Business owners speak out against new thrift store
A lot of controversy surrounding a possible thrift store in Madison that has many business owners concerned. It's called the community thrift store project and is being led by a local steering committee.
The last meeting was in late April when both sides of the project spoke out in front of the Madison City Commission.
Residents and business owners spoke out against the project because of how much it could cost taxpayers.
The thrift store would be organized by a nonprofit organization. Profits in the store would benefit local programs in Lake County. The store would sell only donated items rather than consignment goods.
The project's estimated cost sits just under $1 million with partial funding by the city.
The proposal includes getting land for free and paying zero property taxes.
Gayle Maberry owns the 4 Seasons Fleamarket and was taken by complete surprise upon hearing about a proposal to build another thrift store just three blocks away.
"We're all stunned because none of us knew what was going on. We had no idea anyone was even thinking about doing this," Gayle Maberry said.
Signs sit on her store-front windows asking for help to save her business. She claims commissioners agreed to let taxpayers pay for a store that may jeopardize her profits.
It's something that, she says, has sparked a lot of outrage in Madison.
"It'll take my profits away because everything I have in my business will be in theirs too. They're getting their items donated to them so they don't need to have the mark-up because it's all free to them," Gayle Maberry said.
She, and others, wish the city would invest its money into something else like a new grocery store or movie theatre.
We caught up with a new business owner who admits she wouldn't have opened her store in May had she known about this proposal.
"I don't think it will take me out of business because of the quality of clothing but I think it could affect some of my profits which could affect me," Sharon Patch said. "It's something, I think, was handled poorly through everyone because it wasn't brought to anyone's attention until after it was all said and done," she said.
They only hope a new store would have little - to no - effect on theirs.
"You can't compete against a free building, no property tax, no cost on your merchandise. How can you compete with that?" Maberry said.
Both sides of this project plan to talk to Madison City Commissioners, Monday at 5:30 p.m.
If plans move forward, store owners plan to start a petition. They would need to collect 277 signatures.