‘I want Edmonds back’: Merchant files claim against city for business losses due to Walkable Main

Randall Hodges at work with Mount Rainier in the background. (Photo courtesy Randall Hodges)

“Walkable Main is killing my business,” laments internationally acclaimed photographer and Edmonds merchant Randall J. Hodges, who has submitted a $14,900 claim with the City of Edmonds to compensate him for business lost at his downtown Edmonds gallery due to what Hodges calls the “failed plan” of Walkable Main Street (WMS).

He came up with the figure by comparing his Saturday receipts for “a few years prior to Walkable Main” with Saturdays during the street closures, adding that the amount he has taken in for all 2021 Walkable Main Saturdays combined equals “what I used to be able to do in a single Saturday.” His claim states that during Walkable Main Saturdays his walk-in traffic was down 50 percent, and sales were down 90 percent.

Hodges has run his photography gallery since 2014 at 317 Main Street, in the heart of downtown Edmonds’ commercial district.  He specializes in large pieces depicting “images of the west,” characterized by vibrant colors and razor-sharp details.

He chose Edmonds after a very deliberate search of more than 40 Northwest cities for a community with “an art-loving public.” He was drawn to the “cute and unique” old-school style downtown that “nurtures shoppers and business alike.”  And it didn’t hurt that for several years prior to setting up here, Hodges showcased his work at the Edmonds Arts Festival where it was well-received.

“Edmonds is a beautiful town,” he explains.  “It has its own charm and has drawn the right folks to my business.  But Walkable Main changed everything.  It turned Saturdays – which used to be my best day of the week – into the worst.  I signed up for a place on a sidewalk where people walk up and down, not where they’re walking out in the middle of the street partying.”

From the program’s outset, other merchants have voiced similar concerns about Walkable Main, at one point proposing to limit it to Sundays only in 2021. Despite receiving some support, this proposal was rejected by the city in favor of full-weekend street closures.

Hodges says he depends on sidewalk traffic to draw customers into his studio, and that Walkable Main Street has impacted that traffic. (Photo via Google street view)

City of Edmonds Economic Development Director Patrick Doherty said that Hodges’ claim is something of an outlier and added that most businesses have done quite well during Walkable Main weekends.

“There are no other such claims,” he said in an email. “In the eyes of the public, and many business owners, WMS has been a resounding success in both 2020 and 2021 – both as a response to COVID-19-related restrictions and concerns, as well as a way for the public to engage in a very meaningful way with our downtown. We have received comments over the past two years from hundreds of people who have commended the city in this effort.

“Early data from June (when we had two WMS weekends) showed that almost every business was up over June 2020 and June 2019,” Doherty continued.  “We are awaiting sales tax revenue reports from the Department of Revenue for July and August to see in detail how the merchants along Main Street (and otherwise in downtown) have fared this past summer as compared to last summer and the summer of 2019.”

Hodges first made his concerns known in an email to the Downtown Edmonds Merchants Association (DEMA), of which he is a member, as a way to spark discussion and gain support for ending Walkable Main.

“There’s no question that everyone has been hit hard by COVID. Walkable Main – originally part of addressing this – has hit some harder than others,” explained DEMA President Jen Lawson, owner of Crow Boutique. “It was started due to the pandemic as a way to bring people downtown. And at first it provided some needed relief. But this summer was different – the critical need just isn’t there anymore.”

When she first took over leading the group this year, Lawson had a sit-down with Mayor Mike Nelson. One of the topics they discussed was Walkable Main.

According to Lawson, Nelson told her that Walkable Main was “no longer on his radar” and that he would be “turning it over to (the Edmonds City) Council to consider whether or not to do it again.”

Additional insight into Walkable Main’s future was provided by Patrick Doherty.

“As a result of the surveys [see survey results here] and great support from the public…the administration intends to propose a similar program in 2022, but this time with the engagement and approval of city council, which may include whatever level of public input and/or survey is appropriate,” he explained. “The extent, location, duration, etc., of such a future WMS-type program would be entirely open for discussion and decision. In the end, we believe the 2020 and 2021 WMS programs will have served as a positive pilot for what may become an ongoing program.”

Hodges’ claim was scheduled to be acknowledged by the city council as part of the Tuesday, Sept. 28 consent agenda. From there, it will be turned over to the Washington Cities Insurance Authority (WCIA), of which Edmonds is a member, for investigation and adjudication. Following this, WICA will either approve or deny the claim. If the claim is denied, Hodges would have the option to file a lawsuit.

“For me this claim is really not about the money,” Hodges concludes. “My end goal — I love this place and I want Edmonds back.”

— By Larry Vogel

  1. Wow… Well I expected this would eventually come around to this type of thing… I would say that now is the time for other Merchants to speak up if they want to see things back to normal. Right now. It doesn’t mean you have to file it just means you have to let THEM know of your intent and your unhappiness as a merchant.
    And then of course we have a new council coming up in a very short time. SO be sure to know what your candidates want when it comes to this situation. Use your vote folks…Either way a vote is a vote and if it goes the way its looking walkable main will be gone. I am assuming of course. No animosity here to any merchant they are your businesses.

    1. Walkable Main is applaudable, Edmonds hasn’t ever been busier in the last year on weekends, just anecdotal but sure does seem like it. I think the problem is that millennials who are visiting town more often have too many online options for canvas and other prints. Compete with online marketplaces or unfortunately you will fail as a business.

      1. Not True Kevin, sales for many, many businesses were way down on weekends because of WMS. Edmonds was not busier than ever, not with actual shoppers. I have a big online presence, but that does not make up for lost sales due to WMS. My Mondays out performed my Saturday’s. Before WMS Saturdays were the busiest day of the week

  2. I believe it.. most retail business is down 50%. The city only a restaurant and bar town now. Hard to remember this used to be a arts town.

