Fenton Street Market will return next month to Veterans Plaza in Silver Spring after the county rewarded the popular weekly crafts market with a three-year lease, organizers announced Friday.
The market’s future was in jeopardy last fall, when the county Office of Community Use of Public Facilities released a Request for Proposal that market founder Hannah McCann feared would impose too many requirements. Because of community support and the efforts of market manager Megan Moriarty, who took over from McCann as majority shareholder of the business last year, Fenton Street Market was able to secure a contract to operate on Saturdays this spring and summer, starting on April 28.
“The community support, to me personally, was very moving and really inspired me to keep going throughout this long process,” Moriarty said.
Nearly 2,000 supporters signed a petition to save the market from cost increases that would come with the added requirements, Moriarty said. Organizers decided to go through with the contracting process anyway and will have to pay a security guard, vendors to meet county wage requirements and for trash cleanup. Moriarty said the market is still negotiating the use of food vendors with the county Department of General Services. She said the market won’t have to keep paying an hourly rate for use of the space.
The market, which began at its Fenton Village location in 2009 before moving to Veterans Plaza last year, drew about 2,500 visitors per week and brought in $1.4 million in annual sales to antique, crafts and fine art vendors, McCann said last year.
“I’m just thrilled that it’s going to be back and that it will continue to grow as part of the fabric of our community,” McCann said. “I’m grateful to all of the neighborhood groups for recognizing that this is an important part of balancing commercial development. It convinced me this market was really important to the community.”
Reemberto Rodriguez, director of the Silver Spring Regional Services Center, said the Request for Proposal was a necessary procedure to formalize the use of Silver Spring’s most popular public area in the middle of Downtown. Veterans Plaza is also the site of live music and an ice skating rink during the winter. The FRESHFARM’s Farmer’s Market takes place on Saturdays on Ellsworth Drive, across Fenton Street from the plaza.
“It’s really wonderful that the Fenton Street Market will be back,” Rodriguez said. “Much of what the market experimented with a year ago was sort of reaffirmed in the way the county structured the process of the [Request for Proposal].”