Edgartown business mixed
The Edgartown board of trade members Tuesday recapped a summer of mixed business activity and successful programs, and focused on its next major event, a first-time harvest festival in October.
Some members reported profitable summer business, while several thought that July was softer than in previous years.
"The Hob Knob was up 10 percent from last year, real estate was up, and we had 125 high-end leases, which was incredible," board president Maggie White said in reference to her businesses, the Hob Knob Inn and Hob Knob Realty.
"We had the best August ever in the history of the gallery," said Christina Cook, owner of the Christina Gallery. Overall, she said the gallery's summer business was up 10 percent, but she added that September has been on the quiet side.
Others reported increased business overall, but Janet Bayley, general manager of Edgartown Commons, said she had talked to some merchants who agreed that July was not as busy as in
previous years. Although business was reported as good just before the 4th, there were a lot of vacancies in the inns during the rest of July, she said.
"What happened to the other three weeks after the 4th?" she asked. She blamed it part on July 4th being in mid-week.
Board vice president Janice Donaroma reported on a successful sand sculpture contest Aug. 1 at South Beach, which drew more than 100 participants. "Everything went really well," she said. "The kids love it and the adults do too."
John Coskie's report on the board's employee parking incentive program drew several comments on how it could be improved. The program encourages Edgartown employers and employees to park at the park and ride lot at the Edgartown Triangle, and take the shuttle bus during the summer months.
Mr. Coskie of the Bank of Martha's Vineyard said the number of participants was about the same as two years ago, and at the peak about a dozen businesses and 15 people participated. "I would like to have seen it have gone better," he said. He suggested the program be extended to visitors to town.
"Some employers were really behind it," Mr. Coskie said. "But some of the biggest employers didn't participate." He suggested adding an employer incentive to the program as well.
A known problem, he said, is signage for the lot. There is a large sign on Beach Road from Oak Bluffs, but the sign on the Vineyard Haven Road was lost and has not been replaced. The town and the Vineyard Transit Authority are responsible for the signs, he said. Mr. Coskie said the signs should have more details about the service, especially for visitors.
Patricia Wheeler, concierge at the Harbor View Hotel, said she believed a more attractive vehicle, such as a trolley, would draw more people to the park and ride service. She also said more information about the shuttle should be shared with the Jamaican community of employees.
Liz Cook of Christina Gallery asked, "Is there any way to decorate the bus?" referring to the well-marked sightseeing buses. She said designating one bus just for the park and ride also might have more appeal.
Ms. White reported that the Martha's Vineyard Annual Harvest Festival, subtitled A Celebration of Sea, Farm and Vine, is fully organized and ready to go for the weekend of Oct. 12-14. This is the first year for the nonprofit event, which will primarily benefit the Martha's Vineyard Museum. The event is promoting local farms and seafood as well as wineries from all over the world, and chefs from both on-Island and off.
The festival, to be held at various venues in Edgartown, will feature 10 food, wine, and oyster seminars all day Saturday conducted by chefs, wine makers, a wine writer, and a wine historian, and a food tasting stroll at the museum.
A ride on an oyster grower's boat will be the only free event, and most individual events will cost from $35 to $150. Two private dinners at $500 a person will be held at Edgartown waterfront homes on Saturday evening.
Ms. White said the board of trade has sold $10,000 worth of tickets, and expects to bring in $75,000 total. The event has received a lot of nationwide publicity, she said.
"Now we need to talk it up," Ms. White told the board. "We're hoping it's a very exciting even and that we can grow every year."
She also encouraged businesses that normally close on Columbus Day weekend, the week before the festival, to stay open for the festival. Detailed information about the festival and tickets is available on its web site, mvharvest.org.
The board also heard a presentation by members of the Edgartown Library Foundation on its current campaign to raise $8.3 million for the library expansion.