The High Point Market train has officially left the station, but it may not be the end of the line for vendors and customers. The next stop? Possibly C. W. Henry School.
“My fingers remain crossed,” said Meg Hagele, who owns High Point Café and ran the Sunday market at the Allens Lane station. “There’s been a few [of my past vendors who’ve] expressed interest [in continuing to] do the market.”
Last summer’s market was more than a farmers market featuring other vendors like jewelry makers, crafters and local musicians.
But Hagele said she had to nix the market from her business ventures because it was too expensive. Between SEPTA’s $200 monthly charge for immobilizing the horseshoe driveway in front of the café, the insurance, extra staff inside the café and marketing, Hagele said the event racked up a $400 weekly price tag.
With high cost and extensive planning tacked on to her already packed schedule, Hagele said the market wasn’t worth it.
“Had it been wildly successful, it may have been more of a financial incentive,” she said. “I never saw that return.”
When she started the market, Hagele intended to charge all vendors involved—whether they participated in that week’s market or not—$45 weekly. But the charge didn’t go over well with vendors, so she lowered it to $10 a week.
“That just meant that I had to make my money inside on drinks and pastries instead of having the market being self sustaining,” she said.
In addition to minimal cash flow from the actual market, Hagele—who has two coffee shops in Mt. Airy and spends several hours a week working at the Carpenter Lane location—said the market consumed too much of her time.
“I have to focus my energy on working my shops,” she said. “I realized I couldn’t split my energy so much.”
While the market will be gone for good at the Allens Lane High Point Café, Hagele said she’s hoping to have local musicians playing during the summer. Since it won’t require closing the cul-da-sac, there would be no charges from SEPTA.
But Hagele hopes the market will continue elsewhere.
Karen Schlechter, who was a regular Sunday market-goer, said she’d enjoy the market much more in a different location.
“Weekends are really crowded here because everyone comes and has breakfast with their kids,” she said. “It was a little too much under foot.”
Schlechter may get her wish.
A few months ago, Hagele said she met with the C.W. Henry’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA) members because there were talks of Weavers Way housing its summer market at the school during the grocery store’s six-to-seven-week closure during its renovations.
Because she doesn’t want to see the market go, Hagele said she offered 10 hours of advising for the market as well as her vendors.
The PTA has yet to respond to the request, and C. W. Henry Principal Caren Trantas said the PTA would have to get the market OK’ed with Philadelphia School District’s Office of Risk Management. No members from the PTA could be reached.
This wasn’t the first time Hagele went to C. W. Henry to inquire about placing a market in the yard after school was out. Four-to-five years ago, she was told a market at the school would be too large of an insurance liability, even though she intended to buy her own insurance.
Meanwhile, Weavers Way has applied for permits to house its market in front of their 555 Carpenter Lane building.
But the co-op’s communications director Jonathan McGoran said Weavers Way is still exploring options.
“The store is going to be closed from six-to-seven weeks over the summer, probably, so we’re trying to explore different ways of still operating,” he said. “One was at the school since it would be during the summer, but that’s still something we’re exploring.”
Additionally, the Mt. Airy Farmer’s Market, after briefly departing for two years to run on Germantown Avenue, will return to the sidewalk on Carpenter Lane in front of C. W. Henry.
Farmers market program manager Matt Weiss said that weekly market will start up on May 17 from 3 to 7 p.m. Weiss said he still has yet to talk with Weavers Way about the clash of markets.