Liberty Street Market went wrong from beginning

Liberty Street Market went wrong from beginning
September 10
00:00 2015

Above photo: Liberty Street Market

In mid-October of last year, excitement was in the air. Liberty Street Market, 1591 N. Liberty St., opened to the public with a ribbon cutting and remarks from city and community leaders.

A dozen vendors were at the Liberty Street Market on opening day. Vendors offered an array of items, from fresh produce and baked sweets to African art and blue jeans.

Eleven months later, no vendors are there.

What happened to Liberty Street Market? It could be that the business venture was handled all wrong.

Liberty Street Market was among several concerns voiced at a barbershop community meeting that Council Member Derwin Montgomery held in the East Ward.

Several community members pointed to what they saw as the problem with the market. There is a fence around it. “They want to keep us out,” one person said. Others agreed. But wasn’t the Liberty Street Market there to help the residents of the area? Maybe not.

In the usual process of opening a business, a site is identified and a market feasibility study is done. The numerous businesses that have been announcing their intentions to open in the South and Southwest wards and in downtown recently no doubt can put their hands on the market feasibility studies for their businesses. The market feasibility study looks at the market for the goods and services the businesses are trying to sell to determine if there are enough people with money in the particular area who would be willing to buy from them. Is there a market feasibility study for the Liberty Street Market?

The Chronicle reported in October that Mayor Pro Tempore Vivian Burke held a copy of the Liberty Street Corridor feasibility study done in 1996 as she made her remarks at the Liberty Street Market ceremony. Burke, the longtime Northeast Ward City Council member, represents one part of Liberty Street; Montgomery represents the other.

1996 is almost 20 years ago. No successful business would open in the 21st century using a 20-year-old market feasibility study.

A current market feasibility study for Liberty Street Market should have told the city of Winston-Salem something about the people who live in the area and their willingness to support the market with their cash. Has anyone asked the residents what they wanted? Did anyone find out whether the community would financially support the market? Residents who spoke with Montgomery earlier this year said no one asked them if they wanted Liberty Street Market in their neighborhood. No one apparently did a current market feasibility study. Is this because mostly black people live in the area, so it doesn’t matter what they want; they’ll just have to take what the city gives them?

Liberty Street Market sits on a site that was dilapidated. It was an eyesore. It looks nice now, with two large covered shelters and with parking spaces for customers. Except there are no customers. There are no vendors. Only a reminder of what should have been: The city should have asked the residents if they wanted Liberty Street Market. All the savvy businesspeople ask before they build.

So now, the city is at a loss as to what to do with Liberty Street Market. Here’s an idea: Ask the residents what they want.

About Author

WS Chronicle

WS Chronicle

Related Articles


Featured Sponsor

Receive Chronicle Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



More Sponsors