Marketplace future in limbo without vendors

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 3, 2001

Saturday, November 03, 2001

The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ – City of Natchez and Alcorn State University officials

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are discussing ways to attract more vendors and customers to Main

Street Marketplace, said Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith.

The market has seen slower traffic in recent months, prompting

some to call for reduced hours or the closure of the facility.

But Smith said those suggestion have not been discussed.

&uot;We’ve had off-and-on conversations with Alcorn, trying

to come up with ideas and suggestions on how to improve participation

at the market,&uot;&160;Smith said.

The main option the city and Alcorn, partners in the two-year-old

project, have considered has been the possibility of a private

individual or group leasing the facility.

That person or group could then lease out smaller spaces to

vendors, Smith said.

&uot;Right now, that’s just a possibility we’re looking at,&uot;&160;Smith

said. He said no details of who might lease the facility or what

form such an agreement could take have yet been discussed.

Main Street Marketplace opened in October 1999. The building

is owned by St. Mary Basilica, which leases the facility to the

City of Natchez for $1,500 a month.

The facility is actually run by Alcorn, Smith said. University

officials involved with the project could not be reached for comment.

As a volunteer, Chef Regina Charboneau has coordinated several

food-themed festivals at the market this year to drum up interest

in the facility.

&uot;I’ve totally fallen in love with (the market),&uot;&160;she


But she also believes that if the facility is to stay open

in the long term, some changes must be made. Charboneau believes

there should be &uot;limited hours&uot; of operation.

Charboneau also said she would support closing the market for

a limited time to give operators a chance to &uot;regroup&uot;

before opening again with different hours. One option might be

to open the market only on weekends, she said.