There’s an interesting piece in the Daily News about the behind the scenes struggle at Reading Terminal Market between management and tenants. Although the political skullduggery that’s pretty commonplace at RTM is only hinted at here, there’s a wealth of background on RTM chairman Ricardo Dunston:
“No one in the market” has a lifetime lease, said Dunston, who has managed the Gallery, the Shops at Liberty Place and concessions at Philadelphia International Airport… Market management has clashed for several years with Olivieri - who, until recently, served as head of the merchants association - and other longtime vendors. Dunston wants to make the market competitive with places like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. Many merchants feel they should get more say over how the market is operated. “I understand that we’re tenants there,” said Michael Holoman, who operates the Pennsylvania General Store and is the interim head of the merchants association. “But anybody who knows the Reading Terminal Market knows there are tenants who took the place from an embarrassment and an eyesore to a vibrant business. “How can you tell those people they’re tenant farmers?”
Dunston doesn’t see it that way. He said he had not dealt with vendors like this at other shopping locations.
“The big difference is the entitlement that some merchants seem to have and the complete unwillingness of people to look at the factual situation,” he said. Dunston also thinks he’s giving the merchants a fair shake. He said the contract agreed upon with the merchants association in October sets rents for lunch merchants at 10 percent of their gross sales. (They used to pay 4 percent to 6 percent.) Dunston said the standard rent in a mall would start at 10 percent to 12 percent of gross sales… Dunston, who has given substantial campaign contributions to Mayor Street and Gov. Rendell, was brushed with controversy once before, when concession management at the airport came under scrutiny because of the influence the late fundraiser Ron White, who was later indicted. White’s widow and girlfriend both benefited from airport deals. Dunston has never been accused of wrongdoing in relation to the airport concessions.”
Funny, we already thought Reading Terminal was competitive with Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. But if there’s more cash to be made…