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ABA Fuming Over Crafters' Use of Market House for Midnight Madness

The Annapolis Business Association says the move goes against the mission of encouraging customers to patronize downtown businesses.

The Annapolis Business Association (ABA) is crying foul over the city's decision to allow a nonprofit to sell crafts inside the Market House during Thursday's Midnight Madness event.

"The whole intent of Midnight Madness is to fill the stores of our merchants," ABA President Sean O'Neill said. "By doing this, the city has completely missed the mission of Midnight Madness."

Stepping Out for Breast Cancer, an Annapolis-based nonprofit, has sold crafts during Midnight Madness inside Maryland State Education Association building at 140 Main St. for years, City Manager Mike Mallinoff said. This year, the group can't use that space for their fundraiser so they called the city looking for help.

"We’re just opening it up and allowing them to use it," Mallinoff said. "Sean could have [used it] as well if he had asked."

O'Neill said the city never told him the Market House was available, and no one told the ABA, which organizes Midnight Madness, that the space was going to be used by the nonprofit.

He found out through a craft vendor who called him on Monday looking for table space.

"The City Council didn’t vote on a lease like they are supposed to because it’s public property," O'Neill said. "The people that are doing it never came to us. We’re the organizers of this event."

He said the nonprofit selling at the teachers' association was different because that is private property.

"We could have made better use of that space," O'Neill said. "We would have put in people to wrap presents. We would have put in Santa. We would have put in carolers rather than putting in that craft fair that is competing with our members."

Mallinoff said the decision to allow the breast cancer charity to use the space was made last week. The city didn't issue a lease because they aren't charging the nonprofit for use of the space.

"We thought it was a worthy nonprofit, and that was the decision we made," Mallinoff said.

Stepping Out for Breast Cancer has not yet responded to Patch's request for comment. The charity has been around since 1993 and purchases wigs, prosthetics and other medical items for breast cancer survivors.

O'Neill said that the worthiness of the organization running the craft show is not the point.

"It’s not a cheap event to pull of," he said. "We've spent thousands of dollars in advertising, and they are just riding our coattails on the sly. The dysfunction in City Hall, this is the epitome of it."

