Sales, visits surge at Milwaukee Public Market in 2015

Vendor sales increased 20 percent

Milwaukee Public Market
The Milwaukee Public Market.

Sales and foot traffic at the Milwaukee Public Market surged in 2015.

Milwaukee Public Market
The Milwaukee Public Market.

Statistics released by the market today show a 20 percent increase in vendor sales, from nearly $12 million in 2014 to about $14.4 million last year. Customer visits rose by 10 percent, from 1.25 million in 2014 to 1.4 million in 2015.

Since the Milwaukee Public Market opened its doors 10 years ago, vendor sales have nearly tripled.

Paul Schwartz, operations and communication manager, said the public market has been on a “remarkable pattern of growth,” and sales now exceed $1,000 per square foot.

The market is operated by the Historic Third Ward Association, a nonprofit partly financed by a nine-member quasi-government body formed in 1988 called Business Improvement District No. 2. The public market is owned by the business improvement district.

BID members are property owners in the district appointed by the mayor and approved by the common council.

Schwartz said the public market is “financially solvent,” and does not require public tax dollars to operate.

“If there’s a surplus in revenue at the end of the year, it’s all invested back into the market operation,” Schwartz said. “Capital improvements, infrastructure, things like that.”

Ron San Felippo, chairman of BID No. 2, said increases in vendor sales and visitors do not necessarily mean an increase in revenue for market operations.

“Vendors are all on leases of different lengths and terms and then they pay common area maintenance costs,” San Felippo said. “The market doesn’t participate in their sales and the rents they pay are not dependent on sales.”

Detailed information on the Public Market’s 2015 financial performance will not be available until February, San Felippo said.

Schwartz said the building itself is expensive to maintain and operate, “but it’s financially stable.”

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Ben Stanley, former BizTimes Milwaukee reporter.

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