Open air market off to a good start
STEUBENVILLE — While most teens were sleeping in Saturday, Masha Dougherty was up at the crack of dawn to make Amish-style doughnuts for the Harmonium Project’s first open air market downtown.
“I think it’s really cool and worth the effort,” Dougherty said. “We’ve been coming to First Fridays on Fourth and selling since last June. We’ve sold quite a few doughnuts already, so I’m happy.”
Marc Barnes and his wife, Maura, who organized the event, said as “first-evers” go they were pleased with the response from vendors as well as shoppers.
“We’re hoping to see slow and steady growth, more people buying and more people selling,” Marc Barnes said. “By late August, it should really be hopping.”
They’d originally planned to block off South Fourth between Market and Washington Streets, but backed away from that idea after 6th Ward Councilman Bob Villamagna raised concerns about how closing the street every Saturday morning would impact merchants.
“We don’t want to block any business,” Marc Barnes said.
“The main reason we’re doing this is to support the businesses operating down here, to try to boost the foot traffic here. Everything we do as the Harmonium Project is to support the revitalization of downtown Steubenville — if we’re doing something that could hurt any business owner who has the courage to be down here day in and day out, we’re not going to do it.”
Vendors Mona Pehanich and her husband, Rick, loved what they saw happening.
“I think it’s a good idea, bringing people downtown,” said Mona Pehanich, who had tables stacked with items from her three home-based businesses — Magnabilities, Country Scent & Suds and Blondie’s & Boo Boo’s Vinyl Arts & Crafts. “Revitalizing the downtown, that’s what the city needs to bring it back to life.”
Her friend, Terri Anderson, agreed.
“People are always putting this town down, I feel like we need to see positive things happening,” said Anderson, proprietor of Papparozzi Jewelry. “It’s great to see them trying to restore Steubenville, like it was back in the day.”
“It gets our names out there, too,” Mona Pehanich added. “This way we don’t have to travel out of town to sell our stuff, we can sell it here.”
Shoppers seemed to be enjoying themselves, too.
“I saw it on Facebook,” a woman browsing a table of flea market finds said. “It sounded like a great idea. I hope it grows.”
Vendor Sandra Chmelovski said it definitely has promise.
“Saturdays can be a tricky time,” said Chmelovski, owner of Made By You. “But we’ve had a lot of people walking through, I know I’ve had a successful morning. It has promise, people just need to be patient.”
Rich Pehanich agreed, pointing out it’s a chance for vendors to sell close to home rather than packing up and driving to more distant locales.
“But it helps downtown businesses, too,” he said. “People are going to stop in their shops while they’re here. It’s going to help everybody.”