Erin Finley, owner of and president of the , said she plans to file a lawsuit against the over a new chamber policy that restricts Main Street businesses from participating in the popular .
Finley, who said she submitted paperwork to the chamber to sell biscotti at the market at a shared booth with another vendor this season, said she learned on Monday that she is no longer permitted to sell at the market because she owns a business on Main Street.
"I am outraged not only as a store owner, but as the president of WHAM as well," Finley said. "Why would an organization which has a sole purpose of promoting business hinder it?"
Finley said she believes the decision was made as a direct attack against WHAM.
"I think this was a personal decision. I think [the chamber] is angry that WHAM exists. The chamber is so disconnected with the businesses on Main Street."
Chamber President Dwane Wagner, however, said the policy was adopted by the chamber board two months ago to set rules for the market, which he said has grown far larger than the chamber had ever anticipated with 43 vendors and a waiting list.
Wagner said the chamber board thought it made sense to take a look at the policy to make sure that the market maintains a proper mix of vendors to attract customers.
"The main purpose of the market is to enhance business for all the merchants of the village by drawing new people into the village by providing unique products just steps from Main Street," said Wagner, adding that most visitors to the farmers market don't go home after shopping. Instead, he said they wind up taking a walk down Main Street.
Finley disagreed and said, "Don't get me wrong, I love the farmers market as a customer, but it does nothing for Main Street. Not a single person comes down from the farmers market."
She also argued some vendors at the farmers market are in direct competition with Main Street businesses.
Wagner said that only one Main Street business has ever applied to take part in the market. Though he did not name Sydney's, Finley confirmed that she formally applied and was accepted as of last month.
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