Business Matters

Business Matters

Later Market

The Old Town Farmers Market is about to get a little later. This week, members of the Alexandria City Council voted to approve an amendment to the farmer’s market regulations to change the hours. Instead of beginning at 5:30 a.m., the market will open at 7 a.m. And instead of closing at 11 a.m., the market will close at noon. City officials say the change is based on a survey conducted of vendors, customers and businesses.

“The overwhelming information that came back indicates that our time preference for a start time was 7 a.m. and our preference for an end time was noon,” said Jeremy McPike, director of General Services. “When we looked at our businesses throughout King Street, roughly 80 percent indicated that they felt the extension of hours was positive because it was more commensurate with their hours of operations.”

The Old Town Farmers Market is a tradition dating back to 1752, the oldest continuously operating market in the country. In February 1992, City Council members approved policy amendments to provide a framework for the composition, governance and management of the farmers market. Back in September, Councilwoman Alicia Hughes suggested that she was hearing from some vendors and customers that the market could be open later. The idea was met with resistance.

“We should not make this decision based on whether or not some members of council feel like getting up at 6 o’clock,” Councilman Paul Smedberg said at the time. “In fact, it’s quite busy at 6 o’clock.”

So the city conducted a survey that included 72 vendors, 153 customers and 62 local businesses. The results showed that 58 percent of vendors and customers preferred changing or extending the hours. An overwhelming 77 percent of local businesses and 73 percent of customers favored keeping the market open later. The effort passed with a unanimous vote Tuesday night, and city officials hope to institute the new hours in May.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Hughes.

Another Ponzi Scheme

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

That was a difficult lesson more than 700 businesses and 600 individuals this week at the Alexandria federal courthouse. That’s where a 10-year, $7 million Ponzi scheme unraveled this week as 58-year-old David Allen Maloy was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

“Since the creation of Ponzi schemes, the FBI has investigated con artists and fraudsters who prey upon unwitting investors,” said James McJunkin, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington office, in a written statement. “Through a series of lies and deceptions, David Maloy set up and operated a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme that hurt hundreds of businesses and individuals across the country.”

It all started in 2003, when Maloy created Cash Rewards, a Texas company that marketed an advertising tool to retail businesses that could be used to attract prospective customers with a time-deferred, mail-in cash rewards certificate. The web of deceit attracted numerous retailers in Virginia and across the country, including real-estate agents, boat dealers and automobile salesmen. The house of cards collapsed after Cash Rewards declared bankruptcy in 2009.

“To make matters worse, he lavished himself and his friends with cars, jewelry and other luxury items until his complex Ponzi scheme all unraveled,” said U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride in a written statement. “This 10-year sentence demonstrates that crimes of this size, scope and impact will be met with serious consequences.”

A New Recession

Think we’re out of the doldrums yet? Think again. Business license tax revenue is down. Recordation tax revenue is down. Revenue from the federal government is down. Debt service is up.

“While there is no consensus of economists,” wrote City Manager Rashad Young in a recent financial report, “the Economic Cycle Research Institute predicts that a new recession is inevitable, despite improvement in high-profile economic indicators.”