The Downtown Penticton Association has made a final offer in a long dispute with its cancelled summer market vendors by offering them a refund on their fees minus $125, leaving the DPA with a hefty $31,250 deficit.
A letter sent to market vendors this week outlined in detail the situation the DPA finds themselves in.
“As of the end of April, the 2020 market fees collected from vendors were $95,000. The expenses to that point were $55,000. This covers the salary of the market manager, administration costs for an office and all support services associated with the planning of the market,” the letter reads.
“This has left $40,000 from the 2020 fees. Obviously, this leaves us with very few options as to how to handle the situation going forward.”
The DPA’s initial decision to offer a 50% refund of vendor fees was met with immediate backlash. Many vendors felt withholding half their fee, which is typically $850 but could be more depending on the number of spots purchased, size and type of vendor, was unfair given the cancelled market means they will not be making any revenue all summer.
But the DPA explains in their recent letter that their association is much more than just the market. It receives fees from the Business Improvement Area.
“The market is of no direct benefit to many of our businesses and services in the downtown core, including the doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants, various other service industries and property owners that all make their offices in the Business Improvement Area and pay the levy to run the DPA. Therefore, it should not be expected that they should pay for the deficit of an event from which they are not profiting. Just as they do not expect the vendors to pay them for all the lost revenues and rents caused by this economic shutdown,” reads the letter.
The decision to hold back $125 from each refund will net the DPA $13,750, they say. After a $10,000 Federal Loan Program forgivable portion of $10,000, that will still leave them with a $31,250 deficit.
“Our alternative was to also offer a rollover credit toward 2021 for those not happy with a partial refund. This again was met with some resistance as vendors felt that this should guarantee them a spot for next market (which it would) and with no increase in fees (which we couldn’t agree to) due to many anticipated, unforeseen expenses for future large outdoor events with over 5000 people in attendance,” the letter reads.
Cheques for the refund will be mailed out in the coming weeks. The Community Virtual Market, which was in its development stages, has been postponed.
“One thing this has taught all of us is that expectations need to be better defined going forward. As a result, vendors will also find that the application for participation in future markets will be far more extensive with clauses for force majeure, contingencies and much tighter rules concerning refunds,” the letter adds.
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