Former Montrose market manager starts his own event

The ousted manager of the Montrose Harvest Market has started his own weekend event with the help of former City Councilman John Drayman.

Despite an ongoing investigation into allegations that Drayman embezzled money from the Montrose Shopping Park Assn., which manages the Harvest Market on Honolulu Avenue, several vendors who plan to join a new craft market Saturday say they aren't worried about the investigation.

“I have no idea what he did wrong. I have no say in that, but all I know is the way he treated me,” said collectibles vendor Bob Waldron. “Every one of the vendors that was there at the time that he was running the market, we'd follow him if we can.”

Waldron plans to drive two hours from Ventura to have a booth at the first Foothill Crafts & Collectibles Outdoor Market.

Drayman once helped organize the Harvest farmers market each Sunday and was part of a group that founded it nearly 10 years ago, likening it to a “neighborhood reunion.”

While vendors point to Drayman as the impetus for their involvement in the new craft and collectibles market on a vacant lot at Foothill Boulevard and Briggs Avenue, Drayman said his role is limited. He made introductions, plans to participate in the event as a vendor and is helping out, but he's not running the show, he said.

“I was asked to be involved in the organization of it, but I didn't think that was such a good idea,” Drayman said.

Jeff Decker, who was dropped by the Montrose Shopping Park Assn. several months ago, is the event organizer. Decker said he knows many of the vendors from his work managing the craft section of the now defunct Thieves Market portion of the Harvest event in Montrose.

In February, the shopping park board nixed the name because of its negative connotations and increased vendor fees after letting Decker go. That irked several vendors who plan to join Decker at the Foothill market in La Crescenta, about a mile away from the Montrose Shopping Park.

“John gave me a little bit of guidance, and off I went,” Decker said, adding that former Thieves Market vendors, too, were encouraging.

Decker chose to hold the event on alternating Saturdays to avoid competing with the Montrose market, he said, and plans to keep it on the calendar through the summer and beyond it if it's popular.

He has lined up 30 vendors for the first market at $40 per booth. The Montrose Shopping Park Assn. charges $45 for a small craft booth and $75 for a large one.

“I'm planning for success,” Decker said.

Some vendors see the Foothill market as a symbol of Drayman's resurgence after a tough year. In addition to a police investigation into the embezzlement allegations, he also had to pay fines for not securing proper permits for his condominium renovation. The work was done by subcontractors of Advanced Development Investment Inc., an affordable housing developer that allegedly bilked millions from Glendale.

“He's like a phoenix rising,” said antique vendor Terre Ashmore.

Dale Dawson, executive director of the Montrose Shopping Park Assn., said he didn't expect the new crafts event to affect the Harvest Market, which this year has seen significant revenue growth.

“Whatever is happening up on Foothill is not going to affect Montrose,” he said.

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