The weekly Sunday Harvest Market on Honolulu Avenue has been a “financial black hole” for the Montrose Shopping Park Association in recent years, and has brought dissatisfaction to merchants with stores in the shopping park, reports the Glendale News Press.
The Harvest Market features produce, artisans, secondhand treasures and local organizations every Sunday. It was created by MSPA board members, including John Drayman, in 2002.
But it has been operating in the red and was expected to lose $52,000 this year, according to the GNP.
“As of March 3, the market had brought in an average of roughly $600 per week and was forecast to have an annual loss of $52,000, according to a treasurer’s report. In 2007, the market was bringing in more than $1,500 on average each week,” reported the GNP.
In addition to a decline in revenue, Harvest Market bookkeeping was lacking. Profits from the market were left un-deposited for months.
“Monthly treasurer’s reports from 2008 — the year that market revenues dropped by nearly 60% — show that money went un-deposited for months at a time,” reported the GNP.
“While the city receives annual budgets from the association board as part of its management contract, the budgets are opaque with minimal break-down of line-item expenses or revenues.
“And with few merchants attending the board’s monthly meetings, some local merchants say the closely-knit group goes largely unchecked,” said the GNP.
Ken Grayson of spoke out in a letter to the City of Glendale against the recent operations of the MSPA.
“For several years now while I write out a check for the MSP Assessment I feel that the money is not serving the majority of the shopping park members. The bulk of the money assessed is being spent on Sunday only events, when there are only a small number of businesses open on Sundays…” said Grayson’s letter.
The GNP reported that one-third of the MSPA’s operating budget comes from shopping park tenants.
“Roughly a third of the association’s annual $300,000-budget comes from tax assessments paid by tenants within the associated business improvement district, which the association operates through a contract with the city,” reported the GNP.
The GNP also reports that more than one business owner has become skeptical of the Harvest Market, but many of them are afraid to speak up.
“Despite the money-losing venture [the Harvest Market] and growing dissatisfaction among Montrose business owners, the association continued to tout its effectiveness and shut out anyone who made critical inquiries about revenues and costs associated with the Sunday event, said several merchants, who declined to speak on the record for fear of retribution,” said the GNP.
The MSPA created a “Harvest Market Oversight Committee” in April 2011. The next two weeks were the highest-yielding days of the year for the market, reported the GNP.
Drayman responded saying that high gas prices were keeping people in town, and Mark Sheridan of the MSPA said that the winter is traditionally the slowest season of the year for the market, reported the GNP.
After the oversight committee was created, market vendors reported a difference in payment procedure as well.
No one person was ever in charge of collecting weekly payments from vendors until recently. Some days it fell to Drayman, other days it was another market organizer, reported the GNP.