Sister Bay Invites Non-Food Vendors to Waterfront Park

The Sister Bay Parks, Property and Streets Committee is looking for people to set up shop in Waterfront Park this summer.

Last year when it received proposals from people interested in setting up face painting and Segway tour businesses in the park, the village parks committee members began discussing the possibility of allowing commercial vendors in village parks.

They decided to give it shot.

Village administrator Robert Kufrin sent out a request for “proposals from transient vendors that provide services or non-food products to tourists and visitors to the beach, park and marina boardwalk areas for the 2013 calendar year,” on Feb. 7.

The parks committee decided not to allow transient food vendors.

Dave Lienau, committee chairperson and village board member, said when allowing transient vendors by the beach was first introduced many were concerned that the village was soliciting food vendors specifically.

“It became very misunderstood about what we were trying to do,” Lienau said.

There are downtown businesses opening that plan to serve food to casual beach visitors, and owners wrote letters to the village about its transient vendor policy. They were concerned about competition with mobile vendors who don’t have to pay for a building.

“It would have been pretty remiss on [the parks committee’s part] to go ahead in the Request for Proposals allowing food after they heard from downtown businesses that it was going to affect them,” said village president Denise Bhirdo. “They made the smart move.”

Parks committee members want transient vendors to draw people downtown and keep them there to help existing businesses.

“We didn’t want to do anything that would compete with downtown businesses, we wanted to help them,” Lienau said.

Depending on how this summer goes, the village could change its policy to allow food-based businesses or no businesses at all.

“I think the real crux of it is going to be if somebody has some activities they can bring down there that can bring other people, or a niche that’s not currently addressed,” Bhirdo said. “I personally am not a fan of food or any kind of retail sales. If it’s activities, services, something like that – great.”

Transient vendor proposals are due March 29.