There are three kinds of monies in Penticton:
There is recirculated money which is the base of most business in town. It comes from the people that work or live here and spend their money where they work and live.
Then there is the influx of new money. This comes from businesses that depend on out-of-trading area markets to buy their product. They introduce new money to our town when they use that money to provide services and labour for that business plus their living costs. This valuable new money is also brought to town by federal and provincial government jobs and retirees that move here.
The third kind of money siphons cash out of our town and takes it to other areas where it provides new money to operate out-of-town operations and living costs wherever they come from.
The issue of the farmers’ markets has come to a head because apparently they have shut out many local farmers whilst giving preference to out-of-town producers.
While it is true, as Julius Bloomfield says, the markets bring about 5,000 people downtown, can this same affect not be produced by local farmers? One has to consider that the cash the farmers make at the present farmers’ market leaves town with them and probably affects the hiring of local people in our local area markets which has a cascading effect on our economy.
Yet the prices farmers charge are as much or more than what can be had locally, and from my own experience, too often no fresher in appearance or taste, plus they operate without the overhead of a retail operation which should be taken into account by city council.
Council should also differentiate from the Penticton Downtown Association markets which use many local producers and businesses in their adjacent market and we increasingly see more local farm producers in this market as well as local artisans.
There should be a difference in business licensing costs between the two markets and it should be varied on what percentage of the market is based on local producers.
This could be done each fall based on last year’s stats which would show where the majority of vendors come from.
Times are tough. Local producers are struggling. Whether it is a local lady selling handicrafts or a local business or farming producers, they should be given first dibs and discounted rates at our open air markets. And it should also be reflected in the licensing costs.
After all, what is the alternative? In business you compete or get out of town.