More changes announced at Montrose farmers market venue

After several shake-ups last year at the Montrose Harvest Market, more are coming.

The market’s craft and collectibles section is getting a new name and a new organizer. And all vendors will have to pay higher fees.

The tweaks come after the Sunday farmers market underwent several changes last year to address violations issued by the Los Angeles County Agriculture Commissioner and Department of Public Health, as well as the fallout from an ongoing Glendale police embezzlement investigation involving former Councilman John Drayman.

Starting Feb. 26, the craft section at the Sunday event will no longer be called the Thieves Market, following a unanimous vote by the Montrose Shopping Park Assn. board of directors on Thursday. Instead, it will be known as the Montrose Harvest Marketplace.

“This way we get rid of the connotation of thieves,” said Linda McMenamin, the association’s new promotional coordinator.

She will also take over running the craft section from longtime organizer Jeff Decker.

In November, market leaders discussed cutting the number of craft vendors from 40 to 25 to make room for more health-related booths. That angered those selling antiques and collectibles.

As of now, nothing has changed, said Executive Director Dale Dawson.

Craft vendors and merchants have long butted heads with store owners who complain that part of the market directs customers away from their shops, which may carry similar products.

In addition to the name and leadership change, craft vendors, who typically have larger booths, will also have to pay more per week for a spot at the market. Big booth spaces will cost $75, with smaller spots costing $45. Currently, all spaces cost $35.

“Ten dollars isn’t going to hurt anybody,” said board member Jake Menachian, owner of Critters.

McMenamin said the $75 fee makes sense as larger vendors get more space.

Adding another wrinkle to the booth brouhaha, political groups have asked to set up shop in the market to register voters, but that’s against current market rules.

The board was willing to give political groups space at the market to register voters so long as they didn’t promulgate slogans, but the decision was tabled to investigate whether doing that would jeopardize attempts at securing nonprofit status.

The group, which collects annual fees from member merchants, has been operating as if it were a nonprofit for years, but it has yet to make that official with the Internal Revenue Service.
-- Brittany Levine, Times Community News

Twitter: @brittanylevine

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