INDIANAPOLIS — The City Market Board of Directors meets Monday to consider a plan to offer rent relief to struggling vendors.
Some merchants have seen their business drop off 50 percent or more over the past year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, fewer downtown workers and construction that has closed Market Street. At least ten food stalls are empty in the market.
The market’s board of directors may decide to delay some rent payments for the rest of the year. Full back payments wouldn’t be due until 2022.
At the same time, the market’s management is telling vendors whose business relied on the lunch crowd to diversify their hours and service.
“It is natural when you are in a space like this that businesses will come and go and factors that will determine that are up to each particular business,” said City Market Executive Director Keisha Gray.
“I would like to think we can celebrate the merchants and businesses that are still here and are trying to make a go of it.”
Gray also says that despite construction, some may think they have closed, but the market has and will remain open through the entire process.
“We have merchants who are here and this is their life’s work and their dreams we’re trying to support them in the best way that we can,” Gray said.
“There is a rich history about this particular building and there are people who love that about us. We’re not trying to be the newest and shiniest thing. We are here and we’ve been here for a very long time and it is ingrained in people’s lives.”
The board of directors has also discussed the possibility of allowing struggling vendors to exit their leases early without penalty.
Market officials also say they may go to the City-County Council to ask for up to $250,000 in additional funding this year to balance their budget.
Despite the hard year, a couple new vendors have come on board to the City Market building, including Maxine’s Chicken and Waffles.
The Original Farmers’ Market is usually in front of the City Market building but has had to move due to construction. This year it will be on Market Street in front of the Whole Foods.
The goal is for people to still be able to visit the City Market building if they go to the Farmers’ Market because they are so close.