Lobster roll, anyone? Silly Market cancellation impacts Park City small businesses
Lorin Smaha owns Freshies Lobster Co. with her husband, serving lobster rolls and other New England fare at a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Prospector.
But Freshies Lobster Co. more than a decade ago had not yet established itself, operating out of a food truck at the time. The truck has been a staple at the Park Silly Sunday Market since 2009, long before the Prospector location opened.
Freshies Lobster Co. stands as one of the successes of the Silly Market in its role as an incubator of small businesses. Freshies Lobster Co. and numerous other food purveyors, artists and craftspeople will be among those impacted by the Silly Market’s decision to cancel this year based on concern about the spread of the novel coronavirus. The Silly Market, centered on lower Main Street, runs on Sundays in the summer and early fall, drawing large crowds and offering an eclectic mix of businesses like Freshies Lobster Co. an opportunity for sales as well as a chance to build a customer base.
Freshies Lobster Co. had anticipated to return to the Silly Market in 2020. The Sundays on Main Street are lucrative for Freshies Lobster Co. and the restaurant now must prepare for the summer and fall without the Silly Market.
“We do really well there. It’s been a staple for us,” Smaha said, adding that the top sales days of the year are typically at the Silly Market.
She said she understands the decision made by the Silly Market organizers to cancel. The loss of the Silly Market, though, is a “little bit unnerving.”
“Things are getting serious,” she said.
The cancellation will impact numerous other small businesses as well. The lineup changes each Sunday as vendors, musicians and others cycle through the Silly Market, some having a regular presence and others making occasional appearances. The Silly Market drew upward of 13,000 people each Sunday and, in 2019, organizers said more than 187,000 people attended.
The Silly Market organizers on Wednesday announced the cancellation. The statement from the Silly Market said the health and welfare of the community, Silly Market-goers and others was the priority in making the decision. Two Park Silly Holiday Bazaars in December — one in Kamas and the other in Park City — remain scheduled. The holiday events offer similar lineups to the weekly events on Main Street as the organizers attempt to re-create some of the character of summer and fall on the shopping, dining and entertainment strip.
The cancellation is another signal that the summer-tourism season will likely suffer broad impacts from the spread of the illness and the economic turmoil that has ensued. The Tour of Utah bicycling race, another large summertime event along Main Street, was also canceled. The Silly Market, with the schedule running through much of the summer and into the early fall, involved many more event days than other special events like the Tour of Utah or the Park City Kimball Arts Festival.
Another veteran Silly Market vendor, Kamas Valley photographer Patrick Brandenburg, had planned to return in 2020 after seven years selling his works. Sales at the Silly Market of his animal portraits and landscape scenes are strong. Brandenburg credited the Silly Market for early successes.
“It pretty much spawned my business into what it is,” Brandenburg said about the Silly Market.
The cancellation, meanwhile, will also leave musicians without an important Park City venue. A roster of acts performs during each Silly Market, providing a backdrop for the day. Mountain Town Music, a not-for-profit organization, booked four acts for each Sunday. The executive director, Brian Richards, said the Silly Market is one of Mountain Town Music’s largest bookings each year. Richards said the musicians will be disappointed without the venue and the cancellation is a “huge loss for the community.” The musicians who are booked look forward to performing at the Silly Market, he said, describing it as “always a great atmosphere.” He said, though, the Silly Market organizers were correct in their decision.
“It’s the Main Street setting. It’s the crowd. It’s the vibe,” Richards said.
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