    1. I will certainly vote NO for the “new” face of Edmonds.
      If us busy,people coming out of lockdown. Thus not our normal living just a reactionist move. Albeit it was needed in that moment but looking at the present and forward we nerd to open up our streets in town, once again.
      Eateries can serve within the boundaries of their establishments as initially intended.
      The present council only made a conciliatory open forum for citizens to respond to. Many comment were not supportive of closing our access to many of our loved businesses.
      Not food driven.
      But a decision had already been made and implemented. It was a check box, done and done.
      Wine bars, nail salons and eateries….. how many do we need.
      Yes, we used to be a supportive center for art and artists, all the way back to Llubs art supply on 5th avenue. Artists and art was the heart and essence of our towns culture
      I’m in favor of bringing back the town that we could access, not trucks and SUV blocking the road for curbside pickup, sidewalks cluttered and closed off , streets shutdown with no consumer access unless food and drink have taken over as a misguided sense of “culture”
      Not a rant just a YES vote to disband walkable Edmonds.
      Lets really move back , one step, to move forward sans a pandemic mentality.

  3. I’m in agreement about wanting Edmonds back but it isn’t just the Walkable Main. It’s also the restaurants taking up so much of the parking with their outside enclosures in the street that there is no where to park anymore. I know this was because of Covid but restaurants are now open and these should be taken down. Edmonds has always been the cutest little town to walk the sidewalks and shop. However, the outside restaurants have ruined the old nostalgic ambience of Edmonds along with taking up so much of the parking that I just don’t go anymore.

    1. Ellen. I emailed City Officials the following this morning. This is not the first time I’ve brought this to their attention:

      Reminder – Edmonds City Council failed to hold the required Public Hearing within 60 days of passing Ordinance 4209.

      Was Ordinance 4209 null and void once the City failed to hold the required Public Hearing within 60 days?

      The following words are taken directly from Ordinance 4209:

      Without an immediate adoption of this interim zoning ordinance,
      streateries would need to continue to operate under a special event permit, but that permit was
      supposed to expire on December 31, 2020.

      Please inform all those impacted by the City Council’s failure to hold a Public Hearing on interim zoning ordinance 4209 within at least sixty (60) days of adoption.

      What must happen now? How many zoning code violations have taken place and are taking place? How will the City make businesses whole who have been harmed by the streateries?

      1. Randall – On October 3, 2021 at 2:44 PM, I emailed Mayor Mike Nelson, Acting Development Services Director Rob Chave and City Attorney Jeff Taraday. The email was cc’d to full City Council, Executive Assistant to Council Maureen Judge and Economic Development and Community Services Director Patrick Doherty.

        The subject title to my email was: Re: Streateries-VERY IMPORTANT

        Following is the content of my email dealing with the Streateries and the failure to have a Public Hearing within 60 days of December 15, 2020. Only City Councilmember Diane Buckshnis responded to the following:

        Please appreciate:

        -I’m not the Development Services Director who advised City Council prior to its December 15, 2020 vote on Ordinance 4209 about a Public Hearing requirement and proposed February 2, 2021 as a possible Public Hearing Date.

        -I’m not the City Attorney in attendance when Shane Hope made those representations. I’m not the City Attorney who approved Ordinance 4209 as to form, an Ordinance that states in Section 2 Emergency Declaration that it is an interim zoning ordinance.

        -I’m not a city councilmember, the Executive Assistant to Council, the City Clerk or others who could have marked on a calendar to have that Public Hearing within 60 days.

        I’m just a citizen providing you the service of pointing out your illegal conduct.
        Now please do the right thing and address your illegal conduct.

  4. I hope.the city breaks out restaurant sales tax from retail stores. The city spent 66,000 in economic recovery funds to close main st in 2021
    Hope we got our money’s worth

    1. Thank you, Don Hall, for providing this financial data. Funny (and sad), as a Council Member, I have asked for an accounting of Walkable Main Street since last year and have received nothing. Can you send me the data you received so that I can follow through. I do know that our City’s overtime was hit because Mr Williams brought up his staff used overtime to set up and tear down WMS; and I know the Parks staff was used once for overtime when they went and took all the tables and chairs on a Sunday so as to utilize those items at City Park. You have my email address; and I think as a legislator, we need to really look at any policies that need to be developed to curtail some of these experiments that are done without compromise or transparency.

    2. Why did it cost 66,000. dollars to uh…What exactly was involved in the closing of a street…What did they do before asking? Certainly the restaurants must have had to pay for their own streaterie? I would like to know exactly what and why it cost that much to have a concrete barrier and if was that, and this was supposed to be temporary as far as the general public knew why would they be so irresponsible. I assume all of this came from the taxpayers all thru Edmonds. Is that correct? So I have been paying taxes for a place meant for us to park for over a year now and yet not able to use the service I and all of you are paying for. Is that ok… I think not.

      1. All I received from Mr. Hall was summary of the three departments that money came out of and I have yet to receive a comprehensive summary. The Mayor has a $100k authority limit for spending and then “we” are still operating under the emergency code 6.60. I have asked repeatedly to bring that code back but … you can fill in the blanks.

        The last legislative budget town hall is tonight at Hickman Park. Come join Vivian and I if you can.

  5. I love Walkable Main! I never have issues parking and it’s actually made me come to downtown more. I’m super curious to see the sales tax data, though. I wonder how it breaks down between different types of businesses too.

