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October 01. 2013 9:51PM

Farmers market can’t plant signs on public land

SALEM — Selectmen have denied a request by Salem Farmers Market organizers to place signs on public rights-of-way, saying the market is a business enterprise not a nonprofit community event.

Farmers market organizer Jane Lang made the request after the town asked the market to stop putting up the signs on public rights-of-way two weeks ago.

Since that time, business at the weekly Sunday market at the Lake Street Garden Center has fallen significantly.

“I’ve had calls from people who have said to just put the signs up, but I want to do this the right way,” Lang said. “In the two weeks that the signs have been down, there has been a decline in attendance. People are driving around and thinking there might not be a market.”

Lang said it is important to have the signs up to let people know there is a market. Lang’s request was to put up six signs on the morning of the market with those signs being removed by the end of the day.

With the market having a very limited advertising budget, Lynn Bishop said the signs are the best and least expensive way to advertise.

“If the farmers market does not have the opportunity to use signs to attract business, it is not going to grow, and if it doesn’t grow, it could be done,” Bishop said.

Salem resident Eunice Miller has a small business that sells chocolate at the market, and she said she has seen her business decline in the past two weeks.

Everett McBride, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said organizers can still put up signs on private property. He said organizers could approach residents of high visibility areas and ask them if they could put signs on their property.

“You would probably have better coverage than you would with the rights-of-way,” McBride said.

Selectman Pat Hargreaves supported the farmers market request, stating that the organizers had established that the market was a benefit to the community.

Selectman Michael Lyons said he is willing to look at the sign issue in the future and possibly making it easier for nonprofits to put up signs for special events. But Lyons said he wasn’t sure how much help that would be to the farmers market, since it is a regular event with businesses that earn a profit.aswift@newstote.com


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