WARWICK, RI – Warwick will run a “2020 Autumn Outside Marketplace” Saturdays Oct. 10 through Dec 12. at Pawtuxet Park using a state “Take It Outside grant, Mayor Joseph J. Solomon announced.
The Outside Marketplace will be open from 9:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. every Saturday at the park, which boasts a 50,000 square foot grassy area, allowing plenty of social distancing between vendors and patrons. This marketplace will showcase local vendors and will provide brick and mortar retail stores an opportunity to literally take their products and services outside. More than 50 local businesses have already signed on to participate.
The City’s Department of Tourism, Culture and Development applied for the grant from the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation to operate the event.
“Throughout this pandemic, businesses have become creative in finding ways to generate revenue. We are seeing restaurants find new ways to allow for dining outside, so why not give shops and merchants an opportunity to take their business outdoors too?” said Solomon. “I’m thrilled that our team was able to receive this grant funding to provide a new, different venue for local merchants and vendors to showcase their products and services.”
Organizers will utilize the Take It Outside funding to purchase a large industrial tent and outdoor heaters so the Outside Marketplace can continue into the colder weather. Staff will be on hand to ensure social distancing and provide sanitizer. All patrons and vendors will be required to wear cloth face coverings or masks. Additionally, staff will be on hand to ensure that the capacity does not exceed what state guidelines recommend (which is currently 250 people for outdoor settings pertaining to public events). Vendors are required to pay a $25 fee to participate, which will go toward the Warwick Police Department’s K-9 unit. The event is free for shoppers.
“In addition to providing an opportunity for local businesses to reach more customers, this endeavor is a great example of different entities working together,” said Solomon. “This idea came about when a local business owner, Debbie Wood of Wood Boat and Motor, contacted my office to ask if we would partner with her on an outdoor market. I asked our Department of Tourism, Culture and Development and our Parks and Recreation Department to work with Mrs. Wood to pin down the logistical and regulatory details. My team was also in constant communication with our partners in the business and hospitality industry to ensure there wasn’t overlap between their efforts and ours. At the end of the day, we all have the same goal: to support local businesses while keeping folks safe. Working together, we were able to quickly and efficiently put together what’s sure to be a great – and equally important, safe – series of events.”
Under Mayor Solomon’s direction, City’s Department of Tourism, Culture and Development worked closely with partners in the business and hospitality industry, including the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, and the Rhode Island Hospitality Association, all of whom also received Take It Outside funding, to ensure that there was not overlap between efforts.
The 2020 Autumn Outside Marketplace is the latest initiative by Solomon to support local businesses. Mayor Solomon recently extended an executive order allowing temporary outdoor seating for restaurants in Warwick with no additional fees, as long as they are in compliance with related safety regulations. The executive order was slated to expire on Oct. 17, but Mayor Solomon has extended it through Dec. 31, 2020.
Additionally, upon the Mayor’s recommendation, the Warwick Board of Public Safety will allow businesses to make two payments instead of one full payment for liquor licenses. Bars, restaurants, and other hospitality industry businesses whose liquor licenses are due on December 1, 2020 will have the option to make two biannual payments instead of one single lump sum payment. The fee for a full liquor license in Warwick is $1,050 per year. Under the biannual payment plan, businesses will be able to pay $525 in December and an additional $525 payment in May of 2021. Businesses are not required to use the payment plan option for liquor license payments and may still make a single full payment if they are able to do so.
Solomon has made other efforts to help residents and businesses navigate the financial challenges caused by the COVID-19 crisis:
- The City of Warwick was among the first in the state to extend payment deadlines for taxes and utility bills in March;
- Mayor Solomon signed another executive order offering a 30-day grace period for tax payments in June to again give City taxpayers increased flexibility and time; and
- Mayor Solomon supported state efforts to help the commercial fishing industry by authorizing the City’s Licensing Division to issue temporary sales licenses to DEM-licensed commercial fishermen to sell certain species of fish, and to sell and transport for sale live lobsters and crabs, directly to consumers and licensed seafood retailers from the vessel on which they were harvested