As we head into the climax of the "festival season" in downtown Warren, I have one question to ask. How does any festival organizer find the nerve to suggest what downtown business people can and cannot sell in their brick and mortar "24 / 7 /365 days-a-year" businesses?
This is exactly what has happened recently to a downtown business.
One organizer of an upcoming festival, after accepting a donation of a gift basket for this event, came back to this business to inquire as to if the proprietors were planning on selling soda during the event. He was told yes. A pained look fell across his face when he notified the business owner that the festival was selling soda at $2 a bottle and would "prefer" it if they did not compete.
Seems 50 cents for a can of soda is not allowed during this festival. He then made reference to some specific food items that are available at this business six days a week and informed the owner that the festival was hosting a vendor who would be selling that stuff and that, again, it would be preferred that there be no competition.
This is ridiculous on so many levels. The fact that this organization seems to engage in price fixing for this festival is the least of it.
How is it known that so many vendors will be selling bottles of soda at the same price? The more egregious crime is the unmitigated nerve that any festival organizer must have to think that any of us down here have to play ball with any price-fixing. No competition tactics is anger inducing.
You don't like that a full-time downtown business can sell soda, at a profit, and not take advantage of customers? Lower the fees that you charge your vendors and allow them to be more reasonable on their prices.
You don't like that the people who pay a donation to attend your festival might luck into a reasonably priced item of food? Move the festival off of Market and Park and into the amphitheater or park area.
They don't think they have the support of all of Warren for the event? Merge it with the similar ethnic celebration that is held in Youngstown, or move it to the mall area and leave us alone.
We are here full-time and suffer the lack of business every street closing brings us with a grimace. We tolerate it because nobody in Warren has the political will to upset these long-running apple carts. Do not take that as a signal that we are on board with helping festival organizers and vendors make a profit off of those who come down here for these events.
We have ourselves to worry about and sorry, but we come first to ourselves.