  6. We ALL want our town back! I completely agree with Hodges. Between “walkable Main Street” and the restaurants taking up all the parking, I can’t even find parking and have been shopping online and at the Lake Forest park square for my needs. It’s a shame that after living here in my little town for 62 years and enjoying the art of my little town, that I’ve been forced out. As a disabled resident, it’s impossible for me now.

  7. My own personal belief is the flow of the streets that are open and not open and cross streets that go through is not good. It’s kind of just a confusing hassle and so we pretty much avoid the downtown on the weekend. I suspect people that are enjoying it more are there to get food. I lean more on the give the merchants that aren’t restaurants their town back. They need to make a living as well and I don’t think it is helping.

  8. I can’t believe Edmonds is starting to sound like Florida. Do you all forget that we are still in the middle of a PANDEMIC! How can anyone, possibly think that comparing sales from 2019 and 2020 is a valid comparison?? Is it possible that WITHOUT WMS there would have been even fewer people, during a pandemic?!

    1. WMS combined with the lost parking are wrecking retail. Pandemic wise, people are spending money like there is no tomorrow. Businesses are like fisherman trying to net that money. Downtown is limited space, dominated by eatery business now. I own 2 spots downtown in my plaza. Always people are parking in them, walking to a streetery to eat, occupying even more spots. WMS exacerbates the trend that people would rather buy off Amazon instead of wrestle for parking at a local retail. If people could eat out at Amazon restaurants, WMS and streeteries would mess up the restaurant business too. This is an extremely in-EQUITABLE situation.

    2. I so agree with you. We are still in a pandemic and “going back to normal” is an absurd comment. Do the retailers consider that maybe people don’t want to shop inside small stores or spend their money on frivolous purchases when times have been tough for many? I just don’t believe that with all the “walking” traffic that the restaurants, outside seating and parking are the sole cause of retail downturn.

      I’ve lived in Edmonds long enough to remember when you could buy the necessities of life. There was a grocery store, a produce store, kids shoe shop, fabric store, men’s clothing store, a drug store, a variety store and more. So it has not always been an “arts” town. Things change. Life doesn’t stay the same and Covid is going nowhere. This is the new normal.

      Oh, and by the way, do the retailers not think that restaurant takings were and are down significantly over 2019. They not only had to reinvent themselves and provide services in ways they never had before. They had to make major purchases to accommodate the changes. And they still can’t open all “normal” hours because they can’t get the staff!

      I love walkable main. And as for parking, Edmonds has never been good on that score. Definitely a sizable lot or multistory would be great.

  9. Art pieces are just trading cards for rich people. Shocking that a community isn’t buying art right now.

    Get over yourself, lol

    1. You have no pictures on your walls? Nothing to remind you of beauty or things you love? No music either, maybe? All just toys for the rich. Better close down half the shops in Edmonds, lol.

  10. Please listen to these businesses. We love the market (Spring & Summer) and all of us support the Festivals, but I too miss the shops (Savy Traveler is a huge loss!!) I miss walking the sidewalks & visiting with people. The “streeteries” are ruining our ambiance. And closing Main Street is foolish. Folks will shop without having the street closed.. bonus – we could park! Did anyone ever see the streets crowded during Walkable? Someone stepped up to solve a problem that didn’t exist. Please return our downtown to the quintessential small town charm. (Plus those white plastic tables are tacky!) most of all.. redouble your efforts to shop local and shop small local businesses!

    1. Agreed. It’s not just art, it is a community that had charming, not frivolous , shops.
      Back in the day, and I miss those too when there were more serviceable businesses but that pendulum swung wide, then too. Now no one really wants the big box but return to local support.
      Still miss lumber yard, Crowe Hardware. Variety that had everything then some.
      We all seem to want a community experience again.
      Not a town overrun with only food and drink.

  11. This has happened in *every city I’ve ever known (and the US is the fourth country I’ve lived in) that tries to make part of its downtown pedestrian friendly. During the initial adjustment period a few business owners complain, some citizens who resist every change of any kind join them, and there’s a storm in a teacup. Ask them again in a year or so and no-one will want to go back to cars everywhere because, once people are used to them, the safety and convenience of pedestrian-friendly zones increase foot traffic, and foot traffic is what gets shoppers in to stores.

    1. Thank you! The voice of reason among a bunch of whiners who want to cling to the past. Times change and we all have to move with the times or get left behind. Our lives are forever changed by the past year and a half.
      I have been in Edmonds over 50 years and so many businesses have come and gone, including restaurants. The obsession with the automobile and people thinking they need to park right outside the store they want to visit boggles my mind.
      It’s no secret that Edmonds lacks parking and it would be good to have that addressed. But enough of blaming the restaurants, the outside eateries, and walkable Main Street for everything. There are many factors that have affected business in a pandemic.

  12. Washington state has lost so many little towns to developers and Edmonds has done it right! No fast food chains! Comfortable calm place to walk. No hussle place to get away from it all. I miss driving through the town, I hate the look of the restaurants enclosures, wrecks the whole scene. Stay the same edmonds don’t be fools. Change is not always good. Parking would be a better plan to concentrate on in the community. Ive been down a couple of times this summer and I’m usually down lots but it just wasn’t the same with the streets closed and the ugly enclosures which just makes you think if covid.

  13. I just want to say thank you to all of the people who made it possible for the restuarants to survive. Please listen to what people are saying, but also know you are amazing for what you did during a pandemic. Thank you for building outdoor areas, for many to stay in business, and working. Remember its always hard to find a seat in a resturant, but pretty easy to walk around an art studio without bumping into someond. Support the masses, not the few, maybe meet in the middle. Good luck.

