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West Side Market vendors hopeful but hesitant about Bibb administration

West side market
Posted at 6:03 PM, Jan 07, 2022

CLEVELAND — Mayor Justin Bibb’s administration hit the ground running as they sat down with vendors at the West Side Market to talk about their concerns and hopes to bring solutions moving forward.

But vendors are a little hesitant, saying they’ll believe it when they see it.

West Side Market has been a Cleveland gem since 1912. Sadly, over time, the issues have piled up.

“I think the city has not given us the best shots,” said vendor Diane Dever.

Problems range from infrastructure to electrical security. Diane has worked at the market for more than 40 years, dealing with multiple administrations, but Bibb's administration has given her some hope.

“They really seem to get somebody that's qualified this time and that makes me hopeful,” said Dever.

She's not alone in that. Don Whitaker is the president of the West Side Market Vendors Association; he's been in that building since his teenage years.

“It was nice. It was nice to sit down with the mayor, you know, we haven't done that since I was a little younger, and it was Mayor White,” said Dever.

Bibb held a meeting with the vendors Thursday night to simply hear their concerns.

“Really, we're trying to get a good sense of what needs to happen first at the market to improve the quality for all of the vendors, all the customers and all the people who visit the market,” said Jessica Travisonno, the senior strategist for the West Side Market.

The next thing they’ve done is put Travisonno solely in charge of the market.

“So if people visit and see me here, I want them to talk to me. I want to shop with them,” said Travisonno.

Once everyone has been heard, plans will be made — one of which could include a management change.

“Best practices around the country are that most public markets are managed by an independent — the designated entity specifically for that market,” said Travisonno.

Funds allocated to fixing up the building is something the vendors would love, but they want to see actions more than words.

“We all know that it’s not going to happen overnight, but we really did stress that needs to happen before the year’s out because we feel that we're on our last limb, and it's not anything we've done,” said Dever.

Vendors just want to see their beloved market come alive once again.

“I just want to see these aisles filled with people, I want people to be happy with their food,” said Dever.

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