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Sep 28, 2012 4:25 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Village Nixes Sidewalk Sales During SeptemberFest

Oct 4, 2012 1:54 PM

A handful of Southampton Village business owners were perturbed over a notice from Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley early last week asking them not to put merchandise out on the sidewalk during this past weekend’s SeptemberFest.

Although a sidewalk sale has never been a part of the SeptemberFest, Karen Connolly, executive director of the Southampton Chamber of Commerce, which co-sponsored the event, said some merchants were upset that they were told they couldn’t set up their racks and tables to take advantage of the festival crowds.

“In an effort to retain the distinguished characteristic of the Village of Southampton, it was decided, as in past years, not to turn the event into a sidewalk sale,” said the letter from the village, which was delivered by the Chamber of Commerce at the mayor’s request.

Instead of allowing businesses to display their merchandise on racks and tables over the weekend, the village encouraged merchants to participate instead in a sidewalk sale this Columbus Day weekend, October 6 to 8.

This year’s Southampton SeptemberFest was organized by the Rogers Memorial Library, the Southampton Historical Museum, the Chamber of Commerce, the Parrish Art Museum and the Southampton Cultural Center, but the decision to leave merchandise off the sidewalks was made by village officials. The village owns the sidewalks and generally prohibits sidewalk displays.

“There were requests for everything,” Mayor Epley said last week. “The reality is that you can’t do that—it would be one big flea market all over.” He also said that keeping the sidewalks clear made it safer for the festival entertainers who were walking up and down Main Street and Jobs Lane, such as stilt walker Keith Lief.

Some merchants weren’t pleased, however, saying the decision alienated them.

“I thought this was supposed to be for merchants,” said Toni Lea Corwin of Corwin’s Jewelers on Main Street. “The whole point to SeptemberFest was to bring people into town. If there’s an individual with a problem, then an individual merchant should tailor it back. Don’t penalize all merchants after telling us for three years, ‘Let’s make it work,’ ‘What are you going to do that’s special?’ ‘Let’s make it festive.’”

Ms. Connolly said that SeptemberFest has not incorporated a sidewalk sale and is instead about a “collaboration of nonprofits to benefit the arts and culture.”

“The mission is to generate interest in the community, music, and create a festive atmosphere,” she said.

Mayor Epley said he didn’t think the lack of sidewalk sales would impact sales at all. “This is not intended to hurt anyone’s business,” he said last week. “It’s intended to help business.”

Suzanne Reynolds of Aunt Suzie’s Clothes for Kids on Main Street expressed some frustration about how “last minute” the letter was and said she should have been able to put a rack of clothes out this year like she has in the past. “A lot of people would drive through town and say, ‘Let’s stop,’” she said about last year’s SeptemberFest. “I think it enhances the weekend.”

Other merchants, like Valerie Revere of Twist on Jobs Lane, said she’s okay with the village’s request and grateful for the traffic that SeptemberFest brought. “Anything the village promotes offseason is a plus for us,” she said.

But with such drizzly weather on Saturday, few stores put merchandise out anyway.

According to Ms. Corwin, she and her family had put together a display with balloons specifically for SeptemberFest that sat under their overhang on Saturday.

“It was wet and a little quiet, but we were proud to put out our table,” she said, adding that she’d like to set up the table every weekend.

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If this village cared about its merchants, we'd have our own Village Chamber of Commerce that would advocate for this village and this village only! But we are tethered to the "Southampton Town Chamber of Commerce and their interests are not exclusive to this village! As far as the Septemberfest bringing in revenue for the village merchants, its impossible if restraints are put on the ones that want to attract with an outside display for the day only!!! This festival does nothing for retail and ...more
By lursagirl (245), southampton on Sep 28, 12 6:00 PM
2 members liked this comment
This is on you, madam, and other 11968 merchants to create and administer your own Southampton Village Chamber of Commerce.
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Sep 28, 12 11:21 PM
Next year we should move Septemberfest to Hampton Bays. Wait no maybe Water Mill. No wait maybe North Sea!!!! You should embrace the fact that a group of individuals/businesses/non-profits gathered together and are attempting to promote this village in whatever possible method they can. You should be helping not complaining. Or is this your idea of helping? Were you at all of the Septemberfest meetings. I doubt it. Stop whining!
By Puros (30), Hampton Bays on Oct 4, 12 11:31 AM
Sounds like they are saying, "Let's have a festival but make sure people don't have too much fun". A great part of the appeal of any festival or fair is sidewalk shopping. Village officials should get their noses out of the air and rejoin the folks who actually live here all year.
By SusieD (115), Southampton on Sep 28, 12 6:14 PM
1 member liked this comment
My display is significantly more involved then what this article says. My point of frustration is I WENT to the chamber three months ago and asked if i could but a stand out and Karen Connolly herself told me it would be ok. So I spent my money and time to design a display then two days before the event they say we can't because they say it will change "distinguished characteristics". Who do they intend to attract? Secondly how was this event funded? By taxpayers like the merchants of Southampton? ...more
By Corwin1879 (40), Southampton on Sep 28, 12 6:40 PM
2 members liked this comment
Emperor Epley has spoken! Quiet, infidels, or to the lions with you ..... !
By Nero (301), Sag Harbor on Sep 28, 12 7:06 PM
1 member liked this comment
I also find it ironic that WE, the merchants, have become the INTERLOPERS!!!!!! Thats MESSED UP!
By lursagirl (245), southampton on Sep 28, 12 7:41 PM
They started doing this in Sag Harbor several years and now have seemed to include the sidewalk sales in all of the down town events now. I have never hear any have a complaint about it. When they first started doing it, I thought it was going to be bad. Well it isn't bad and I have come full circle and now like it. I think Southapton should try several times, work out any problems and I think you will see that most people love, like they do in Sag Harbor.
By EH123 (22), East Hampton on Sep 28, 12 10:20 PM
A "famers' market" with only one stall selling vegetables, a couple of sad bands playing in the rain, and no sidewalk sales. This is a silly waste of taxpayers' money and no help to the village. On a normal rainy weekend, plenty of people come out to shop--but with these less than appealing offerings, everyone seems to have stayed home or headed East to shop or eat. Rock bands don't bring in the kind of retail business that the village needs. Whoever is running this event, should be removed ...more
By localcitizen (110), Southampton on Sep 29, 12 1:53 PM
1 member liked this comment
Unfortunately, today's weather was cloudy and drizzly, so we can't know whether Southampton might have had a better turnout in good weather. One thing was clear. The few stores that dared to have merchandise spilling out their doors (at least three on Job's Lane) looked so much more festive and inviting than their drab neighbors. Next year, if this event gets a third chance, merchants should as a group ignore the Village rule against outdoor displays! It's very unlikely that they would dare ...more
By SusieD (115), Southampton on Sep 29, 12 11:32 PM
1 member liked this comment
I hope to see your display out this weekend!!!!!
By Puros (30), Hampton Bays on Oct 4, 12 11:25 AM
Was the Village aware that Sag Harbor was hosting a large music festival on this same weekend? Ms. Bromley's photos are on the front page.

Also, it would be interesting to know what Southampton's Fest actually cost, including advertising, promotion, posters, flyers, labor, overtime pay (Highway, Parks and Rec,, PD, misc. Village employees, etc.), materials, bands, fees paid to organizers etc., etc..

Was there a budget for this, and did the entire Village Board approve the budget ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Sep 30, 12 12:57 PM
1 member liked this comment