    1. Edmonds does need parking space. We should have a central parking garage to accommodate our growth….or several designated parking lots walking distance to shops. It is our hope that this will happen sooner rather than later.

      1. Thank you. Please discuss and talk to your friends and groups. WE need to speak up here if we want things done in the proper and fair way. Thank you so much.

      2. As an Edmonds resident I participated in a survey about WMS last year. I thought it was a great idea given Covid restrictions. I’m not sure what the deal is with all of the highly charged comments, but I find it hard to believe that the current Council is out to ruin the quality of life in Edmonds; they live here, too. If it was a failed experiment in your opinion by all means respectfully address it with the Council; all constituents voices should be heard and we need our small businesses. Screaming matches and stomping feet are for toddlers.

    2. I do agree with you. Amazing effort, ingenuity and expense on the part of the restaurants and their owners and it makes me very sad to read all the thoughtless disparaging words and complaints.
      They did what they had to survive. I applaud them and the city for working with them to help them through this miserable, tough time of Covid.

  14. The April 6, 2021 City Council Agenda included a “New Business” item for “Walkable Main Street 2021”.
    The related Meeting Minutes include:

    Councilmember Distelhorst thanked Mr. Doherty for the presentation and the packet, finding the information very helpful. He commented at least one other Councilmember was on the March 25th roundtable and he appreciated the professional facilitation of that discussion as well as the good banter between interested parties. It was interesting to hear businesses say something and other businesses and stakeholders responding affirmatively in the chat. He made the following suggestions: temporary ADA parking close to the pedestrian zone, higher quality safety barriers considering the number of pedestrians downtown, map of transportation options so people know who to get to downtown without driving, and collaborate with churches with large parking lots on existing transit routes. He recalled the consensus at the March 25th roundtable was that music not be amplified and music be scheduled so that people could plan around it.

    At end of discussion:

    Councilmember Fraley-Monillas said she looked forward to further discussion and input.

    I don’t think the topic ever came back to Council for further discussion and input after April 6th.

    Regarding “streateries”:

    Edmonds City Council passed Ordinance 4209 on December 15, 2020. Ordinance 4209 is the Ordinance that allows “STREATERIES” for dining in the public right of way.

    Ordinance 4209 clearly states the following within the body of the Ordinance:

    “Without an immediate adoption of this interim zoning ordinance, streateries would need to continue to operate under a special event permit, but that permit was supposed to expire on December 31, 2020.”

    State law (RCW 35A.63.220) states that: “A legislative body that adopts a moratorium or interim zoning ordinance, without holding a public hearing on the proposed moratorium or interim zoning ordinance, shall hold a public hearing on the adopted moratorium or interim zoning ordinance within at least sixty days of its adoption, whether or not the legislative body received a recommendation on the matter from the planning agency.”

    The required Public Hearing was not held. A Public Hearing has never been held.

  15. Randall Hodges is absolutely right. The walkable Main Street is awful. Our town looks like a junkyard and parking is difficult. There is no need for WMS to extend down to 3rd Street and up to 6th. It’s overextended, and the only thing I’ve ever seen in the middle of the road that far west and east is chalk drawings. I say, reevaluate with logic and common sense.

  16. This is mind boggling entitlement. First off, if you sell photography but do most of your business in a brick and mortar store, 1992 is calling, it wants it’s business plan back! Second, the “downtown core” of Edmonds is literally three blocks, not even the whole block, just one street. How lazy can you be? Do we need more people crashing into the fountain when people are trying to walk the (very short) distance from one end to the other to buy a few things? Downtown Edmonds is fine, though it could probably use a free parking lot somewhere close to “the downtown core” so people with more mobility could go to leave the street spots for people who need them more. Whenever I read these local articles it makes me glad that my 9 year old only whines about having to take a shower!

    1. I agree with you. I find it stunning that people are so short sighted and ready to place blame without looking to themselves. Yes, we need parking. No question. But Covid restrictions in mind, surely someone who truly wants to shop or is a loyal customer of a given retailer is going to find a way to do it.

      1. Susan… eateries are at 100% capacity already, now they are 200% capacity. What restrictions are you talking about? Been living downtown for 12 years. Saturday was the busiest day I’ve ever seen. It’s a bonanza, and restaurants have gamed COVID at the expense of retail.

        1. Well I heartily disagree with you. I have lived in Edmonds for over 50 years and witnessed many changes in the core with the comings and going’s of businesses over and over. I also know some of the restaurant owners very well and you are deluded if you think that restaurants have had a banner year and a half under Covid. And I certainly don’t believe restaurants are to blame for lack of retail trade.

        2. MarKet [one of many examples] for example has twice the seating than what they were originally zoned for. I can count, and without COVID there wouldn’t have been twice the capacity. This is taking advantage of a disease to sell shrimp in a bag. We should still be able to disagree about whether or not that is justified without name-calling. Also, people park in my spots to eat there, so I have standing. I dare say, in the 50 years you’ve lived here, it’s never been this busy in deadMonds, thanks to the pandemic.

    2. “Do we need more people crashing into the fountain when people are trying to walk the (very short) distance from one end to the other to buy a few things?”

      And just when exactly was the fountain “crashed into”? In your world every brick and mortar store on Main and Fifth is soooo 1992. You’ve just insulted every retail store owner in Edmonds.

      What an arrogant reply.

      Speaking of whining….

