Sunday, May 4, 2014

Defying the odds at Kansas City's City Market

It really didn't take long for the whole "random" spaces thing to fall apart.  At least for some performers.  Not all, some are still forced to draw spots and get what they get.  However, a few are gifted with the same choice spots week after week.  The odds of someone drawing the same spot 3 weeks in a row is less than 1 in 1000.  Somehow a couple of very lucky musicians have managed it.  One said, "Luck had nothing to do with it!" but then realized that he was saying too much and shut up.  Another performer, non music, confirmed for me that he was allowed to set up in a spot that isn't even one of the designated places.  Three vendors and two other people associated with the market confirmed for me that some performers get the space they want week after week and they had noticed that it didn't seem random.

Even more troubling is that one of Deb Connor's stated reasons for charging balloon artists, but not other performers is that "the kids get to take something away like they do with a vendor".  I don't actually buy that, but for a moment, let's give that argument a chance.  If that's the case, then why is she letting a portrait artist set up, WITHOUT PAYING and not in a designated spot when people get to take things away from his activity as well.

Deb, if you want to charge, how about charging all the performers a flat $10.  Don't force some into $54 plus fees for taxes and licences.

My family & I make enough to cover it, but have no desire to work under her conditions.  We can also make just as much money without working the market.  I have spoken with another balloon artist who said that the $54 was over half of what he made on an average Saturday.  50 - 60 % of earnings is simply too high a fee.  Then because he is now vending instead of working for tips he would be required to pay sales tax on all of that, not just income tax.  by the time you add in income tax, sales tax and material costs he would end up with less than 20% of what he grossed.  That is seriously out of control.

I do still shop at the market occasionally and am friends with many of the vendors, though I do find myself venturing out more and more to other area markets.  This is just another in a string of ways the market has become more corporate and less farmer's market over the past decade.  It makes me sad.  Luckily, Waldo, Brookside and Lawrence retain the earthy, cooperative air that I think a farmer's market shoudl have.

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