INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis City Market has a new executive director. Keisha Gray started this week. She joins as merchants continue to face several challenges and businesses inside continue to close.
The pandemic has taken a major toll on foot traffic as people continue to work from home, rather than in office space downtown. Over the past few months, we’ve also told you about other issues at City Market including loitering, crime and road construction right outside on Market Street.
“I've been here for 32-years and did great and all of a sudden things changed. It just died,” said Lily Stockton. She owns Just Cookies inside the City Market. “We have had ups and downs no doubt about it, but never like this.”
Stockton pointed out the empty merchant spaces. The one right across from her now vacant as well. The business there, 3 Days in Paris Crepes, just closed days ago.
“We are very much looking forward to figuring out how else we can utilize the space, especially during COVID times. You know, we're going to have to rethink a lot of things. We can’t be the big gathering place that it once was,” said Keisha Gray, new Executive Director of the Indianapolis City Market.
When asked about specific plans, Gray said she is still working to figure those out.
“What we specifically can do has yet to be determined, especially because each merchant has their own individual needs,” said Gray.
She said her first priority right now is meeting with the current business owners. “I know that there are a few merchants that have some ideas. I've been made aware that they have ideas, not just for their own business, but for things that can help all of the merchants and we certainly want to tap into that,” said Gray.
Gray said she will also look into bringing finance or marketing experts in to work directly with business owners.
“If it’s cash flow, perhaps we can bring someone in who can teach them about restaurateur cash flow. If it’s getting customers in the door, then maybe it’s not how to strengthen the City Market name, but their name as well and perhaps we can bring in someone to provide them with some marketing support. So again, it’s very individual for each individual merchant, but certainly we do hope to have some processes in place that will benefit everyone,” said Gray.
Gray recently worked as the Executive Director of the Broadview Public Library District in the Chicago area. A copy of her offer letter from the board of the Indianapolis City Market shows a salary of $91,000 plus benefits.
Gray said she hopes to use her library experience to bring new life to the market.
“At the end of the day everything is about connecting people with the space,” said Gray. “What I'm hoping that the city market returns to is that foodie destination that people will travel all over the country to come to.”
Those at the market say they hope that happens. “At this point hope is all that we have. We have to hope that she can help us get on our feet again,” said Stockton.