    3. Well stated! BTW, Mr. Hodges also has a store in Cannon Beach and a significant online store. The Retailers are getting spun up by one business owner who has been fighting WMS since the inception. Parking has always been an issue and needs to dealt with. The spaces taken up by the streeteries are not the problem. If these Restaurants had not done this, they would have closed their doors a year ago. I personally respect their creativity and perseverance to keep us all fed. An earlier comment mentioned people spending money like no tomorrow. That is absolutely untrue. With unemployment on the rise and more loss of businesses still coming, people are being more cautious with their spending and are certainly not buying high end Women’s clothing (where would they wear it?), Art or expensive jewelry. As far as Edmonds ‘looking like a junkyard’, how would you feel if someone publicly insulted your home or business?
      Can’t we all just ‘Simmer down now’ and get through these very difficult times? Please?

    4. You also must pay an expensive lease and collect and pay taxes to the City of Edmonds, this gallery is my dream, and hopefully where I will retire. I am a world renown photographer and I chose the cute little downtown of Edmonds for my business. I love the Old School look and feel of this town as it was.

  17. When you have a town run by a serial strong man executive and subservient staff with virtually no check and balances on power except often unwanted advice from the public, this is the type of stuff you end up with. The public has no true representation thru the Council. Time to look again at strong Council, City Manager government in Edmonds. That’s the only thing that will really change anything here.

    1. Mr. Hodges, I would hope you would sue the Mayor personally as the closing of main st. was never brought before or voted, The Mayor claims he can close streets when ever he wants as long as only temporary. Another example of his high handedness

  18. The walkable Main Street is wonderful! Consider that business was slow due to other circumstances, like Covid, people more careful with money? That’s happening everywhere. I think walkable days make Edmonds more inviting and unique. Change is good. And many, many cities in Europe have walkable areas that are crowded during normal times, even in deep snow! And I live in Edmonds Bowl.

    Let’s grow with the times.

    1. Business has been beyond challenging for all. I love walkable streets. Coming from UK and Europe I am used to them and I wish we had more not less. Absolutely time to adjust and grow with the times we are living in.

    2. Hello Terry, I might consider your comment about business being slow for other reasons except for this: the only days my business was much slower than normal was on the Saturday’s and Sunday’s of WMS. Before it started, and as soon as it was over, my customer counts and sales on the weekends went right back to normal. Business was normal the other days of the week. WMS literally killed my weekend business, which was huge because Saturdays were typically the busiest day of the week. You see I pay an expensive lease for my space, but what I am really paying for is the 20 feet of window space along the sidewalk. This is how I get new customers. They walk by my windows, see my beautiful photography, and come in and have a look around. With WMS they walk 20 feet from my windows and never even know I am here. On average before walkable main street I would get 100+ customers in my gallery on Saturdays in the summer. During WMS my average dropped to 10. Yes just 10. I tracked it. It is pretty hard for me to see another reason I lost all those customers.

      1. I’m curious.
        If your business is dependent on foot traffic, I imagine it is down during the cold wet winters when people are less inclined to be out walking without purpose.
        Do you have a website? I don’t know too many successful artists that don’t have a vibrant website to share their talent with the world.
        You say your Saturday’s render 100 plus customers. Hmm! That would be 12 per hour in an 8 hour day. I’ve never seen traffic like that in Edmonds in all the 50 years I’ve lived here unless there was a major close out sale. And I have worked retail in Edmonds in the past. And I have walked and shopped the majority of stores over the years. But I have not visited any of the shops since the beginning of the pandemic because I choose not to go into a small location where I don’t know what I might be exposed to.
        I definitely believe that there are more factors in play in regard to loss of business.
        But I also heartily support WMS. I believe it allowed survival for many businesses. I don’t object to the temporary structures because it did allow families to be together and feel safer and allow restaurants an delivery option to address that. I also believe that the pandemic drew many peoples attention to what is important, family, friends and the ones we love. Focus was not on possessions and shopping when just doing normal activities was so challenging.
        Edmonds is always changing and I’ve seen so many businesses come and go, including restaurants.
        I applaud the city for allowing WMS and outside eateries and I am saddened by all the complainers and disparaging words about both.

  19. Art is done, especially photography. People can nowdownload beautiful pictures for nothing and project large vibrant images onto flat screens that are ever-changing slideshows. It even has a frame. I know the trend. I’m a visual artist. Time for a newer idea than transferring one image from life onto paper.

    1. I really can’t understand the snarky responses about Randall’s profession – not only from you but from other commenters as well.

      Is it because he has a small retail shop that’s been greatly impacted by WMS and yet some people
      want nothing to get in the way of their exhilarating stroll in the middle of a street on both Saturdays and Sundays?

      If there was a compromise of a WMS on Sundays only this wouldn’t be an issue. But it is.

      BTW if what you described in Randall’s putdown is how you buy your art… Oh, never mind.

      1. Last time i checked there are FIVE BUSINESS days in the week in addition to the weekend. Seems to me anyone who really wants to visit a specific retail location has ample opportunity. I’m also pretty sure that businesses in brick and mortar locations all over have scene a decline. Why anyone expects anything different makes no sense. We all adapt, or at least those of us who want to survive. It is absurd to expect business to be normal in extreme circumstances or uncharted territory..

        1. Then you would have no objection to making WMS on Mondays and Tuesdays or Wednesdays and Thursdays. Can you adapt to that?

