For the entire month of December the Glendale Star has been running a series of stories by Darrell Jackson (go to ) regarding the vendors used at Glendale’s four premier events that occur from the end of November until early February. These four events are Glendale Glitters opening weekend, Glendale Glitters weekends in December, the Glitter and Glow Block Party ending event and the Chocolate Affaire.

The issue is does Glendale really put local Glendale businesses first when accepting vendor applications for these events? It is a question that has been raised by local vendors for several years, whose applications appear to be routinely rejected but it only boiled to the surface when the Glendale Chamber of Commerce CEO Robert Heidt became the local vendors’ champion.

Let’s look at some statistics. “Over the past three years (2012, 2013 and 2014), the city has received 1,204 applications to be a vendor at one of the four major events (cited above). Of those, the city has approved 739 with only 15.29% (113) coming from Glendale businesses and 84.71% (626) coming from other businesses.” (Glendale Star, December 15, 2016).

“When it comes to local food merchants, the city has received 213 total applications for the current season with 92 (43.19%) being approved over that time. Of the 92 approved food vendors, 13 (14.13%) have been from Glendale while 79 (85.86%) have been from non-Glendale food vendors. The 2017 Chocolate Affaire has no local businesses approved, with 11 local businesses denied, while 19 businesses were approved to participate.” (Glendale Star, December 15, 2016).

Kim Larson, Glendale Public Facilities, Recreation and Special Events spokesperson, has said, “As long as they meet the minimum requirements, absolutely, we give them a priority. According to city documents, the minimum requirements are, ‘a menu with pricing, photos of products and booth set up, and a $25 (non-refundable) application fee.’ The application asks vendors if they would like a 10X10 prime booth for an additional $150, or a 10X20 prime spot for an additional $200. Each approved vendor is provided with a two-plug, 20 AMP outlet but they can request additional power for an additional $25 to $100.” (Glendale Star, December 8, 2016).

After the application process closes a jury of staff reviews the applications and makes the final selection of vendors.  “The jury for the current season consisted of three members of city staff – Simms, Heidi Barriga (Special Events) and Cameron Dewaele (Parks and Recreation.” (Glendale Star, December 29, 2016). “Once a vendor is approved, they then pay $65 for a background check.” (Glendale Star, December 8, 2016).

“All food vendors are required to purchase any bottled beverages (water, soda and ice) from Kalil Bottling –an official city sponsor – at $15 per case and must sell them for $2 apiece. Vendors who participate are required to pay 20% of their gross income to the city, which helps offset the cost of events. Larson said the city estimates the revenue to be approximately $250,000 from vendors.” (Glendale Star, December 8, 2016).

“…two vendors who have been approved numerous times and are part of the current events, reported to the Glendale Star that they have never been billed by the city and have never written a tax check to the city.” (Glendale Star, December 22, 2016). Vickie Rios, Glendale’s Finance Director, could not confirm this assertion but indicated that if it had happened in the past, it would not occur in the future.

As you can see, it can be quite pricey to become a vendor at a Glendale event. Having participated as a potter in many regional events for over 20 years (I no longer produce handcrafted pottery) the costs to vendors are not unreasonable. There is always overhead and there is a cost for everyone to do business whether you are in a shop or participate in outdoor events. If a vendor cannot make enough revenue to cover the costs of operation plus a profit, then that vendor should rethink its operation.

One of the essential concerns surrounding this issue rests upon the mission of Glendale’s special events. “(Kim) Larson said, ‘As the mission of Glendale’s special events is to promote and brand downtown Glendale as a destination to attract new visitors and shoppers, and foster community pride among residents, the Special Events Division does its absolute best to maximize revenue to offset our productions costs so we can continue to provide free admission to our community festivals.’” (Glendale Star, December 8, 2016). This mission statement is schizophrenic, to say the very least. The goal of cost recovery and the goal of promoting downtown Glendale are not usually compatible. So, the very first question to ask is a policy question for the Glendale city council. Should the city policy be to promote downtown Glendale (at a cost to taxpayers) or to continue to implement the goal of cost recovery?

Another question about policy comes from comments made by Erik Strunk, Glendale’s new Public Facilities, Recreation and Special Events Director, “Strunk said the city advertises the vendor application process online (via various media forms). Additionally, we have developed a master list of anyone who has applied in the past few years…This list is used each year to send a mass e-mail…and encourage interested vendors to apply.” (Glendale Star, December 22, 2016). This process seems to hint at a policy of returning to the same well, year after year, by alerting previous participants to apply. Again, another policy question for city council is evident. Will it be policy to make a concerted effort to educate and attract more local vendors or will the city rely upon past vendors, who seemingly up to this point, have been used repeatedly because the city’s past experience with them affords a level of comfort?

In Part II of Glendale First? we will look at the policies, past practices, plans, politics and the players.

© Joyce Clark, 2017        


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