Mary Cima December 05, 2012 at 09:53 PM
WOW! I'm a downtown RESIDENT who regularly shops locally. However, after reading about the ABA's response to this decision, I think I'll go to the mall...AFTER I shop at the "Stepping Out for Breast Cancer" venue. How LUDICROUS to believe that crafters will truly compete with the downtown businesses. If the ABA is so concerned about the money they've spent on advertising - they should use the charity's 'coat tail ride' as a tax deduction! You want to wrap presents/purchases at the Market House - go ahead now that it'll be open. Finally, I've been made incredibly angy and disgusted by the ABA and this indeed, will impact my future shopping habits.
Melinda December 06, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Really Chris? You've missed the point entirely. It IS about helping others; it IS about giving back. I worked with David Alexander of Annapolis to raise more than $80,000 for "Stepping Out for Breast Cancer" last year, and I volunteered my services. You can be sure my FIRST stop tomorrow night will be Market House. Downtown Annapolis stores, is this THE guy you want speaking for you??
Judy B December 06, 2012 at 01:41 AM
Hi Mary, I appreciate your passion and I hope to provide some background to clarify the concerns. I have been the Coordinator of Midnight Madness for 11 of the past 12 years. Mr. O’Neill has absolutely no ill will toward ‘Stepping Out for Breast Cancer’. This is about a disappointing situation caused by the City which does impact the local merchants as well as all the charities we had to turn away from public fundraising/sales. This year alone, I had to turn down 7 requests from other worthwhile local causes for fundraising opportunities in public places. Vending is typically not permitted in public spaces in Annapolis and even if we can get that waived, we must allow all these groups if we allow one. I had to say no to some very handsome young men this year, a boy scout troop wanted to sell their delicious chocolate caramel corn to raise money….if you needed to buy a tasty hostess gift, and you spent $20 on a tin, you are not going into Kilwin’s or Uncle Bob’s Fudge Shop to buy a box of chocolates. If a shopkeeper were to allow them inside their store to sell, that is perfectly fine and we’d be thrilled that it worked out. Last year a charity asked if they could sell raffle tickets, we had to say no to that….when I explained why, they asked, “what can we do?”…we made up a different plan, Stan & Joe’s donated some space to allow customers to pose for Bad Christmas Sweater photos in return for a donation to the charity, they raised almost $1000.
Judy B December 06, 2012 at 01:43 AM
If the crafts were set up inside the old Fawcetts building, no problem, that is private property…We’d be happy to include that in the press releases. Several months ago, we began the process to secure the necessary permits from the city, and all that goes along with that. I alerted WRNR and WNAV that they must secure special permits in order to put up a simple tailgate style tent on city property. We all have “day jobs” and have spent most nights and weekends working on these 2 events. It’s a labor of love. We enjoy living in a strong and vibrant Annapolis and it all starts with a thriving business community. If you buy a precious handmade dog collar at one of the craft booths, you will not go into Paws Pet Boutique to buy one. If you buy a lovely knit sweater at the crafters booth, you will not go into Irish Traditions or Alpaca to look for one. If you buy sterling silver earrings, you won’t go to the big sale at Augustine’s tomorrow night. Every penny counts for small business. The public space should be open to all the charities that come to us or none of them. It needs to be fair for everyone (including the event sponsors and producer’s) The goods and services available via the charities should not be the same goods and services that are offered at our stores.
Judy B December 06, 2012 at 01:44 AM
This is not about denying a charity the ability to raise funds, this is about taking a sucker punch from City Hall. If you would like to join our small committee next year and help in adding a larger charity umbrella to this, Mary, we would welcome your energy, passion and time. Right now it feels like the only appropriate response to future requests would be “who do you know in city hall that can sneak one by for you?” Respectfully, Judy
Sean O'Neill December 06, 2012 at 01:59 AM
The issue here is that a special request was made by an Alderman or Alderwoman and because he/she is in public office, the rules were circumnavigated for this group. I volunteer gobs of time to non-profits and fully understand how difficult it is to raise funds, but the rules are the rules and they are to be followed. Someone took advantage of their position in public office here and that is not fair to all the other non-profits in town...or the businesses that pay taxes...and at much higher rates than resident.
Safety first December 06, 2012 at 05:00 AM
This is just one of the many reasons I who am a long time resident of this city will not spend a penny on any business downtown. All they the business community can do is complain about everything. Come on. A non-profit trying to do some good or a bunch of greedy business' trying to line there pockets. I choose the non-profit every single time. You business owners downtown are your own worst enemies. Just driving more nails in your own coffins. Oh well. Sooner you all are gone the better. Maybe the city can get a group of decent business people downtown who will actually sell products the people want and need. Merry Christmas to you all.
Safety first December 06, 2012 at 05:02 AM
Sean. Get over it or move your business out of town. It is that simple.
Penny Smith December 06, 2012 at 12:15 PM
The residents are the ones who are paying the bulk of the taxes and who suffer the bulk of the inconveniences....There's nothing wrong with letting them use it...it's better than having the Market House empty.....hopefully next year the Market House will be leased out to tenants and managed by the City - no useless middle man skimming the profits.