        2. No offense meant to you Susan.
          I think sometimes people must forget that yes their are 5 business days Mon-Friday every week. But what many who embrace this take over the city on both weekend days are forgetting that most people are working on Mon-Friday and actually cannot come to Edmonds to shop during the week. That is a fact that we seem to forget here. If it is safe to go into to these packed sheds and spend the day it is safe to walk into a business. But for a city or a council to think that people who have jobs which is most people, and can’t shop during the week is no big deal. Well they are simply wrong. It is a big deal. People who Christmas shop most people, except of course those who don’t have to work as they are independently wealthy, need the weekend to do it. I thought it was sort of ok when they were willing and going to have SAT for no walkable main with parking available and Sunday they could have the pavilion and party all day. I think we even included after 7 on Saturday and all day Sunday. Now I really didn’t want it at all but this seemed like at least FAIR so everyone would be able to shop in Edmonds. But that was shot down and we know why. So I do not support this walkable main. I no longer accept that the streateries are even their really legally??? Those parking places need to be available and those streateries although passable barely do not allow for much distancing etc. We need it to go back to just the way it was before we ever heard the word Covid… We have really added to Edmonds during this time.
          Many new places to go, more everything for the Bowl. It seems to me that now that we are even more tax burdened that we could at least have the respect we deserve as tax payers who live too far to walk a mile up and down…

    2. That is just not true at all. Art is not dead, it is alive and well. Edmonds has long been known for the art in its town. Art is a very important and vital part of the community. Being full time selling my photography for over 21 years , I have some expertize in this area., I am saddened by your comment.

    3. Hello Gary. How about you stop in my gallery and really see what I do and how I do it. How about you come in and look at my photography and how I show it before you make this comment. Not only is it insulting to my life’s work, it is also insulting to every customer out there who still wants to support artists by purchasing their work. I sure hope art is never done, it would be a sad commentary on our society, since it has literally been around for thousands of years, and adds so much to the human existence.

    4. YA know tell that to someone who actually owns a rembrandt or any of the Masters. Tell that to one who just owns an etching or lithograph of a master artist…. Art has been here since the beginning of time it seems. Paintings and sculptures never to be replicated. You I don’t get. IT you want everything digital and not real artisan work then fine but don’t say ART is done. Art will probably be one of the last things to go. And your computer screen all doctored and cropped and light changed will probably be the first to go. Ya know one of these days these Satellites that support your machine are going to be shot down, or hit by a simple comet, falling star, Who knows but ART will be painted by the last person living!!!

  20. Walkable Main Street was a failed experiment except for those who wanted to turn the downtown into a Hub Grub. Supporters seem to wanted to live out some kind of selfish PBS pledge night fantasy, with little regard for the retail or any kind of diversity of merchants.

  21. Walkable Main Street has allowed businesses to survive. That is not a failed experiment. As for retail diversity, I have lived in Edmonds for 50 years and can name countless businesses that have come and gone over the years. People became mall shoppers and we have seen the exodus of retail in cities large and small. I worked in Seattle for over 20 years and the same story is true there. Countless retailers, large and small have left the market. Now we have become online shoppers. Restaurants and bars have websites, sharing their menus, their service options. Perhaps retailers need to step up to the plate and do the same. Particularly in a pandemic when we need to do all we can to support businesses while doing our best to avoid being a victim of a terrible disease.

  22. The ironic thing about all these varied comments is that the mayor and majority of the current council will ignore all the comments (except maybe the ones they agree with). Make sure to vote for true representative government if it’s important to you!

    1. I’d love to get to vote for true representative government but that option isn’t available to me or you the way the deck is stacked in Edmonds. There are only three truly non-partisan and public representing Coucil people working for us now and they get shot down by Mayor and Staff at every opportunity. Read elsewhere here how Dianne Buckshnis can’t even get information from staff about how money is spent for our special little projects forced on us by Mayor and uber loyal staff. It’s pathetic.

  23. I agree, we need the walkable main street to end. The parking and ability to get to the small stores is horrible. We have plenty of options for closed streets during the farmers markets. Open up the rest. Was a good idea to try this, but the city needs to admit it just didnt work.

    1. Absolutely not. I pay a big lease and taxes to have a gallery so I would never have to set up a booth again. Did it for the first 14 years of my career and built of my name and business big enough to open two galleries. I can not imagine having to come in two hours early to set up a tent, and then bring in extra staff to man it, and then stay two hours late to take it down. Can you? I should not have to set up in the street.

  24. I drove into downtown Edmonds last week for dinner and did a quick u-turn to leave. Those shacks that have somehow become auxiliary restaurants are a blight on Edmonds. First of all, I would never feel safe sitting in one and second, they are hideous and ruin an otherwise delightful town. No parking, no ambience, no charm. Meh. Makes Shoreline look good.

  25. Thanks for the comments by Don and Diane! I believe every time city employees, be they Parks or Public Works, are called upon to do things on the weekends that are not part of their regular scheduled jobs, we are paying overtime and a minimum of 3 hours per person per event. So, if they are called upon to set up the road blocks and tables that is one shift…and another when they come to take them down, regardless of the time they actually spend doing the work. Would be interesting to see the costs involved in WMS, both those covered by Economy Recovery funds as well as those that continue to come out of some other part of the city budget. I believe the purchase of tables and chairs that were used for WMS came out of the Economy Recovery funds. Agree with Diane, we need to have transparency! While I love much of what Edmonds does, I would like to see the breakdown of costs so we can all evaluate and see where our money is going.

  26. Long term plan lead by mayor, council, and chamber…

    Set one block (one and only one) as a walkable restaurant block. Maybe set a date two years ahead of time. Help the “non-restaurants” relocate to another block if they desire to move. Close the one block for the restaurants each weekend and maybe the (remember) the art walk night.

    This would make more sense.

    And to the comments ripping on Hodges you should be ashamed of yourself. A business owner that actually wants to have a store that people can see their work firsthand should always be encouraged, especially an artists. What is wrong with you people?

  27. Dear Randall Hodges,

    I simply want to thank you for speaking up. Especially in a climate where a lot of us feel we are not being heard – by our own mayor.

    I am going to come to your gallery to personally thank you for inspiring others to do the same.

