Legacy vendors say being relocated by the city caused their business to fail

RICHMOND, Va. -- Two Richmond sisters are saying goodbye to their stand at the 17th Street Farmers Market in Shockoe Bottom after more than 70 years.

Growing up, Evelyn Allen and Rosa Fleming went to work with their dad who ran a produce stand. The sisters said it was the highlight of their day.

Fast forward decades later, four generations of family members have fed the Richmond community from the stand at the corner of Franklin and 17th streets.

The two well-known women, lovingly called 'the sisters' by customers who have known them for years, say the business is in a tight spot.

They blame it on being displaced four years ago when the city renovated the 17th Street Farmers Market and both women say they were shown three different sketches of where they could be housed when the work was done and they were allowed by the city to go back.

Evelyn Allen and Rosa Fleming

“They never did. That’s why we’ve got to let the people know what they’re doing to us,” said Fleming.

Fleming says they ended up on the outskirts of the 17th Street Farmers Market.

Loyal customers have been following the sisters’ plight closely.

“They know a lot about this community. They are staples here. I don’t think it’s fair that they have to set up over here when the 17th street market is over there,” said one customer.

“It’s so important because we love this. We do it because we love what we do. We want to continue it. We would love for our children to go on with our legacy but the way it seems though, the city doesn’t want that to happen. By not giving us our houses and not giving us something in writing letting us know we can continue on at the market,” said Fleming.

They say their business has been flailing since being relocated and in a letter to the city’s director of economic development, the two explained the negative financial impact it has had.

The sisters requested the city compensate them $36,000 each for what they call lost legacy vendor benefits and loss of income.

“We just can’t take it anymore. We not making any money… nobody can see us on the corner to buy it. Who can see us from the market on this corner over here? Nobody!” said Fleming.

The sisters say recently they were told that the city would take 90 days to figure out what the next step would be concerning their relocation back to the 17th Street Farmers Market.

CBS 6 reached out to the director of economic development several times Monday. We are awaiting a response.

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