after-work shoppers and younger demographics.

There was great debate about the decision of one vendor to abstain from the vote. This vendor did not want to vote to enforce hours, but wanted to see them enforced. Eventually, after the debate, he was allowed to abstain.

The Market Manager is now authorized to issue warnings to vendors who close early, and after three warnings, suspend them from the Market for one Saturday.

You can watch video of the meeting on The Public Record’s YouTube page. Note a prior Council meeting overlapped with the beginning of this meeting, and the first hour was not recorded.