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West Side Market vendors hopeful after Cleveland's mayoral election

West Side Market
Posted at 4:21 PM, Nov 03, 2021

CLEVELAND — For years, vendors at the West Side Market have been voicing their frustrations with everything from failing infrastructure to new parking fees, but now with the election of a new mayor some of the vendors have hope.

"We've dealt with the previous administration for 16 years and all that," D.W. Whitaker Meats owner Don Whitaker said.

Cleveland's new mayor-elect, Justin Bibb, is aware of those issues.

"Justin's been here for months campaigning and we were one of his first campaign stops," Whitaker said.

Whitaker said he personally took Bibb on a tour of the market and filled him in on all the ongoing issues over the years.

"He understands the needs of the market and I'm looking forward to - we have hope right now," Whitaker said.

From the customer's perspective, the market is iconic and has even been nominated for the best public market in the country, but vendors said that beauty is only skin deep.

"I just want to see some improvements to the infrastructure, especially in the basement I mean, there's potholes there that I can't get the city to fix," said Wiencek's Meats owner Alex Malex.

Underneath the market is a basement plagued with problems.

"The fancy new stands, that looks good. That sells things. But, the plumbing is 108 years old, the electrical is 108 years old," Whitaker said.

Whitaker said at times, those issues are costing businesses money.

"I'll fix my stand myself, I'm in business, I'll take care of that. But I can't touch the plumbing here and stuff like that," Whitaker said. "So when I lose a day of business because there's a plumbing problem, refrigeration or electrical you know, it's upsetting."

Vendors said they're not asking for much from Bibb.

"We just need some quality of life for like, the vendors here," Malec said. "We're just asking for like, the bare minimum, that's all we want you know?"

Vendors said they would like for the city to give up ownership.

"They can't keep it in this box of the bureaucracy of the city, they just gotta get it out and let it run itself, you know," Whitaker said.

Whitaker said he's connected Bibb with the Cleveland Metroparks, in hopes that they will take over ownership of the market.

RELATED: West Side Market vendors frustrated about parking fees