Click photo to enlarge
The organizers of the Park Silly Sunday Market, held in the summer and fall, recently reached an agreement with City Hall to continue holding the event on Main Street. The agreement includes clauses meant to protect the merchants on Main Street from competition. One of the key clauses regulates the mix of vendors that will be allowed at the Silly Market. (Park Record file photo)

The agreement reached in January between City Hall and the organizers of the Park Silly Sunday Market to keep the event on Main Street includes restrictions meant to protect the brick-and-mortar businesses along the street.

There has long been tension between Main Street businesses and the Silly Market even as the market has drawn large crowds to the street on Sundays in the summer and early fall. The critics on Main Street say the Silly Market crowds are there for the event, spending money on the arts, crafts and other merchandise, as well as food, at the Silly Market. The Silly Market-goers aren't as apt to make purchases at the brick-and-mortar businesses, they say.

City Hall and the Silly Market reached a wide-ranging agreement to continue to hold the event on Main Street in 2014, 2015 and 2016 after a lengthy negotiation that touched on numerous issues that have arisen over the years since the Silly Market's debut in 2007.

One of the key points, negotiated by City Hall as a carrot for the brick-and-mortar businesses, regulates the vendor mix that will be allowed at the Silly Market. Main Street leaders were involved in the discussions that resulted in the agreement, using their influence to protect the interests of the businesses.

According to the agreement, certain categories of Silly Market vendors will be restricted in number, and the limit will be reduced slightly through the course of the three years covered in the deal. It is the first agreement between City Hall and the Silly Market to include such detailed restrictions.

The details of the vendor restrictions, as outlined in an exhibit attached to the agreement, are:

  • a maximum of 10 importers per week in 2014. The limit will be reduced to eight in 2015 and then six in 2016.

  • a maximum of 15 jewelers per week in 2014. The number drops to 12 in 2015 and 2016.

  • a maximum of 14 on-site food vendors and people selling snacks in 2014. The figure is reduced to 12 in 2015 and 2016.

    The exhibit also indicates that the Silly Market will draft for City Hall a list of definitions for vendor classification.

    The Silly Market has approximately 200 vendors each week. Many do not fall into one of the categories outlined under the vendor restrictions, according to Kate Boyd, the Silly Market's director of operations.

    "It's really the direction the Park Silly Market wanted to go anyway," Boyd said about the mix of vendors, adding, "To keep the locals coming, it's something they've asked for."

    The Silly Market receives upward of 600 applications each season from vendors wanting a spot for at least one week. The roster changes weekly. Boyd said the Silly Market this year will have the vendors share their stories in short statements that will be posted at the booths.

    The Silly Market, meanwhile, agreed to work with the Historic Park City Alliance, a business group that represents the interests of the Main Street core, as the mix of vendors is selected. The agreement says the Silly Market will have a member of the Historic Park City Alliance on the jury that selects the jewelry vendors. It will also arrange three walk-throughs with the Historic Park City Alliance and City Hall to "identify possible conflicts and/or issues with vendor mix," according to the agreement.

    In another exhibit attached to the agreement, the Silly Market outlines its vendor priorities. The top ones are:

    1. artisans, described as "a vendor that sells unique, art and handmade crafts," not including food or jewelry. "Starting materials must be significantly altered and enhanced by the artist," the priority list says. It indicates "preferential consideration" will be given to Utah artists.

    2. farmers, which are described as vendors selling "fresh produce from his or her farm" or one that sells food made from produce at the person's farm.

    3. jewelers, which are described as someone selling "unique, handmade jewelry of their own making and design." The exhibit notes the limitation on the number of jewelry vendors.

    Other priorities, in descending order, are gourmet food, designers, young vendors, food and services. Importers are the last priority, according to the exhibit. The vendors in the importer category are not allowed to sell jewelry at the Silly Market.

    "Vendors in this category are invited in April, based on remaining space available, in an effort to maximize opportunity to other vendor types," the exhibit says.

    The Historic Park City Alliance is not a party to the agreement between City Hall and the Silly Market but provided input as the deal was under negotiation. Alison Butz, the executive director of the Historic Park City Alliance, said in an interview the restrictions and the vendor priorities are important points in the agreement.

    She said the Silly Market originally was described as a marketplace for handmade items and produce from farmers. Butz, though, said "merchants saw a detour" as the Silly Market included vendors that sold items that were also available at Main Street businesses. She said the competition became "very pronounced." The vendor priorities outlined in the agreement, Butz said, is "a move in the right direction."

    "They're moving more toward the handmade, the artisans, the farmers market," Butz said.