We are hoping that leaders of the Park Silly Sunday Market, which drew record-breaking crowds this summer, and the year-round business owners who have been instrumental in turning the town's historic business district into an international tourist destination will come to a similar accord.
Throughout the summer, many of the shop owners on Main Street said they were pleased by the size of the crowds drawn to the Silly Market, which ran from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each Sunday. But as attendance grew we noticed that it was increasingly difficult to find parking and traffic was, at times, daunting. As a result, some merchants claim, their customers may have stayed away.
While that claim would be hard to prove, there is no doubt that on Silly Market days almost all of the parking in Swede Alley and the China Bridge parking structure was consumed by foot traffic headed straight downhill to the outdoor booths. It is easy to understand why shop owners on the upper end of the street may have been discouraged.
However, it was disappointing to hear some Main Street representatives recently calling for drastic reductions in the market's frequency to address those concerns. We think there are better solutions.
First of all, the parking/traffic situation could be addressed by establishing an off-site shuttle similar to, but not as elaborate as, the system put in place during the Arts Festival. That could entail running open-air vehicles, like the ones used to transport skiers, from the lower parking lots at Deer Valley to the Silly Market.
Second, the city could experiment with loosening outdoor-display restrictions on established businesses so they could compete more effectively with the atmosphere within the Silly Market boundaries.
Third, the Silly Market should re-commit itself to its mission of encouraging sustainability and local flavor. A significant number of the booths offer mass-produced items that do not reflect the market's spirit and have no local ties. While many of the booths support area nonprofits and offer locally produced goods, those that do not should be eliminated.
The Silly Market has already made several successful changes to incorporate more activity all along the street. We are eagerly looking forward to the next stage in its evolution. The Silly Market organizers have presented a challenge that other cities across the country would be delighted to have an enormously popular event in the heart of town.