Shepherdstown’s Handmade Market avoided a roadblock earlier this month when members of the Shepherdstown Town Council voted to suspend a town ordinance that would leave the weekly bazaar in jeopardy.
The Handmade Market is a fundraiser for the Shepherdstown Community Club that features vendors and artisans selling jewelry, artwork and other goods made by hand.
The market, which began in April, faced possible shut down after attorneys for the Corporation of Shepherdstown sent a formal letter to organizers, with claims that the market violated town ordinance as related to “transient vendors.”
According to Kris McIntyre, one of the market’s organizers, the letter charged the group with violating Section 8-207 the town code, which prohibits “Hawking, Peddling and Street Vending.”
The ordinance reads: “The terms “hawking,” “peddling,” and “street vending” shall mean and include the engaging, conducting or operating of a temporary, transient or permanent business of selling goods, wares or merchandise for delivery at the time of sale, and which, for its business purpose, involves and includes the use, lease or occupation, either in while or in part, of a shed or sheds, open ground, streets, sidewalks, pavements, roads or highways, a room or rooms, a building or other structure or place for the exhibition and sale of such goods, wares, and merchandise.
“I think that would apply to every business in town,” McIntyre said during discussion at this month’s Town Council meeting.
Town Council members reviewed the enforcement of the ordinance as related to the Handmade Market.
After a discussion with the town’s legal counsel, council members voted to send the issue to a special subcommittee without disruption to the market’s regular activities.
“At this time, the town’s not going to take any action,” Mayor Jim Auxer said.
The subcommittee is to consist of council member Bane Schill and Mayor Auxer and will consider a possible amendment to the current ordinance, which many in the council considered inconsistent with modern definitions of transient businesses.
“It’s just something we can’t ignore,” said Mayor Auxer.
Shepherdstown Community Club president, Tom Huddleston said he was pleased with the town’s decision regarding the ordinance, calling it “vague” and “outdated.”
Huddleston said he was surprised by the initial “backlash,” against the market and said he thinks the community and market are now moving in a positive direction together.
“It’s all good for everybody,” he said.
McIntyre expressed relief over the council’s decision.
“It’s good news, I think,” she said.
“The town, I think, sees the value in the Handmade Market,” she said.
For now, the Hamdmade Market will go on as scheduled.