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."