CLEVELAND — For the West Side Market, 2022 ended with lots of surveys, research, and analysis. It's all part of the 10-month plan to transition the iconic facility to nonprofit management, and we're told that phase is now about one-third of the way complete.
So what can we expect in the new year? In talking with spokesperson Jessica Trivisonno, in her office high above the Market's vendors, she explained where all that data goes now.
"We'll have a written report that's going to be coming out to summarize all that research," Trivisonno said. "All of that will be the foundation for the next phase of the master planning process, which will focus on the programmatic and physical experience and elements of the market."
The research she is referring to includes customer and vendor surveys done by the Market's advisory board and their national market consultant Ted Spitzer a few month ago. Interviews were conducted with all of the market's vendors, and nearly 450 customer surveys also took place over a three-day period.
In the coming months, the advisory board will begin to focus on the desires of vendors and shoppers alike. Some of those interesting points include what the average shoppers spend at the Market, which is $61.
The board wants to capitalize on that average, which is more than other markets across the country. Plus, there remains a demand to modernize the Market in some ways, such as offering more prepared foods while retaining the elements that make the Market special and unique.
"That's what's exciting about this next phase is figuring out, 'How do we keep all the elements that make West Side Market traditional and authentic in such a unique Cleveland experience?'" Trivisonno told us, "while still adding in all those other modern elements that we know [are] going to support the Market for the next 10,000 years."
Even sooner, the Market will announce a leadership board of 15 people to run the nonprofit, known as the "Cleveland Public Market Corporation." Three of those members will be selected by tenants, to reflect their wishes.
"We would love to have board members who have experience running small businesses, who have experience with food stamps, who have backgrounds in education and food access," Trivisonno explained.
Candidates can be local, or even national, she went on to say.
"The way we're selecting board members is working really closely with our advisory committee," she added. "I anticipate there will be a good amount of overlap with the people on the advisory committee [regarding] who will be on the board. The initial board will be vetted through the advisory committee and then ultimately approved by city council and the mayor."
Initial board members who are selected in February will be tasked with selecting an executive director in a national search. That person will lead the whole endeavor that hopefully will propel the market to new heights.
"My hope is that we'll be able to have raised some decent money, to really invest in the building, and make all of these different things that we know need to happen with the building come true and really start doing right by West Side Market," Trivisonno said.
The advisory board will meet the first week of February to discuss these next steps.