Leah Beltzer, owner of Finer Consignments on 1461 Roswell Road near Interstate 75, asked the City Council Aug. 14 to make an exception on temporary business regulations so an artisan and collectors fair could drive more customers into her store.
Beltzer told the council she had 100 percent of the businesses in the plaza, as well as property owner Malon Mimms, agreeing to have Cobb County residents sell homemade crafts in the parking lot the second Saturday and Sunday of every month.
The city regulations state that temporary vendors must obtain a business license, which requires a background check and $144 fee, in order to operate a maximum of 45 days on private property and at least 1,000 feet from another vendor. These types of licenses are typical for Christmas tree vendors and fireworks tent sales.
- ‘Better than a ghost town’?
At the Aug. 28 meeting, the City Council discussed the issue, deciding that a group of vendors operating on a continual basis outside would be against the code and would require a city-wide ordinance change.
“It would open a door to where we would have temporary merchants all over town,” Mayor Steve Tumlin said.
Tumlin said it hurts “brick and mortar” businesses when short-term vendors sell items similar to a store located nearby.
Beltzer said a row full of temporary outdoor merchants is “better than a ghost town.”
The City Council will review the issue tonight, only to adjust temporary business permits from a maximum of 45 days to 30 days. The limit will now match a city ordinance that specified 30 days.
- Brick and mortar vs. tent sales
Before being told the shop did not comply with city regulations, Beltzer said she hired someone to manage the market, lined up 28 vendors and placed an advertisement in the MDJ.
Beltzer said the city makes exceptions for outside sales around the Marietta Square.
“City-sanctioned events,” like the Farmers Market every weekend and the Art Walk on the first Friday of each month from April to October, are approved by the City Council or an agency with the city.
Because of this distinction, Tumlin said the Square markets are organized by city staff, including security and cleanup.
“It is more like an event than primarily a retail venture,” Tumlin said.
Beltzer said the event atmosphere is the exact draw needed for the “dead plaza” where her store is located, and might even attract another retailer to move into the shopping center.
The London Square plaza is home to the Mountains of Praise GOD’s Church, a natural foods grocery store, Roccos Pub, a dry cleaners, and Wigs by G’s.
Beltzer said when Frederick J. Hanna & Associates, the Marietta law firm that focuses on debt collection, moved out of a 40,000-square-foot space six months ago, the loss of the company’s 200 office workers was crippling.
Beltzer, who lives in east Cobb, has operated her 5,000-square-foot shop selling furniture and home furnishings, as well as used, vintage and name-brand clothing for five years.
Her lease expired this month and Beltzer said she has been approached twice to move into another plaza in east Cobb.
Tumlin said the artisan market was not a bad idea, but the concept could not be allowed throughout Marietta.
“She has a good merchant’s heart and entrepreneurial spirit,” Tumlin said.