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Changes Upset Market's Vendors

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She's particularly concerned about the indemnity clause, which she says is murky. It's supposed to simply make vendors responsible for their own actions, but Sanders worries that the language in the clause could be interpreted loosely.

"In other words, it basically takes all the risk off the Farmers' Market and the city of Richmond," Sanders says. "If something happens, they [the vendors] could lose their house or whatever possessions they have if they try to sue them."

It's particularly worrisome, Sanders says, considering the market has partnered with Polka Dots Arts, a children's arts group, which conducts children's events at the market from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursdays and Saturdays.

"We're not against children being at the market, but in some cases they are taking over," Sanders says. "The vendors there have to constantly watch to make sure the kids aren't getting into any kind of trouble."

Eleanor Rouse, manager of the market, says the changes are simply intended to create more of a family atmosphere at the market. As for the indemnity clause, she says the economic development office determined it needed a standard waiver to insure that the city doesn't get sued for the actions of vendors. Most of those who vend at the market, she says, are happy with the changes.

"We've gotten a wonderful response," she says of the changes, which are intended to help the market cater to families and make it more accessible. "Its intent is to make this more of a public market."

The changes, however, have forced a few vendors to stop coming, like Anita Wolff.

"Last year I could park right at my vending [table]," says Wolff, who sells "custom hand-etched" glassware and is disabled. "I walk with a cane, I have a limited range of motion. They are expecting me to unload my wares and leave them sitting there unless I have someone who can watch it for me."— Scott Bass



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