By Victoria Metcalf
It’s a bit of give and take as members of the Plumas County Board of Supervisors and the lead organizer of a Saturday Morning Market at the Dame Shirley Plaza in Quincy agreed to re-agendize the proposal for Tuesday, March 16.
Originally coming out against the proposal to waive fees for the Dame Shirley Plaza, Department of Facilities Services Director Kevin Correira upon further discussion of the plan, agreed to work with supervisors and organizers in finding common ground to hold markets.
Under the original plan, organizer Lori Ellermeyer was hoping for a minimum of five booths and working the event up to nine, and committing the plaza to 18 Saturdays for the summer marketplace. When asked if she would consider fewer Saturdays she said she would have to discuss it with potential vendors.
“Facilities Services normally recommends park fee waivers for youth activities or education or nonprofit organizations on the simple basis of money — in other words — none of these groups are doing this for a profit,” Correira said in his recommendation to supervisors.
“This new function, if allowed, is for profit,” Correira explained. “Everyone there participating will be paying for their spot in order to display and sell their products.”
Ellermeyer explained that her group is not nonprofit at this time. She is currently paying for all requirements leading up to holding the markets out of her own pocket that totals $3,700 to date. She would like to charge vendors to re-coup some of her costs. And at some point she would like to go nonprofit, but that isn’t in the works at this time.
Originally, Ellermeyer said she wanted to start the market with five vendors and work up to nine. But in order to get a better idea of the interest, she put the word out on social media and within 48 hours had 40 vendors interested in participating in at least some of the Saturdays.
She said that she also talked to business owners, who all support the event, and some are willing to be open on a Saturday if the events went forward.
Although the market would be located in Quincy, she sees it as an opportunity that could benefit all of Plumas County. People could go from town to town enjoying the area.
“It would be wonderful to have an event like this,” said Supervisor Greg Hagwood, who is in favor of the marketplace if it can be squared away with county policies.
Those policies were originally put in place in 1980, according to County Counsel Gretchen Stuhr. They were updated in some ways in 2010.
Supervisor Sherrie Thrall began with saying “I think this is a wonderful idea.” But she doesn’t want to establish a precedence for the rest of the county.
Thrall added that at one time one of the church groups wanted to rent the memorial hall in Chester for every Sunday, “and the public wouldn’t go for it.”
Thrall also said they needed to do the research on what county policies for using public facilities and they have, and have it cover not just one event but set up for vendors down the road.
Stuhr said that the last ordinance change implemented a $200 fee, and a background check for mobile vendors who come into the county. When this happens the vendor is generally there and then gone and the county doesn’t see sales tax or anything, Thrall indicated. Thrall added that she doesn’t think the vendor fee and background check should apply to craft fairs and it wouldn’t apply to the marketplace.
Hagwood said this is a very different set of circumstances.
Hagwood, backed by Supervisor Kevin Goss, said that after the year businesses have had with COVID-19 regulations, an event like the market is a good idea.
Correira said that if Ellermeyer is willing to rent the Dame Shirley Plaza for 18 weeks, ending in late September, “we’re good to go.” It would begin in May.
Ellermeyer said that she is planning vendors to begin setting up at 7 a.m. and the market would be open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Theoretically, the county could rent it during the afternoon and evening, Hagwood said.
Supervisor Jeff Engel initially supported Correira’s recommendation. He did come around to agreeing to have it on the agenda again immediately.
Hagwood pointed out that the market would be in his district and he wanted other supervisors to support it. He said that the county needs to “navigate a path to see that this happens.” He added that it was important enough to the community and downtown businesses for the board to take an extra week and “knock some off the rough edges,” on policies.
Stuhr said that if county ordinances are involved it would take her department more time.
Correira also voiced concerns about providing portable toilet facilities for participants. In the past, the county has tried to provide them, but that has proved too expensive. But Ellermeyer said that providing the necessary facilities is not a problem.
Ellermeyer also stressed that the Saturday Morning Market is not a farmer’s marketplace.