    An Edmonds resident

  28. We live in the Bowl and seemed like most days that we walked down to WMS it seemed….dead. Sure we’re in a pandemic but, when you spread out what appeared to be a smaller number of people, downtown just seemed….dead. I’m sure the City can dissect sales taxes and manipulate an analysis to try and show that WMS was a success. What I’m more into though is a downtown that seems alive. Busy sidewalks project a better image of someplace you want and need to be compared to a sparse # of people sitting at cheap folding tables. Business 101 folks.

  29. Watching Rick on PBS is all the experience of Europe I need or want. The last thing I want to do is walk downtown and feel like I’m in Europe. I enjoy America and being American and “I want Edmonds back.”

    1. Having lived in Europe for a year, and having traveled there very frequently on business for 23 years, I totally agree with Clint. Those who like Europe more than Edmonds should move there.

    2. I agree with Clint, we need to return to having our town back. We taxpayers would like our sidewalks fixed, so we can walk without tripping. Get rid of the eating/drinking shacks! Open the streets to traffic/parking. We seem to only be catering to out-of-towners who come here to drink in the streets of Edmonds. The wood shacks are ugly, dangerous, and will eventually be involved in a lawsuit. We have “building codes” for a reason, to protect the public!

    3. I love walkable streets and wish they would extend it a few more blocks and every day of the week. I go downtown more and spend more. I stay longer and feel comfortable letting my kids be kids. I am not filled with constant fear that someone in a car may kill them. It makes the shopping more pleasant. The lack of toxic fumes to inhale makes dining and walking better. Data from around our region, country and the world proves without a doubt that businesses have more success on walkable streets. If there is any business suffering from this great program, perhaps, instead of compensating them for losses, we can offer a small payment for that merchant to move to a more appropriate location? Others will quickly take that spot in a vibrant place that respects people more than machines. God bless the council for thier courage in continuing this great program.

  30. Retail 101…you need excitement.
    If downtown saw a “bump” downtown it was because of the changes, and people are basically interested in what’s happening in downtown Edmonds. I believe what you need is a portable weekend whatever. Each store on the weekend gets their outdoor space. Blocking the street on weekends only. (You will need rules and Regulations.) Stores are responsible for set up and take down. You get together with Banks for LOW LOW interest loans to buy these portable set ups. City or Chamber of Commerice may even find people to set up and take down but the businesses have to pay for it. The Chamber could even “sell” any open space to another Edmonds retail business not located in bowl. Each weekend must have a theme of sorts. Antique-Vintage tables, artist, Halloween, Christmas, etc. you get excitement building. People are not buying retail because if this is a “walking” area who wants to carry bags of items you have bought they eat, drink etc. or items from market that have to be refrigerated. Midweek you can do other special events…I could go on and on. This town was set up on 2 things. Arts and Antiques, vintage. We lost the antique -Vintage stores and such and they brought in huge amount of people…they went to snohomish..it was a great mix. Vintage items. New women’s clothing stores, jewelry, Arts, Etc..rethink what made Edmonds good,,,Remember Edmonds downtown property is owned by only a handful of people. The rents are horrendous (like downtown Seattle.) Be abuse so few own the property they set the same price on rent. Some own entire blocks of downtown. I’m sure they didn’t go down in price for Covid.

    1. Oh my goodness! Do you really think merchants have the time, energy and resources to do “themed weekends?”. And whwould make the rules and how would you get everyone to agree. Edmonds is what it is today. The businesses that have left have gone either because it didn’t work for them, the found locations that worked better, they retired or went out of business! I’ve lived in Edmonds for 50 years and I’ve seen so many businesses come and go. I would also disagree that Edmonds was built on antiques and art. In the past there was a grocery store, a hardware store, a garage, a gas station, a men’s clothing store, a fabric store, a children’s shoe shop, a variety store, a pharmacy. Etc, etc! No sign of antiques or art shops.
      Things, people and times change. That is life and the evolution of the times.

    2. I do not rent a store front in Edmonds, just so I can set up in the street like I am at a street fair. I opened a gallery so I would never have to do that again. I would have to pay extra staff to rune it, come in early and leave late for set up and take down. Ridicules. I just want people to walk by my windows. It is what I pay for

    3. Hello Joy
      Would you be coming down every weekend two hours early and helping me set up a gallery in the street even though I already have a gallery that I pay a hefty price for? Would you return in the evening and help me break it all down and put it back in my gallery on Sunday? We already have an art festival every year. I know because I did it for 14 years in a row before i opened my gallery. I opened my gallery so I would never have to put up a tent again.

  31. I think the most helpful to the downtown community right now and the main need is a parking garage. As our town has grown and become popular with more housing being built and more people enjoying what our town has to offer, this is the main need. It would help everything all the way around. Yes, business will come and go. I love the restaurants in our town. It brings people in from other local areas and because of that, it will be helpful to all businesses. Our town is also a tourist town, due to the ferry. I agree with everyone here who voiced the fact that things change over time. It is the same everywhere. Once Covid is gone, things will be better, but we will still NEED available parking as our population grows…….. more than anything else.

  32. Comparing sales from a COVID year to sales without a pandemic is not appropriate. It is impossible to say whether sales were down because visitors avoided indoors settings, such as stores, due to the pandemic, or whether this was the impact of WMS.

    1. Nives, Restaurants have greater sales during COVID than before. I just appropriately compared pandemic sales verse regular year sales.

    2. Actually I can compare it to the customer counts and sales on the weekend this year before WMS started and after it finished. My weekends were good before the start of WMS. Then they were terrible during it. And now they are back now that WMS is over. That’s all the proof I need. If people don’t walk on the sidewalk and look in my windows, I have no business. It is that simple. If they walk 20 fee t out in the street I am invisible.