R Chris December 06, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Mary, I am also a resident and a merchant on Main St. My problem isn't with a charity that has co-existed with Midnight Madness for years, but with a city who can do as it pleases when it pleases. What happens if Mallinoff decides to put a charity disco event in Market House next year with loud music and free beer until 3:00 am? My guess is that it is his sole discretion. My guess is also that Market House will probably be empty then too;) I wish that the charity would have come to businesses earlier and contributed towards marketing and advertising of the event together. It would have added to the Midnight Madness event if they had. My small business put in thousands towards advertising and marketing for this event. This isn't to "line my pockets" (as the above idiot alluded too), but to support an event that is good for the town and the community. It is my favorite downtown event of the year. While my business isn't a charity, I do have the privilege of providing five Annapolis residents with salaries and health benefits for themselves and their families. This is something I am very proud of. I'm pretty sure that Westfield Mall could care less about a vibrant and safe downtown Annapolis or a charity event for that matter. I do hope you will continue to support downtown businesses and residents. Thank you and Happy Holidays.
Matthew Barry December 06, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Fact of the matter is that O'Neil comes off sounding petty and if his gripe truly represents the opinion of small business owners in downtown Annapolis, I am not sure I want to give "you" my support anymore... This is a holiday event, good will to men, love thy neighbor, all of that stuff... If he wanted the Market space he should have inquired. As a consumer, the more things to see and buy downtown the bigger the draw... Good for the City.
Karen Essen December 06, 2012 at 02:52 PM
To me, this highlights a broader problem that I'm sure many of us wonder about: Why does a town with such an educated (and generally affluent) population have such an incompetent city government? Yes, we all have been laughing about the Market House situation for a decade now, but when you put the humor aside, it's truly emblematic of the ineptitude of our elected leaders. No property owners association would get away with this level of buffoonery, but because it's the city government, we've grown accustomed to shrugging our shoulders and letting these guys slide?
Sean O'Neill December 06, 2012 at 03:25 PM
My point exactly! We didn't know the market house was available! It was believed to be a construction zone.
Safety first December 06, 2012 at 05:50 PM
R Chris. Are you really trying to tell us that this is not about what moneys you make during this event? You make yourself sound like a Idiot when you say that this is about the city. Even though the city has shown for years that they are completely incapable of running a lemonade stand it is still a city owned property. Would you rather it sit empty for another ten years so you will not have competition? What a silly petty little money grabbing thing to show the people who keep you and your 5 employees working. As i stated before not one business in that area will receive a dime from me solely because of attitudes like yours. Try doing something for the community like the non-profits who are trying to make the lives of the others better. This should make you happy. Maybe because of the nonprofit being in the market for 1 night it will bring more shoppers to that area. I guess you just don't care about that. Merry Christmas!
Sean O'Neill December 06, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Ummm. Safety first, didn't you say this about a downtown business at 7:17 am on Saturday, October 9, 2010: "One of the nicest shops in Annapolis. Have shopped there many times and always look forward to going back." And calling someone an idiot? How immature! For the record, your posts have the same grammatical errors time and again. You spell it "h-e-r-e" for a place and "h-e-a-r" for a sound. And when it is "t-h-e-r-e" it is a place, "t-h-e-i-r" is someone's and "t-h-e-y-'-r-e" is short for 'they are.' Remember that when you point the finger, there are 3 more pointing right back at you.
R Chris December 06, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Annapolischatter just posted a great article that sums up the sentiment towards of the City of Annapolis and this event.. They reference some of the people who were in this article and who commented on this post. This really isn't about the non-profits. They unfortunately are the ones stuck in the middle. Sean. Don't worry about responding to people like Safety First. You can't win with them. They know everything about everything. I read a few of the previous posts by this person. Absurd rambling.
Edward Bergman December 06, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Lots of "inside baseball" on display here, plus the usual grammatical snarks, doubtless exchanged among Annapolis regulars. But we newcomers do find problems with the selection available on offer in downtown and rarely shop there, even with the convenience of free parking. Very little of what I need on a regular basis, other than Tru-Value or Mills and the occasional restaurant or bar, is available there. This observation is I realize off-subject a bit, but still worthy of attention.
J Carter December 06, 2012 at 07:47 PM
The ABA never seems to mind yet another junk t-shirt shop or tourist novelty shop full of yet more "crabby" garbage. Do they really think a charitable craft sale will "detract" from the majority of worthless junk stores downtown? Downtown shopping is about as unique as you'll find in any strip mall....now I know why.
R Chris December 06, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Edward. Your comments are perhaps the most on-subject that I have read. This is also perhaps why many viable and relevant businesses stay away from downtown. They choose to stay away from all of the politics. Wouldn't it be great if the Market House were ground zero for a rising tide of downtown businesses. Businesses, residents and consumers would all benefit from a leased Market House. Tonight's antics are just an embarrassed city government that wants to give the false impression to visitors that the Market House is in use.
joro December 06, 2012 at 08:51 PM
Safety - You REALLY don't think its the businesses downtown that are greedy do you? Have you never heard of the horrific rents they are charged by the landlords? Why hasn't the city tried to help the downtown merchants with that? I guarantee you that if the landlords where fined for every vacant store on main street they would get reasonable with their rents. You can get angry at the downtown businesses and snub them but you obviously have never tried to run your own small business. It's scary and you are on your own. I for one donate a lot to charity all year long and having family members die of breast cancer I take it to heart. But every time you patronize the Mall instead of small business you are hurting the very lifestyle that everyone in Annapolis enjoys. These quaint stores are not making gobs of money and some of them are actually struggling. Have a heart a and go to both the Market house AND the merchants downtown. :-)
