Food 4 Thought: 16th Melrose Street Fair

 

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Vendors and visitors alike have come to expect good things out of 7th Avenue’s annual street fair, and by all accounts, last month’s 16th run did not disappoint. First time organizers Rochelle Poulton (Seventh Avenue Merchants Association) and Denver Davis of Denver’s Classic Car Care joined veteran Street Fair planners Pam Pawlowski (Community Alliance of Seventh Avenue), Lisa Huggins-Hubbard (Phx. Neighborhood Services) and Jackie Caro of Marketing Ideals Company to execute the event. This Melrose Life hosted a booth to collect comments about Melrose and the fair:

“We met a lot of awesome humans,” said Bree Pear, co-owner of Only Human Co. “Sales went incredibly well.” Pear and partner Chrissy Saint-Massy make and sell t-shirts that inspire label-free kindness toward all humans. Both struggled to think of what could have gone better. “Well, there wasn’t much follow up except for an automated receipt until a week ago,” opined Saint-Massey. “Another e-mail in between would be helpful.”

Quick Yeats is a full-time artisan and street vendor who’s circuited fairs throughout metro Phoenix since 2012. “I really love the demographic that comes to this,” she said. “I felt like we had great support today.” Her Quick and the Dead merchandize varies from her paintings, to recycled bike chain bracelets, to handcrafted Star Wars figurines. “As long as this show doesn’t interfere with the Corondo or any other neighborhood shows, I’ll continue to come because I love this neighborhood.”

Yeats also suggested future fairs narrow their target market. “It depends on what you want your show to look like,” she elaborated. “If (Melrose) wants to curate an eclectic show with handmade things, you have to screen your people, otherwise you get a lot of people who are reselling things from china.” She proposed adding a nominal jury fee, and scheduling setup in shifts on both sides of the street.

Down the way, Tony Carrion of Eagle creations said he noticed several improvements from previous years. “I liked that they let (me) in earlier,” he said. “I did well.” Eagle imports stainless steel jewelry from Brazil. He targets ages 40 to 80. “Younger customers look but don’t really buy,” he said. Carrion estimated a ten-fold return on the cost of his booth, and suggested Melrose consider a several day street fair like Tucson’s 4th Avenue.

Steve Millweed hosted Earth Art Creations at the fair for a second time. “There’s security at First Friday, but it’s not like here,” he said. “I like the fact the whole road is blocked and (Melrose) has people here to help you set up.” Millweed makes organic mineral home décor and said he plans to return next year. He wants Melrose to consider a 6-inch buffer in between stalls. “I have to walk into my neighbors’ (booth) to get to my merchandize,” he said. “If I’m trapped back behind a table I can’t sell.”

A S.A.M.A. survey of 25 vendors revealed overwhelming satisfaction. 80% rated the registration price as “just perfect” and 92% said they would return next year. The survey represented a fraction of those who participated and were not identified.

“The Street Fair is great for the neighborhood,” said Refuge Cafe manager John Strawn. “But as a business north of the canal, we lose revenue on that day.” 7th Avenue was closed at Camelback Road and there were no signs directing traffic to businesses inside.

“There’s no fair in front of me; it’s way down there,” said Mark Sydnor, co-owner of MCM Furnishings north of Campbell Ave. “If it’s hard for me to get to my own work it’s going to be hard for customers.” Past years’ attempts to expand the fair to Camelback drew objections from management of the Melrose Apartments whose only entrance is just south of the canal.

Strawn said he would need a separate food license just to sell his cafe’s delicacies at Street Fair. “Last year we rented a booth and gave away free tea,” he added. “But we just didn’t see a return.” The Refuge also hosted and catered S.A.M.A.’s quarterly general meeting after hours this past January. The next will be held April 26 at The Curve Luxury Apartments. It will begin at 6 p.m. and members are encouraged to attend. To read more feedback and to take a survey about Street Fair, visit ThisMelroseLIfe.com. 

UPDATE 4/26: “It’s called a soft closure,” explained Huggins-Hubbard during S.A.M.A.’s general meeting Thursday. “Cars can still get to businesses from Camelback to Campbell.” She said she believes signs can be put out to announce business access next year. “Of course there can be signs,” she said. “Anything’s possible, we just have to ask.”