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Fourth Ave. merchants optimistic about fair

Citizen Staff Writer



The sour economy may work in the favor of the 4th Avenue Spring Street Fair this weekend as shoppers home in on bargains, longtime Fourth Avenue merchants predict.

Organizers expect to fill all 370 artist booths, though there will be a shift to Tucson artisans with fewer merchants from the traveling street fair circuit, said John Sedwick, executive director of the 4th Avenue Merchants Association.

He said Tucson artists will fill one-third of the booths rather than the usual 20 percent to 25 percent. Sedwick expects the usual attendance of about 250,000, but thinks that people likely will be spending less.

“I think people are ready to get out and have a good time,” Sedwick said. “For St. Patrick’s Day, we had close to double the number of people we normally have.”

Fourth Avenue is more resilient to the economy because merchants are generally improvising all the time – good economy or bad, said Arlene Leaf, owner of Tucson Thrift Shop, 319 N. Fourth Ave.

“We can respond to what’s going on so much better,” Leaf said. “When you hear all the horror tales, it’s tied into a certain type of merchant with huge volumes and huge leases. They don’t have the resources to pull in the belt a little bit.”

Leaf thinks her thrift shop is the perfect ticket for a dead economy.

“Now that people are more thrift conscious, I hope they’ll come in and like what they see,” Leaf said.

Kanella Conklin is reopening her Kanella’s clothing store Friday in a new location at 300 N. Fourth Ave., behind two of the sidewalk arches at the former Value Village.

“I think we’re going to do real well,” said Conklin, still putting the finishing touches to her new store on Thursday. “Because of the economy, people aren’t traveling. They are going to do things that are more local. That’s what the street fair is all about.”

Craig Wilson, owner of Creative Vintage Craft Mall, 522 N. Fourth Ave., has been talking to street fair merchants on the traveling circuit.

“They’re saying they’re 10 percent down. I’ll take that,” Wilson said. However, the rosy weather forecast may counter the economy. Rain dampened activity at the last street fair.

“We expect to be up over the last few fairs,” Wilson said. “We think it will be a pretty good week.”

Merchants’ hopes are high for 4th Avenue Spring Street Fair this weekend

If you go

What: 4th Avenue Spring Street Fair

Where: Fourth Avenue between University Boulevard and Ninth Street

When: 10 a.m. to dusk (about 6:30 p.m.) Friday, Saturday, Sunday

Cost: None, unless you buy something

Motor vehicles will be banned from Third Avenue to Fifth Avenue between University Boulevard and Ninth Street through midnight Sunday. University and Sixth Street will remain open for motor vehicle traffic.

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