INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Merchants at the City Market say both the pandemic and ongoing downtown construction are hurting business.
The market’s board members said they plan to ask the city for financial help at a meeting on Thursday.
All of the market merchants were offered rent relief with the expectation that when business picked back up, it would be paid back. Some vendors told News 8 they opted out because they feel it would only put the market more at risk.
Merchants are still struggling to get more foot traffic without the city’s workforce fully back downtown and customers having to navigate a major construction project. The multi-million dollar investment will widen sidewalks, add parking and a raised crosswalk between the City Market.
When it’s done later this year, both Delaware and Market Streets will be rebuilt.
The pressure has forced some merchants to shut down permanently. The owner of Twenty-Two Juice Bar, Ross Hanna, has had a spot at City Market since 2013. He said he’s never seen it this bad before.
“With all of the construction and the fact a lot of vendors chose not to stay open late and chose not to stay open often, this place is about as opposite of convenience as it gets,” Hanna said.
Ryan Evans, owner of His & Hers Boutique agreed, adding only about half of the vendors are still in business.
“It’s just another thing that we’re gonna hopefully ultimately get past, but it will take time,” Evans said.
But they said a turnaround is possible; it’s just going to take the whole team.
“We all need to act in unison, be open all at the same time, all on the same days, act as if we’re on a team,” Hanna said.
“Put on a smile every day, try to get in here every day possible, and be there for your customers,” Evans added.
City Market Executive Director Keisha Gray knows no time can be wasted when it comes to convincing customers to come back. She says several new efforts are in the works, including extended hours starting next month.
“I think it’s just the perception that it’s not easy to get here, but our streets around here are still navigable for people to find us easily by foot or by car,” Gray said.
The full financial report of the market will be presented at Thursday’s meeting, as well as the request for help from the city.
Gray shared the city’s payments to the market for the last three years:
She says the funds were used for utilities and insurance.