City Market's renewal strategy may make or break vendors

January 5, 2009
New executive director Jim Reilly has high hopes of rejuvenating City Market. As IBJ reported Dec. 22, Reilly wants to use themed events, corporate activity and word-of-mouth marketing to make the 123-year-old historic landmark a vibrant downtown destination for foodies.

City Market vendors are counting on him. And, given the state of the economy, Reilly has months, not years, to show them results.

Take Constantino's Market Place, for example. Its roots go all the way back to 1911. The small business closed in 1996, but the Mascari family brought it back to the City Market in November 2007, encouraged that $2.7 million in renovations would attract crowds.

Today Constantino's offers fresh fruits and vegetables, just as it always did, as well as an Italian deli flush with meats, cheeses and olive oil. There are pastries, cannoli and gelato to satisfy a sweet tooth. And Constantino's is hoping to introduce catering soon.

"We'd like to see all [Reilly's] new ideas come to fruition," said Antonia Mascari, Constantino's vice president of marketing and sales. She runs the stand along with her mother and sister Theresa and Concetta Mascari. "We'd love to see people come in and see the market thrive again, like it used to,"

Lunch traffic is good, Antonia Mascari said, but there's not much business the rest of the time.

The next few months will make or break Constantino's, Antonia Mascari said. The family would love to stay in the City Market, just as previous generations did. But if business doesn't pick up soon, it will consider moving Constantino's to its own storefront elsewhere.

"It's very vital that [Reilly's plans] happen," Antonia Mascari said. "We've been here for a year. We thought we'd be in a different place."
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