Vendors lose money, product as West Side Market goes without power for 11 hours

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CLEVELAND (WJW)– One of Cleveland’s iconic landmarks was in the dark for hours Saturday. 

The trouble started early Saturday morning at the West Side Market on West 25th Street in Cleveland.

“It is one of the best public markets in the world and it’s really, it is an honor to vend there. It’s just lately it’s been a whole of um, a whole lot of trouble,” said Tom McIntyre, the owner of Kate’s Fish. “The power went out at 1:30 this morning. Nobody, including the president of our tenant’s association, was notified until, you know, people arrived for their shift to open the shops.”

“They came by told us that it shouldn’t be too much longer. It kicked back on probably around 7:30,” said Tara Hunter, sales associate at Dionne’s Poultry.

But it didn’t last long. Vendors said the power flickered on and off a few more times as businesses scrambled to salvage their perishable products.

“Some people had to carry product downstairs to the basement to make sure what could be saved, can be saved,” Hunter said.

She said in those dark hours, cash was king at Dionne’s, which has been at the market for more than two decades. 

“Saturday’s certainly the busiest day of the week. Lot of money on the table, a lot of revenue lost. We will lose product from this, certainly,” Hunter said.

McIntyre said they were concerned about the reliability of the power and closed up. But not everyone chose to shut down. 

(FOX 8 photo)

“Honestly we’re all still recovering from this pandemic. We’re trying to just get back on our feet,” Hunter said.

The power finally came back on around noon, 11 hours later. McIntyre said there is a generator, “But refrigeration, the glycol system that keeps all of our cases cold and the coolers downstairs are not connected to this generator.”

McIntyre said there are also problems with the infrastructure, plumbing and overall maintenance of the building, which is owned by the city of Cleveland.

“But now, with a lame-duck mayor and the entire power structure of public works that runs the market on their way out… We have no prospect of like things getting fixed in a timely matter now.”

Several mayoral candidates seized on the moment to make campaign promises.

Cleveland Council President Kevin Kelley tweeted, in part, “Every customer of Cleveland Public Power should expect reliable service. The new path to CPP starts on day one”

Former U.S. Rep. and one-time Cleveland mayor Dennis Kucinich also wrote on Twitter, “When I am mayor the West Side Market will have a backup generator.”

And nonprofit leader Justin Bibb released a video statement saying, in part, “When I am mayor, this will be an immediate priority to ensure that our residents and vendors get the management and leadership they deserve.”

Former Cleveland Councilman Zack Reed also wrote on Facebook in part: “As mayor I am going to put my energy and the proper attention into restoring the West Side Market to its original prominence.”

But the vendors said they need action now.

“Just make sure like our stuff’s working. That’s all we’re asking for,” Hunter said. McIntyre ultimately said they need a generator for their refrigerated cases and think the city should no longer run the market.

We did reach out to the city for comment or a statement, but have not heard back.

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