Today I met with a group of individuals representing the Charlotte Center City Partners and the 7th Street Public Market. These individuals were Robert Krumbine, the SVP and CCCP Chief Creative Officer, Moira Quinn, the SVP and COO, and Chris Clouden, the Executive Market Director. They asked me to meet with them because they wanted “to go over the situation one more time”.
I feel that it is important that you all, as public stakeholders of the non-profit entity that is the 7th Street Public Market, hear with your own ears what I am experiencing from CCCP and the Market Management.
I want this situation to be resolved. I want the vendors of the 7th Street Public Market to be successful. I want the market to truly be an incubator for small businesses in Charlotte. But I do not believe that the way Market officials are handling my experiences- and the experiences of those who have come before me, which I have a LOT of evidence of- is creating an environment that can do so. Below you'll find some of my notes regarding the statements made throughout the above audio.
4:16 “Without having something to give us the real detail, we just wanna hear from you exactly the kind of things that Adam did…”
Why would they want me to repeat what I’ve already published? I have numerous instances of documentation which includes emails, texts, formal complaints, audio recordings, and a very lengthy blog post on my business website. Why do they need more? Either they want to try to trip me up and undermine me in a high-pressure situation, or they have not investigated this at all until this moment. Which is worse?
6:00 Regarding filing police reports: “…there was nothing there for us to act on… there isn’t a report for us to work with…” “I talked to the Captain of the Central Division on Thursday” “I know you filed them… We absolutely believe you”
I emailed the 7th Street Public Market management to inform them that I had filed a police report in January 2017. Why are they looking into this for the first time, more than one year later? If they truly had my best interests in mind, why did they not try to review the police report when I was speaking up and saying that I feared for my safety? Either they were being negligent or willfully ignorant. Which is worse?
8:49 “Clearly, we take you very seriously… the concern is that… we are hearing from both parties similar stories… Adam is also telling us very similar stories about harassment and so on…” and 11:48 “he claims that you’ve been saying that you’re going to continue to harass him…”
This is the first time that any representation from the market, or anyone for that matter, has told me that Adam is coming forward with “similar stories about harassment”. If this were the case, why didn’t the 7th Street Public Market Management address his concerns when they happened? Why did they wait to tell me about these alleged (and very vague, broad) complaints until now? Why was my alleged behavior never asked to change? Over the course of my lease, I was diligently presenting and documenting my complaints of harassment against Adam. When I did so, Chris told me that “Adam will be talked to” (and I have audio to prove this). If this is how the Market handles complaints, why was I never spoken to about my alleged harassment towards Adam until today? Again: have they been behaving negligently or under willful ignorance?
9:27 “We are the landlord of a space that simply is leasing space to businesses…”
The 7th Street Public Market management is not “simply leasing space to businesses,” and never has. All vendors/owners are required to adhere to numerous rules and regulations, including the amount of time that we are open and operating, the style/aesthetics in which we decorate our booths, and even the way we interact with one another as tenants. These are very clearly outlined in the “Tenant Handbook” that all vendors/owners receive when they sign their leases. To make the argument that the 7th Street Public Market management only has the capacity to lease space to businesses and cannot step in when there is a vendor dispute is beyond unreasonable, and easily disproven by the contents of their own handbook. Do they not know their own bylaws? Or do they merely enforce their bylaws and power when it serves them best?
11:28: “I think you know about the harassment training that has already been scheduled… it was for everyone, it was for the business owners and for management…”
So, this training? The vague email that was sent a month ago, directed towards vendors/owners with no mention of Market Management or CCCP employees participating?
13:33 “it’s [the aforementioned harassment training] been something that we’ve known that we needed to schedule…” “…we’re all thinking of that as something that’s needed. We know that it’s needed, so check that box.”
How did they know that they needed to schedule harassment training in the market? Think about it. What could have possibly been happening for years that would make them “know” that they “needed” to schedule harassment training?
14:00 “Chris has talked about a Code of Conduct…”
Over a year ago, Chris mentioned creating this alleged Code of Conduct. Why has it taken over a year for them to make this happen? Where is it? Why are they just taking action to make this happen now? It’s also worth mentioning that they did not give any concrete timelines to be creating this Code of Conduct, and they most certainly have not invited me to have a seat at this table in the forming of this document (which I feel I could be very helpful with).
16:07 “I’m sorry you feel that way”
I’ll just let you read this.
11:25 “We take your safety seriously…”
How are they taking steps to prove that? Did they investigate my claims in a timely manner? Did they create and/or enforce rules to prevent me from having to interact with Adam when I was conducting my business in the market? Since I’ve come forward with my story, have they prevented my assailant from being present on market property while I am there? Did they NOT post my name on a Facebook post, jeopardizing my safety while maintaining the anonymity of my assailant? Spoiler alert: no.
17:35 “anybody can do this online…”
They clearly do not believe in the validity of my claims, and the claims of others who have stepped up to share their experiences. How many people need to come forward before someone takes action to remove Adam from the market? I am going to include excerpts from individuals who have stepped forward to corroborate their similar experiences with Adam below.
- “As someone who has worked at 7th Street I can attest to how horrendous harassment is here.”
- “I was a vendor at 7th Street Market about 3-4 years ago and was both verbally and sexually harassed by Adam and his employees regularly. By the time I left I couldn’t wait to get out of that place, as it became very toxic to me. I had complained to the manager (it was someone different at the time) on more than one occasion and nobody gave a shit.”
- “I work at [vendor redacted] in the 7th Street Market and deal with these people on a daily basis… [Adam] has harassed most of our employees countless times…”
- “As a former employee at the 7th Street Market, I had many horrible run-ins with Adam Spears. It’s a shame he has gotten away with this for so long…”
I also have dozens of emails and correspondence from a business that previously operated within the 7th Street Public Market, who also encountered hostility from Adam, and had voiced their complaints to Market Management with no solutions until they were forced to move out of their booth. These complaints date back to as far as 2014.
Here’s the bottom line:
Adam Spears of Local Loaf has shown a consistent pattern of disrespect, intimidation and abuse to vendors and employees of the 7th Street Public Market. The 7th Street Public Market Management has been notified of his problematic behavior for years and has repeatedly turned a blind eye towards it. The 7th Street Public Market Management has shown that it does not prioritize the safety of the small businesses that work with them until the public puts pressure on them, and even then they put the onus on others to make it right for them.
If at this point you have not yet signed our petition, I urge you to do so. If you've already signed it, please share it! Let's work together to make a lasting change and to ensure that no one who works in the 7th Street Public Market ever has to deal with the hostile work environment that I and numerous others have experienced. I truly want to see the businesses in the market thrive, but that can't happen if something doesn't change with the way Market Management operates.