Thursday, April 19, 2001

Findlay Market shoppers make stand

Merchants leery of violence fallout

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        John Gaudio returned to a familiar spot Wednesday morning, working behind stacks of brightly colored produce at an outdoor stand in Findlay Market.

Patty Walpole of Walpole Meats and Jeff Gibbs of Gibbs' Cheese were back at work at Findlay Market Wednesday.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
| ZOOM |
        “What else can I get for you?” he asked a customer as he tossed a handful of white garlic cloves into a brown paper bag. “Have some oranges. The oranges are good.”

        For 53 years, Mr. Gaudio's family has operated a produce business in the historic Over-the-Rhine open-air market. He started working there when he was 8.

        But eight days after rioters trashed many of the stores surrounding the market and a citywide curfew shut the merchants down over the always-busy Easter weekend, Mr. Gaudio was particularly excited about returning to work.

        He's confident shoppers are as just as eager to return to the market.

        “Business is better than I thought it was going to be,” Mr. Gaudio said. “The customers will be back. It might take them a little while, but they'll be here. They always are.”

        Marco Brown is just as hopeful but not as optimistic.

        “We've seen business drop off 50 percent” since last week's riots, said Mr. Brown, 22, the manager of Mr. Pig BBQ, a restaurant known for the barbecued ribs prepared in large grills right on the sidewalk and just across Elder Street from Findlay Market.

        “It's been bad. It's affecting us. I hope it doesn't stay like this, but right now we just don't know if customers are going to come back to the area, especially if they don't think it's safe.”

        By mid-morning Wednesday a smattering of customers moved through the blocklong market, surveying and purchasing the meats, cheeses, sausages, seafood, breads and more piled behind long rows of glass cases.

        Merchants said sales were good but not great Wednesday morning. Many said Saturday — in the past the market's busiest day — will be a test.

        “This market has been through a lot over the years,” said Al Silverglade, 70, whose family has sold deli meats, cheese, bread and other foods since 1922 at Findlay Market.

        Pamela McKenna said the only thing that kept her away from the market last weekend was the fact it was closed.

        “I moved here 12 years ago ... and I've been down every Saturday since,” said Ms. McKenna, 34, a free-lance writer and marketing consultant from College Hill.

        Asked if she was apprehensive about coming to a neighborhood where violence broke out last week, Ms. McKenna responded with an emphatic “absolutely not.”

        “There is nothing to be afraid of,” Ms. McKenna said. “I love everything about this place. I can't imagine not coming down.”

        At a time when it is going through some uncertainty, Findlay Market has attracted some national attention through an article in the April issue of Better Homes and Gardens.

        “Findlay Market is one of the country's few remaining open-air markets that is still surrounded by the residential neighborhood it was built to serve,” the magazine says in an article titled “Fabulous Farmers Markets.”

        Jack Taylor, 54, said he came to Findlay Market on Wednesday partly to make a statement.

        “I knew because of what happened there might be some struggling here, so I wanted to come down and show some support,” said Mr. Taylor.


County, city offer relief to businesses
Tape: After chase, a 30-second silence
Thomas' mother shows strength in grief
- Findlay Market shoppers make stand
Poverty called first level of violence
State trooper also fired beanbag shotgun
Violence could spread elsewhere, Lawson warns
State agency to assess damage