  33. Edmonds businesses do not just rely on local shoppers. From Spring to Christmas the bulk of the shopping is done by tourists. (Who do Not live in Edmonds.) in fact when I had a business there (still there) for 20 plus years most of the business was from tourism. Yes people came to shop for particular stores…the arts, antique and vintage shops pulled in more tourism. People do not come here for a particular grocery store or hardware store. (That’s why they aren’t here any more, not enough local business to pay the bills.) The tourists look for a place to park when they see how Edmonds was. If they can’t find one they drive along..or “we will come back some other time.” I heard those comments a hundred times if I heard it once. One regular customer actually called me and said she came to Edmonds but couldn’t find a parking place and drove back home. This started with Rick Steves idea of walking streets. If we had parking maybe it could work. We had asked for a parking lot for DECADES. We had parking groups to study if re-parking directions could help. (I was involved with 2.) it took DECADES to get a city restroom. Old Milltown stores were forced to pay that bill alone for years. About $3k a month..did the city help..no… now blocking the rest of retail store??

  34. Perhaps you don’t get out much but “those shacks” as you refer to them are not unique to Edmonds. They are in many towns and cities and not just in Washington or the US but UK and Europe in one fashion or another.

    They were fashioned to help businesses stay afloat and allow people to dine out as safely as can be expected while being protected from the elements. No argument that they are not beautiful but I for one am happy to see them knowing it helps people to earn a living by staying in business and employing others so they can earn a living and take care of the ones they love.

    I am shocked and bitterly disappointed at how short sighted and shallow people are in these difficult times. I’ve lived in Edmonds for 50 years and seen lots of comings and going’s of businesses. I would hate to see a mass exodus because people are offended by temporary but essential in hard times structure.

    1. The streateries are not the problems
      The closer of main street on the weekends are. Thanks for any support for any downtown merchant

    2. Susan, COVID didn’t invent outside dining. The Red Twig has it for example. Most cites have removed streateries. Several cities can’t remove them bc homeless people have moved into them.

    3. These hideous structures are a ugly blight on our town. All restaurants are open to 100% capacity. I’m in favor of leaving them up until the end of the year in an effort to make up dollars lost during the shut downs. After that, they need to come down. Appearance wise, it looked better when the smaller tables were on the sidewalks. There are ways to widen the sidewalks to accommodate the outside dining without the “chicken coops”.

  35. In the beginning when Rick Steves brought up Closing down the downtown core to make walkable, I thought it was a bad idea and I stated it then. Why? Because it stops the very shoppers coming to Edmonds to buy. Tourists. Per capita tourists were the best buyers for retail. No parking no buyers. And we have a bad parking problem. Been going on for years. Building shacks in front of other paying merchants..in essence blocking the visuals of their store is not right. I go back to when the chamber thought that car show downtown would bring shoppers. That bombed. Took the parking and tourists away from the downtown. They moved it to Francis Anderson and it worked for both. That is why the market is off a block or two…it’s about the parking…people aren’t cooking because of the plague. But there is currently more retail downtown than eateries. Tear down the shacks and help both out build a parking lot.

  36. If you are really going to play fair with this for all merchants, Reliable Floors should be allowed to build a showroom on the street in front of their brick and mortar shop to attract more traffic willing and able to climb their stairs. Garden Gear should be allowed to frame in their parking area out front to plant stuff and display yard art and maybe even add a little coffee stand to their venue. Ace Hardware should be allowed to put up tents in their parking lot and have a perpetual inventory reduction sale to attract more people to their grocery and deli where the big bucks are made. The theater could rope off their front parking and make a little junior Edmonds walk of fame with stars for people from Edmonds, like Rick Steves and Bridget Hanley. Who needs parking when you could have stuff like this by thinking out of the box a little? Go Edmonds!

    1. You got it
      Imaging an Edmonds were all the sales are done in the street instead of the building the businesses are in. Image if every business put up a shack to sell there goods. Then there would be no parking, and no people. Imagine how much more terrible Edmonds would look. But that would be fair. Instead, lets simplify and just put Edmonds back to Edmonds.

  37. Old time Edmonds (or Deadmonds in Earling speak) was a beautiful place. So sorry that many of you missed it and some of you even contributed to it’s demise by your later actions. I just count myself lucky I experienced some of it. Anyone else remember the old San Mateo real steam ferryboat or the ferry traffic backed up into downtown? The morning after a ferry failed to reverse and mangled the dock and everyone rushed down to see it? Remember cutting up driftwood for firewood on the beach and digging butter clams on the dog park beach? It was indeed a special place and still is; just not as special as back then. Too many people and too much wealth now.

  38. I also remember when we had all the stores and services you needed. A well-equipped doctor’s clinic, Crow Hardware, Englund’s stationary store (apologies if I misspell the name), Bull’s pharmacy (where the Santa Fe Grill now is), Dee’s burgers, the five-and-ten cent store – even great restaurants such as Henri de Navarre.

    We win some, we lose some – but you used to be able to do almost all your shopping in the bowl, largely from locally-owned stores. Of course, back then you could usually find a parking place…

  39. Susan Butler…actually when I owned a retail store on Saturdays it wasn’t uncommon to have 5-10 people in store regularly. ( pretty much all day.) not sure what they are doing now.. I remember when buses would to come to Edmonds filled with tourists..Tourists. That used to start for me April-May to December. Then slow Jan-April. We were dead 9-11. For about a month. Everyone at home watching TV. I also noticed, that local Edmonds citizens shopped downtown retail stores Jan-April. Then tourists came. That was my bread and butter.

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