ABA Fuming Over Crafters' Use of Market House for Midnight Madness

The Annapolis Business Association says the move goes against the mission of encouraging customers to patronize downtown businesses.

The Annapolis Business Association (ABA) is crying foul over the city's decision to allow a nonprofit to sell crafts inside the Market House during Thursday's Midnight Madness event.

"The whole intent of Midnight Madness is to fill the stores of our merchants," ABA President Sean O'Neill said. "By doing this, the city has completely missed the mission of Midnight Madness."

Stepping Out for Breast Cancer, an Annapolis-based nonprofit, has sold crafts during Midnight Madness inside Maryland State Education Association building at 140 Main St. for years, City Manager Mike Mallinoff said. This year, the group can't use that space for their fundraiser so they called the city looking for help.

"We’re just opening it up and allowing them to use it," Mallinoff said. "Sean could have [used it] as well if he had asked."

O'Neill said the city never told him the Market House was available, and no one told the ABA, which organizes Midnight Madness, that the space was going to be used by the nonprofit.

He found out through a craft vendor who called him on Monday looking for table space.

"The City Council didn’t vote on a lease like they are supposed to because it’s public property," O'Neill said. "The people that are doing it never came to us. We’re the organizers of this event."

He said the nonprofit selling at the teachers' association was different because that is private property.

"We could have made better use of that space," O'Neill said. "We would have put in people to wrap presents. We would have put in Santa. We would have put in carolers rather than putting in that craft fair that is competing with our members."

Mallinoff said the decision to allow the breast cancer charity to use the space was made last week. The city didn't issue a lease because they aren't charging the nonprofit for use of the space.

"We thought it was a worthy nonprofit, and that was the decision we made," Mallinoff said.

Stepping Out for Breast Cancer has not yet responded to Patch's request for comment. The charity has been around since 1993 and purchases wigs, prosthetics and other medical items for breast cancer survivors.

O'Neill said that the worthiness of the organization running the craft show is not the point.

"It’s not a cheap event to pull of," he said. "We've spent thousands of dollars in advertising, and they are just riding our coattails on the sly. The dysfunction in City Hall, this is the epitome of it."

Jenny Seth December 06, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Edward-totally agree...we can use more Need-Based businesses in downtown! There is a pretty cool looking bakery opening in Eastport called Bakers and? (bakers and co. maybe?)...It's not open yet, but looks like it could be great for D-towners. Also! Great Harvest is pretty close. Love that place. We could use more like those. Not since Rookies Meat Market has there been a place in walking distance for daily needs-...maybe a good option for someone looking for a biz.venture! If the residents will give them enough business-It's disheartening that Stevens is leaving due to lack of business. Support Local...even if we have to pay a tad more. It'll keep places like Stevens around and attract independent deli's and more...But...that all being said, when looking for gifts for x-mas downtown has lots of really nice shops. Some look (and are) upscale-but are still as reasonable as any "mall" store. Any many of the owners are working tonight with smiles. Happy Holidays :-)
Mike December 06, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Some folks have gotten this right, but many do not. It is entirely possible for the charity to be worthwhile and yet: for the legally-prescribed process to decide to have been trampled by the city (an issue regardless of the worth of the charity) OR for the legally-prescribed process to have been followed to the letter, but for that process to be hopelessly flawed and unaccountable to the taxpayer (also a problem regardless of the charity). When the city's representative says: "We thought it was a worthy nonprofit, and that was the decision we made" as Mallinoff did, EVERYONE should be concerned that the city government is doing whatever it wants, willy-nilly, with OUR property. Which has nothing to do with the particular charity in question. What costs were incurred to make the decision, to open the building, to provide the added security, to close the building, to pay for the lighting, etc? What damages were done? What liability did we risk had someone gotten injured? Etc, etc. That Market House is OURS. Suppose Malinoff wanted to let a buddy live there for a week. Sounds like he'd do it if he thought he could get away with it. Does anyone honestly think the city government cares a lick what we, the residents, think about any issue so long as they feel comfortable that they can stay in power?
Safety first December 06, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Sean. Yes that is very true. I did say that and it was over 2 years ago. That was about the country store on MD ave. I have not shopped downtown one time since then. I just think it's great that you thought so much of my post you researched so far back. Thank you. Grammar mistakes? Is that it? Wow! You got me on that one. The point stands. Downtown offers nothing more then T-shirts and bars. Chris. The city is run by fools. We all agree on that. But complaining that a non-profit that is trying to help others is getting a free spot in a vacant building do's not look good for the ABA. As for the link you provided. I read the article and have one thing to say to the author of that article. It is not my responsibility as a shopper to buy just to make sure a business survives. It is up to the business to offer goods and services that would bring me and my wallet to there establishment.
Heywood December 07, 2012 at 01:18 AM
I'm pretty sure there's a special place in hell for people who talk about breast cancer survivors "riding their coattails" and "taking away their business." What a load of pathetic, small town nonsense.
Karen Essen December 07, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Agreed, Mike, and that goes to my earlier question about how do we end up with characters like this in our local government in the first place. I mean, Josh Cohen wasn't even elected mayor, he was given the job after the actual winner was discovered to be a habitual thief! And there wasn't even a "Hmm, that's odd..." response from us, we just accepted it as business as usual. Just like we do the Market House, we accept it as no business as usual. I'm beginning to believe that since we have such low expectations for these local officials, we let their ineptitude go...


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