Plenty of Space at the ‘Open Air Artisan Market’ in Downtown Niagara Falls

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The area designated for the Open Air Artisan Market between 1st and 3rd Street.

Concern over Dyster Administration’s ability to bring development to Downtown Niagara Falls continues to grow.


By: Nicholas D. D’Angelo

Managing Editor

The Niagara Mist Open Air Artisan Market was an idea meant to recreate the kind of downtown tourist area the city had during the first half of the 20th Century.

An initiative driven by Mayor Paul Dyster’s administration, the Artisan Market is to run between May 1st and September 30th, providing outdoor retail opportunities for some 50 vendors.

The idea is for vendors to sell products from inside tents along the sidewalks of Niagara Street – from Third Street to Rainbow Boulevard – only steps from the Niagara Falls State Park.

It is to operate daily between 9 am and 10 pm and present an opportunity for people who want to make money this summer to run their own tourist-oriented small business.

Many residents of Niagara Falls recall Mayor Dyster’s ill-fated Holiday Market from a few years ago that cost the city some $500,000 and where the profits fell into the hands of one developer from Idaho. It was a shabby mess and a colossal failure.

Perhaps learning from past mistakes, the Artisan Market was not going to cost taxpayers anything.  The idea was, in all honesty, not a bad one.

The application to become a vendor is free, but if you were approved there would be a one-time $1,500 license fee that goes to the City of Niagara Falls. This fee would cover the entire season.

There were no other fees. Nor is there a percentage of profits that a vendor would have to share with the city. Whatever you made was yours to keep.

However, like many of the Dyster administration’s previous money-making endeavors, this one has fallen short of its goal.

The Artisan Market was supposed to provide tourists and residents alike an ambiance similar to what Lewiston experiences during the Lewiston Arts Festival or in Buffalo at Canalside during the summer months.

As it pertains to small businesses on Third Street, the Artisan Market was supposed to funnel tourists to them to eat or shop.

Upon taking a day-trip to Downtown Niagara Falls on Sunday June 10th, it appears none of the administration’s goals for the Artisan Market, no matter how well-intentioned, have come to fruition.

On a sunny and 70 degree day at the height of the tourist season – when you would certainly expect the city to be bustling with tourists, there was not a single vendor to be seen.

Granted, there was one vendor tent, but it was abandoned up against the Rainbow Parking Garage and blowing all over the place.


An abandoned tent along the Rainbow Parking Garage


Possibly representing the failures of Dyster and his administration when it comes to economic development, this abandoned white tent, blowing in every direction with the wind, is indicative of more than just a failed idea to bring excitement to an otherwise depressing sight between First and Third Street along Niagara Street.

It shows that no amount of superficial or cosmetic changes can alter the true nature of what Dyster has allowed Downtown Niagara Falls to become: an absolute embarrassment.

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