Sunday, December 02, 2007

Seven vendors brave weather

Only seven vendors braved the weather today at Head House Square: one baker, three produce sellers, a coffee seller, a confectioner and one other I can't recall. I was glad to see the baker, Versailles; they make the most authentic baguettes around, and their pastries ain't chopped liver, either. Market Manager Nicky Uy expects a more complete roster next Sunday and other Sundays through Dec. 23.

RTM's Paul Steinke believes the addition of the model train display in the terminal's headhouse, organized by the RTM, boosts overall traffic at the market itself.

Bill Kingsley, who was a leader in efforts to preserve the market in the 1980s when its existence was threatened by the then-proposed convention center died last week. Steinke said he was a regular visitor at the market until he took ill. Kingsley was 73.

To my mind, the building of the convention center has been a mixed blessing for the RTM. The push to build the center directly led to the availability of funds to rehabilitate the market (before the rebuilding water leaked from the trainshed above and puddled all over the market floor, among other significant structural problems), and the presence of conventineers has provided a good source of revenue for many of the merchants; at the same time, this has created pressure for more lunch stands and trinket-sellers rather than the market's traditional vendor base of butchers, bakers, fish mongers, cheese mongers and produce sellers and other fresh food purveyors. The convention center's impact on Center City, including the Reading Terminal Market, will be explored by reporter Tom Belden in an Inquirer article in the near future.

RTM Briefs

It's not exactly margarita weather, but this was the week to buy limes at Iovine Brothers Produce: 10 for a buck. Recently they've been three for a buck . . . . I'm still waiting for the expanded variety of seafood to start showing up for the holiday among the fish mongers . . . . Stephen Starr stopped by Hershel's and proclaimed the corned beef sandwich the best he's ever had. He instructed five of his chefs to stop there to learn how to make a proper sandwich. (If they add it to the menu at Jones, it might hurt Kibbitz across the street.) . . . . Hershel's expects to start carrying Gus's pickles and kraut this week or next . . . . Amy's is open at the new location, and nearly half a dozen stalls have replaced it and other relocated vendor to form a holiday market selling gift item through the holidays. They include
The Clay Place (pottery), Desert Designs (Egyptian imports), Contessa's French Linens, Jootz (glass giftware and pet beds), Nimba Traders (decor items from Indonesia and Thailand), and Siberia Creations (birch bark boxes, etc.) . . . . Charles Giunta of Giunta's Prime Shop is complaining that he's having difficulty selling veal because not enough people are willing to pay the price he needs to carry it . . . . DiNic's probably will extend its hours to 6 p.m. weekdays this week . . . . Hendricks Farm and Griggstown Quail Farm didn't make it to Headhouse Square this week, but you can find their cheese and pot pies, respectively, at the Fair Food Farmstand, which is open every day but Monday at the RTM . . . .

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