When the Annapolis Market House re-opened for the most recent time this past September, the looming question in everyone’s mind was “can it survive?” The building sat vacant for so many years and went through so many failed renovations in 12 years and two Mayors, it was a reasonable question.
The mix of merchants in the Market House seemed to be really good. They had a bit of everything for everyone–or so we thought. But a visit today shows a completely different story.
The new Market House opened to much fanfare. There were Friday night concerts on the square. The Mayor walked the plank. People were excited. But fall came around and the outdoor concerts came to an end, stories of poor service began to emerge, and the Market House began to empty out again.
This afternoon is a good example. At 12:22pm, the Market House was empty. Firenze’s Gelateria and Cafe appears to have closed. Yet a few hundred feet up Main Street, Jimmy John’s was buzzing with people. In fact, Jimmy John’s got some of my business this fall when a Market House employee was more concerned with a conversation with a co-worker than ringing up my sale. I waited for 8 minutes and the family of four in front of me waited longer before we all left–leaving the pay-by-the-pound food on the scales.
The hot dog special for $2.75 is a bargain–a dog, bag of chips and a soda. But you can only eat so many hot dogs.
The big question in many peoples’ minds was “will the locals support it?” It appears that perhaps they are not. October saw the Boat Shows, November was relatively mild in terms of temperature, December saw the Annapolis Business Association events for Midnight Madness, but here we are in the doldrums of winter with nary a customer in sight.
When the tourists return, will they be enough to support the merchants in the Market House? I certainly hope so.