Trail Chamber pursues option for an indoor market

"...people and businesses are asking to have the market put into one of the downtown empty buildings.” - Norm Casler, TCOC

By now, there would have been at least one indoor day of shopping at the Trail Memorial Centre gym.

But with neither the chamber nor 25 downtown businesses hungry for a Trail Indoor Market at that location – the Friday events were officially scrapped last month.

The good news for market goers is that the indoor venue could still happen, this time in a more centralized downtown location.

“We see tremendous value in the markets on the Esplanade as part of the overall effort to make the downtown more attractive to residents, visitors, and the downtown community,” said Norm Casler, executive director of the Trail and District Chamber of Commerce (TCOC). “But the indoor market is a completely different story. What we’ve been saying for two years is that people and businesses are asking to have the market put into one of the downtown empty buildings.”

The chamber has taken steps with the owner of a vacant building, the fire department, and the city to determine the legalities of hosting the indoor market in a privately owned facility.

“In fairness, it has been a lot of work to find out what has to be done before the building is deemed safe and legal,” said Casler. “But anytime you get people together who try to come up with solutions as a group, that’s a good thing. It’s late in the game, but I have the downtown businesses wholehearted support and we are willing to do it for the good of the community.”

The downtown business group includes all businesses in the core of Trail to the south side of the Victoria Street Bridge and those along Rossland Avenue.

The discussion about the market was simply to point out the fact that it was created to bring people into the downtown core, said Daniel Haley, on behalf of the group.

“The last two years the market has been in the arena, it has kept people out of the downtown core and on that side of Victoria Street.”

Haley said the group has since sent a letter thanking the TCOC for understanding the market was a deterrent to downtown Saturday shoppers.

“We would also like to point out that we were extremely pleased that the chamber and Norm Casler were prudent by looking for an opportunity to hold the market in the centre of downtown, which we felt would benefit both the market people as well as coffee shops, restaurants, and retail shops.”

Besides advocating for the downtown businesses and chamber members, Casler noted there was another key factor in TCOC’s decision to pull support for a market at the TMC locale.

Accessibility at the building’s front entrance was problematic for senior shoppers and presented logistical challenges for the vendors themselves.

Hauling goods into the gym, or wait times to access the freight elevator in the back of the building was burdensome for the merchants, especially the bigger vendors with heavy fare such as bins of potatoes or apples.

“Several of our key market vendors said ‘no way’ to doing the market again because getting in and out was too hard,” said Casler. “We’ve got to listen to the people, including the seniors homes, and vendors and businesses. They have told us that they don’t want to go to anymore events in that gym, including the markets, because the access is tough.”

Another consideration that guided TCOC’s decision was that the first two indoor markets didn’t draw much of a crowd and shoppers purchasing weighty items had the challenge of then carrying the goods to their cars parked two or more blocks away.

“A lot of them simply said they were not interested in doing that anymore,” Casler added. “Five hundred people coming downtown would definitely apply to the outdoor market,” he explained. “But the first two markets were poorly attended. Our vendors told us that and we know because we were there.”