An ongoing saga regarding the implementation of additional permits and fees charged to Brimfield Week vendors seemingly went by the wayside this past Monday, January 7, as the town’s board of selectmen decided not to increase the $30 vendor’s fee charged by the town and not to pursue the enforcement of a state issued “transient vendor” license.
The licensing issue had reached a controversial stage during last month’s selectmen’s meeting when the enforcement of a 48-year-old heretofore ignored state law requiring “transient vendors” to obtain a state permit prior to conducting business in Massachusetts was proposed. Known as a transient vendors license and enforced by the Division of Standards, it required out-of-state vendors to purchase an annual $100 permit and to post a compulsory $500 bond payment.
A transient vendor is defined as “any person, either principal or agent, who engages in a temporary or transient business in the commonwealth selling goods, wares or merchandise, either in one locality or in traveling from place to place.”
Brimfield board of selectmen Chairman Stephen Fleshman indicated during the December selectmen’s meeting that the issue had been thoroughly researched and he further commented that the town would be violating state law if it did not require vendors to purchase the transient vendors license.
Town Clerk Pamela Beal disagreed with Fleshman stating she was in possession of a letter dated July 1, 2004, from Charles H. Carroll, assistant director of standards for the state office of Consumer Affairs, indicating that flea market vendors are not required to purchase the state permit.
Several Brimfield market promoters also spoke in opposition of enforcing the state regulation and the issue was ultimately tabled, to be continued at the January meeting.
Carroll, however, stated in a recent telephone interview, “Any seller at an indoor flea market would be required to have both a state and local transient vendor’s license. Any seller at an outdoor flea market, if the business was conducted in a tent or booth, would also have to have a state and local transient vendor’s license.”
Further confusion for promoters and dealers arises from the language of the regulation as it defines “transient business” as involving the “exhibition and sale of goods&†carried on in a tent, booth, building or other structure.” This has led to questions regarding the requirement of a permit for dealers that set up in the open and do not utilize a tent or canopy.
Brimfield should not be the only venue singled out for enforcement, states David M. Lamberto of Hertan’s Antique Show, citing similar events at the Eastern State Exposition, and other antiques shows. “Do they want to diminish not only Brimfield show promoters whose livelihood this is, or cause a diminishment to the whole state economy?” he queried.
Lamberto added that pending legislation, in the form of House Bill 288, would at least shift the burden for state licensing requirements onto the shoulders of Brimfield’s show promoters by amending the law. “Not only is there a financial impact on the individual dealers, but it’s also cumbersome for them to deal with the paperwork,” he said. “The pending legislation would solve that problem in my mind by having the promoter licensed and then requiring him to maintain agreements with the individual vendors.”
At the selectmen’s meeting this past Monday, the board agreed that the town should not attempt to enforce the state law at this time, with Fleshman stating they will continue with current policy unless the state stops them.