Published On: Sat, Jan 13th, 2018

Vendors at Ferry Market in New Hope Push Back Against Proposed Fee Increases

How much can a food vendor at New Hope’s new Ferry Market at 32 S. Main St. complain when they’re paying merely $700 per month to rent a stall?

Apparently quite a bit, especially when management is trying to raise fees for common services like garbage disposal and dish washing up to 80%, and there’s no cap on where rents and other costs may go come the market’s one-year anniversary next October.

Add in parking issues, food delivery limitations, limited marketing efforts, and only five days of operation per week, and retailers at this upscale food court are grumbling and waiting for the busy warm season ahead, while politely pushing back against owners Kevin and Sherri Daugherty, who revamped the Four Seasons Mall they bought in 2015.

“With the opening of Ferry Market, the Daughertys are continuing their commitment to New Hope,” reads a Jan. 10 press release from the couple’s publicity agent. “They founded Bridge Street Foundation to enhance the community and provided funding for the Bucks County Playhouse…they have developed Playhouse Inn… and, now, the Ferry Market, which is another aspect of their vision for New Hope and Bucks County.”

“The intent is to try to address underdeveloped areas to make New Hope even better,” said Kevin Daugherty in the release. “It had all been completely abandoned, even the waterfront.”

Meanwhile, vendors at Daugherty’s Ferry Market received a lump of coal for Christmas in the form of an email detailing a spike in service fees for merchants already struggling to adjust to New Hope’s post-holiday slow down.

The Market Vendors of Ferry Market responded with a letter of their own on Jan. 3.

“We would like to address the utility and maintenance bills we received for the market,” it reads. “We hope to better understand why these costs were not brought to our attention when the leases were created. None of the vendors were aware that we would incur any additional costs in this first year aside from gas, as as outlined in our contracts.

“Most of us prepared extensive business plans based on our fixed costs as your company originally proposed them. These new charges (representing an 80% average increase monthly) do greatly affect the viability of our businesses. This is particularly important to consider in the first year, with the limited advertising to date, loss of market-only parking, and little time for the market to become a repeat customer destination before our slowest season.

“Taking the above into consideration, we do not feel that it is reasonable or contractually obligatory for us to pay these bills in their current form. We are requesting a discussion between you and the group in an effort to reach a mutually acceptable solution. We are alarmed by these sudden charges and recent comments describing our leases as being ‘a third of market value.’ Whether or not this may be true, we hope it does not indicate that next year’s pricing will be beyond the scope of what is reasonable for us to continue doing business at the market.

“If you intend to propose an addendum to our leases, it is necessary that all of the vendors are on board with the terms of the addendum and any costs associated with it before we continue. We are all working hard for the future success of the Ferry Market, and hope to clear up this matter quickly so we can focus on the excitement of the year ahead together,” concludes the letter.

The Daughertys met with the Market Vendors group this week, according to an individual with direct knowledge of the negotiations, and Sherri Daugherty was presented with a copy of a communication sent to vendors last year indicating that fees would be kept stable. The Daughertys did not respond to requests for information.

Meanwhile merchants at Ferry Market are hoping that spring will bring back the crowds that seemed so promising last October. The market was quiet during the past week, but bustling on Saturday, with virtually every vendor hustling to keep up.

But many are fearful of how high lease renewal costs may go come October, with no protection from potentially massive rent increases.

“We’re trying to keep things positive,” said one food vendor who feared retribution if named. “This is all new, and we don’t want to poison the atmosphere.”

 

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Displaying 5 Comments
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  1. nonafenders@aol.com' Nona says:

    Clearly, ‘Pink,’ whether or not something is opinion IS important, since you’ve chosen to dump yours at the bottom of an article about the market’s current state of affairs – whether or not the words of the article are factual, or if your words are just a rant about whether you like the market or not. You don’t seem to have factual insight of the business plan, the owners, the vendors, the contract, or the discussions that have taken place.

    The market does not control parking, which you may be aware is at a premium in NH, and is an ongoing concern for all local businesses. Your “belief” that tourists don’t re-visit, and don’t matter is asinine. Start by defining tourist, for example. Where are they visiting from? Imagine that no part of NH was ever promoted in print or online, locally or beyond, and the decline that would exist eventually if that were the case. Tourists aren’t a problem, nor is anyone saying they’re a sole solution that anyone is holding out for. Do you know the Dougherty’s egos personally? Have they stated that they are saviors?

    Have you thought about what the vendors want in terms of a life, because if you had, you’d know that they’re already working in excess of 60-hour weeks?! Maybe you should get your rear to the market earlier, to beat those tourists you hate so much, and to soothe the savage, opinionated beast inside you with a meal prepared by the honest, hardworking vendors you seem to think are so downtrodden.

  2. jcrilley3@comcast.net' JoeSchmoe says:

    I think the owners underpriced the rents to start with and
    are now realizing that they need to capture the real costs of maintaining the building

  3. Where to begin…? First of all this is a “food court”, like they have in shopping malls. It is not a farmer’s market, which is how I remember it being presented and marketed…I am a repeat customer, none the less-in the dead of winter no less and with no special parking arrangements. I believe a tourist will likely not be a repeat customer, so why is that some thing to hold out for? I will never give the Daugherty’s any credit to feed their insufferable ego. No one person or business or council can claim to be our salvation from economic catastrophe. Whether or not this is an opinion piece is irrelevant, the fact that the vendors are being asked to pony up for the poor business plan the Daugherty’s laid out is pathetic. I think the food court should be open 7 days a week and have much later hours. I am somewhat discouraged from going more as vendors run out of food hours before official closing time. There was much more marketing to get the food court open then there has been since it has opened its doors to the public. Having a few salad items for sale occasionally does not make it a market. A bit of bait and switch here?

  4. nonafenders@aol.com' Nona says:

    Slant. How is this not an opinion piece?

    Oooh, vendors were “complaining” “quite a bit,” yet “politely pushing back”? Vendors are “grumbling” about the fact that New Hope has a seasonal customer/tourist flow? “Struggling” to adjust? “Many are fearful”? Fallacious horseshit.

    New Hope “… had all been completely abandoned, even the waterfront”?!? Since when? Oh, right according to a press release by the owner’s publicist. Mmmkay, that makes it legit true, then.

    Lazy!

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