Graphic by Janelle the Artist
Graphic by Janelle the Artist

Pop Up's Pop Off; Vendors Against McAllen Crackdown on Markets

Words by By Josue Ramirez

Pop Up Markets hosted in the parking lots of small businesses across the RGV are a common sight when driving around or running errands. The colorful tents and increased foot traffic are enticing enough to stop for a short stroll and some goodies despite the hot Valley weather. Open air markets gained popularity in the last two years because of the COVID-19 restrictions placed on indoors spaces. They became a lifeline for many but now the City of McAllen is cracking down on these temporary events citing City ordinances against selling outdoors and residential complaints. 

During the June 27th McAllen City Council Workshop a presentation accompanied by a PowerPoint summarized the municipal concerns with Pop Up Markets (PUMs). According to the presentation city staff, “Found an ordinance that doesn’t allow for outdoor sales of merchandise.” Despite not citing the specific ordinance the presentation states that staff, “would like to amend the exceptions and allow certain restrictions on PUMs.”

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The staff suggestions were to:

  • “limit the PUM’s to no more than four times times per year per address”
  • “Require a $100 permit fee”

Additional suggested requirements on PUM’s are:

  • ”cannot use existing parking for vendor space”
  • ”if in a plaza must have consent of 75% of owners or tenants”
  • ”if patrons block residential driveways it can be grounds for denial of future permits”

 

Local vendors and individuals whose main source of income depends on these events are some of the most worried about increased policing and limitations. They are raising their concerns on how the sudden shift in enforcement by the City will impact them, the creative community and fledgeling small businesses.

 

Lucia Rosales owner of Athena’s Shop began raising concerns on social media. After seeing Rosales’s Instagram stories Janelle (@janelletheartist)  owner of Janelle the Artist LLC ‘ started to sound the alarm on with images of the agenda and presentation along with the quote, “All I can say is… f*** the government…smh.” This alerted other local vendors who quickly expressed their worries about the suggested changes. 

 

Some vendors cite these events as large contributors to their financial well being as well as that of brick and mortar plazas and small businesses that host them. Some see the fee as excessive while others think the limitations on the amount of times they can host events is too restrictive.

Comments from Janelle the Artist's Instagram
Comments from Janelle the Artist's Instagram

Janelle and other local artisans and entrepreneurs are organizing to make their voice heard at the July 11th McAllen City Commission Workshop where the item will be discussed. Anybody interested in supporting them can view the call to action below. 

It would be useful to know more about the economic impact that these types of events have locally. Better public policies come from understanding a communities needs and listening to many perspectives. The City of McAllen should invest in supporting small businesses by understanding the draw and popularity of these Pop Up Markets and their benefits, not just the complaints from some members of the community.

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