Jenny Seth December 06, 2012 at 08:58 PM
I think I can speak for the ABA in saying that "junk t-shirt" shops are good in small amounts and any good tourist town has their share, but I'd also like to point out that Annapolis has a nice variety of "unique" shops. Unlike what you'd see in a "strip mall" here are a few worthy business that will be open tonight :-) I've omitted any "tee shirt" only shops just to show how many options there are in town!! Zachary's Fine Jewelers -Hats In The Belfry- Shades Unlimited -W.R. Chance Jewelers-Black Dog -Russell Cather Levi Art Gallery-Annapolis Cigar Co.-White House Black Market - Easy Street-Helly Hansen - Peppers - Shades of the Bay-sale tonight!!! they're combining shops with Shades of the bay-Irish Shop with local stuff too Lilac Bijoux -Kokopelli-Gallery 1883 Spice and Tea exchange -Casa Nova Jewelry The Leader -Snyder's Bootery-Annapolis Running Shop- Lou Lou Accessories Madison-Labelle Cezanne Fine Jewelry -Mary And Blanche -American Craftworks Collection -Treasure Island - Alpaca International ***REAL LLama's will be there tonight!! Capital Comics -McBride Gallery -Plat Du Jour - Laurance Clothing Olive Oil and pottery...In Market Space-The Pink Crab -A newer nice women's clothing store. Sperry Topsider-Chico's -Blanca Flora - Silver & Jewelry ON Green Street-Hobo Bags And there are more!! But I've run out of time. And I think there is plenty to make this town "unique".
Edward Bergman December 06, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Jenny's point is that several shops in downtown Annapolis may well appeal to upscale tourists and occasional gift-hunters, but what about residents who have daily needs? How about a decent bakery? It's Whole Foods (and limited there) or nothing if you crave decent bread. How about a deli that does NOT sell Boars Head but does sell fresh mozzarella and aged grana? How about a butcher that carries regular and fine cuts, takes orders, and gives lessons in breaking down a carcass? Can everyone in the historic district and much of Eastport be happy with driving distances for mediocre provisions or worse? Were a couple stores along these or similar lines to open, other merchants would have much more local traffic. Now, it's a zero-sum game with the malls. Boutiques are not the definitive answer to downtown's retail take.
Jenny Seth December 06, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Edward-totally agree...we can use more Need-Based businesses in downtown! There is a pretty cool looking bakery opening in Eastport called Bakers and? (bakers and co. maybe?)...It's not open yet, but looks like it could be great for D-towners. Also! Great Harvest is pretty close. Love that place. We could use more like those. Not since Rookies Meat Market has there been a place in walking distance for daily needs-...maybe a good option for someone looking for a biz.venture! If the residents will give them enough business-It's disheartening that Stevens is leaving due to lack of business. Support Local...even if we have to pay a tad more. It'll keep places like Stevens around and attract independent deli's and more...But...that all being said, when looking for gifts for x-mas downtown has lots of really nice shops. Some look (and are) upscale-but are still as reasonable as any "mall" store. Any many of the owners are working tonight with smiles. Happy Holidays :-)
Mike December 06, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Some folks have gotten this right, but many do not. It is entirely possible for the charity to be worthwhile and yet: for the legally-prescribed process to decide to have been trampled by the city (an issue regardless of the worth of the charity) OR for the legally-prescribed process to have been followed to the letter, but for that process to be hopelessly flawed and unaccountable to the taxpayer (also a problem regardless of the charity). When the city's representative says: "We thought it was a worthy nonprofit, and that was the decision we made" as Mallinoff did, EVERYONE should be concerned that the city government is doing whatever it wants, willy-nilly, with OUR property. Which has nothing to do with the particular charity in question. What costs were incurred to make the decision, to open the building, to provide the added security, to close the building, to pay for the lighting, etc? What damages were done? What liability did we risk had someone gotten injured? Etc, etc. That Market House is OURS. Suppose Malinoff wanted to let a buddy live there for a week. Sounds like he'd do it if he thought he could get away with it. Does anyone honestly think the city government cares a lick what we, the residents, think about any issue so long as they feel comfortable that they can stay in power?
Safety first December 06, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Sean. Yes that is very true. I did say that and it was over 2 years ago. That was about the country store on MD ave. I have not shopped downtown one time since then. I just think it's great that you thought so much of my post you researched so far back. Thank you. Grammar mistakes? Is that it? Wow! You got me on that one. The point stands. Downtown offers nothing more then T-shirts and bars. Chris. The city is run by fools. We all agree on that. But complaining that a non-profit that is trying to help others is getting a free spot in a vacant building do's not look good for the ABA. As for the link you provided. I read the article and have one thing to say to the author of that article. It is not my responsibility as a shopper to buy just to make sure a business survives. It is up to the business to offer goods and services that would bring me and my wallet to there establishment.
Heywood December 07, 2012 at 01:18 AM
I'm pretty sure there's a special place in hell for people who talk about breast cancer survivors "riding their coattails" and "taking away their business." What a load of pathetic, small town nonsense.
Karen Essen December 07, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Agreed, Mike, and that goes to my earlier question about how do we end up with characters like this in our local government in the first place. I mean, Josh Cohen wasn't even elected mayor, he was given the job after the actual winner was discovered to be a habitual thief! And there wasn't even a "Hmm, that's odd..." response from us, we just accepted it as business as usual. Just like we do the Market House, we accept it as no business as usual. I'm beginning to believe that since we have such low expectations for these local officials, we let their ineptitude go...

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