market house

A view of the Columbia Market House on South Third Street in the borough.

In an effort to attract more patrons, the Columbia Market House began opening its doors on Sundays and offering live music late last year.

Since November, it has been open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays, as well as 4 to 8 p.m. on Fridays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays.

"I think we would all agree it has been (a success)," interim manager Teresa Allen said. " She added that Friday hours are picking up because no other market offers evening hours on that day.

Currently, 32 vendors are signed on. While that is capacity, the Historic Market House Trust, which oversees the market, is still looking for new vendors since all are not in operation each market day.

The market features a mixture of food items and crafts. Visitors can find soups, pretzels and barbecue. Other stands offer jewelry, candles and gift items. There are no produce stands, but one vendor is planning to bring fresh strawberries when they are available and possibly fresh organic produce.

Ron Worby and his wife, Sue, have operated Susquehanna Blue Smoke Barbeque since June 2014.

“Market days all vary, depending on weather, events going and time of month,” Ron Worby said. “Sundays do very well, some weeks Saturdays are better sales and Fridays are coming around since having new hours.”

The market, at 15 S. Third St., has had its share of growing pains over the past several years, leaving many borough residents divided about its direction. Logo design, types of seating and whether the market should be green or mixed use were topics of contention at public meetings.

Built in 1869, the market lacks proper infrastructure to support some modern-day vendors. For example, air conditioning, necessary for some food items, is unavailable.

Bistro-style tables, located throughout the building, were added in 2014 to provide seating for dining and events.

Beth Troxell resigned earlier this month as market manager. For the past several months, Troxell had led the push for live music and expanded hours. Her resignation was announced at a public meeting on March 15, less than a year after she accepted the position. Troxell, the latest of several managers to leave in recent years, declined comment.

Bill Collister, a Market Trust director, said Troxell's resignation would not affect the operation of the market. He said that all hours will remain the same and live music will continue.

The trust appointed Allen as interim manager to handle day-to-day operations.

Allen is a former standholder at the market and is affiliated with the Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce. Beginning in 2014, she served three seasons as the winter shelter coordinator and is the Fourth Friday coordinator. The board will vote on Allen's permanent placement at its April 13 meeting.

In 2012, Columbia Borough created and turned over market operations to a trust. The Historic Market House Trust, comprised of a five- to seven- member board, was given a three-year contract, which was set to expire at the end of 2015. On Aug. 24 last year, however, borough council voted to extend its contract with the trust by one year, to the end of this year. The trust currently is seeking a grant to update infrastructure.

One long-time standholder confidently said, "It's business as usual."

And so it was. On a recent weekend, the doors were open, and the musicians were playing.