Park City business group finds restaurants, retailers overwhelmingly support Main Street pedestrian days
Galleries indicate they oppose another year of the car-free program
People on Main Street during the pedestrian days last summer and fall apparently spent money wandering into shops and when they sat down at restaurants, cafes and bars.
But they might not have taken home a piece of art.
As an important round of discussions about the operations of Main Street this summer and fall approaches, the group that represents businesses in the Old Town core has compiled the results of a survey showing whether various business segments support a second year of the pedestrian days. The days this year would be held alongside the Park Silly Sunday Market, which plans to return to Main Street in 2021 after a one-year hiatus in 2020 amid the spread of the novel coronavirus. The Silly Market for years has split Main Street businesses between those that have received a boost from the Silly Market crowds and those that have not.
The Historic Park City Alliance survey results show the retail and restaurant industries, two crucial sectors along Main Street, each overwhelmingly support holding the pedestrian days this year. The results were tabulated by number of responses rather than a percentage. Eighteen retailers supported the concept of holding the pedestrian days again while 12 were in opposition. Seventeen restaurants were in support with seven in opposition.
Other sectors that were in support include real estate, lodging and professional offices.
Galleries, however, were an outlier in their opposition. Ten galleries expressed that they did not support the pedestrian days in 2021 alongside the Silly Market while three were in support.
There are numerous galleries in the Main Street core with locally based artists selling their works alongside pieces from national artists and the masters. The street is widely seen as one of the state’s top art marketplaces.
Susan Meyer, the owner of Meyer Gallery on Main Street, said in an interview she supports the pedestrian days while acknowledging the Silly Market historically has hurt sales. She said the foot traffic and sales at the gallery in 2020 were stronger on the pedestrian days than they were during a typical Sunday of the Silly Market. She remains a supporter of the Silly Market, however.
“If we’re having a Silly Market this year . . . Then, sure, I want to try to repeat the success we had last year,” Meyer said.
In another telling survey question, the Historic Park City Alliance inquired about whether businesses would operate outside on the pedestrian days. A slight majority of the retailers said they would not operate outside. A clear majority of the restaurants said they would. Cafes were evenly split while five bars said they would operate outside and two said they would not. Galleries and jewelers overwhelmingly indicated they would not as well.
The survey was not scientific and 97 out of the 215 businesses holding licenses in the Main Street core responded.
The pedestrian days in 2020 were one of the key measures taken by City Hall in response to the illness. Park City leaders and the Historic Park City Alliance last year agreed to the traffic closure on Sundays and certain other days in an effort to create space for social distancing and reignite sales after the spring coronavirus-caused shutdowns.
The pedestrian days in 2020 drew solid crowds and were widely lauded. There were pockets of concern, though, as some businesses did not enjoy the robust sales tallied by others on the pedestrian days.
The upcoming talks about the summer of 2021 will be complicated by the return of the Silly Market, which is centered on lower Main Street with activities along the upper stretch of the street. Lower Main Street is closed to traffic for the Silly Market while the upper section of the street remains open to traffic. The pedestrian days covered upper and lower Main Street.
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