Swap Meet vendors frustrated over configuration change

Swap Meet vendors frustrated over configuration change

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - You can find products of all kinds at the Aloha Stadium swap meet but behind the scenes you will have trouble finding agreement between vendors and management.

Tec Ventures Hawaii, Hawaiian Doll Clothes and Creative Photo Frames are three businesses that have been selling their wares at the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet for years and they don't like the direction management is going.

The swap meet has a circular flow for foot traffic. Centerplate management will move the food court and put it inside the stadium. The customers would be funneled into the concession area from section 6 and brought out at section 9 which could mean the vendors in sections 7 and 8 would get skipped.

"They're giving precedence to their own food contract so it's like a self licking ice cream cone," said Tom Cooney, Tec Ventures Hawaii and a Swap Meet vendor.

"I don't think they care about us. I have that feeling," said Lani Tumaneng, Hawaiian Ono Clothes and Swap Meet vendor.

"We're always at odds with them and it's kind of a difficult relationship at best," said John Parker, Creative Photo Frames and Swap Meet vendor.

Vendors also accuse Centerplate of a conflict of interest because the company holds the contract for both the Swap Meet and the food and beverages. Vendors claim there is no one at the table to advocate for them.

"It would be like the Mayor and Governor being the same person," said Cooney.

"The state board and Centerplate are kind of in bed together," said Parker. "All the policies they have, they have meetings but we're kind of excluded from that. So we have little input and a lot of us have are very distrustful of them because we pay the rent here."

Permanent vendors pay $70 a day for a 320 square foot stall. Vendors not there routinely pay $100 a day. Aloha Stadium Management says there are about 600 stalls available. There are 300-400 vendors who consistently renew and another 200 who come on a more infrequent basis.

Centerplate agrees vendors in sections 7 and 8 could take a hit and offered to move them. However the vendors declined. They'd rather Centerplate not mess with the flow saying customers don't come for the food, they come for the shopping.

"They've never had good food here even though they have the food contract they've always had the worst food," said Tumaneng.

"Without us there is no swap meet. Without the swap meet there are no customers. They're not going to come for the food court," said Cooney.

The State did approve the reconfiguration saying it makes sense because there wasn't enough electricity or water under the tent where the food is now in the parking lot. Aloha Stadium Management issued the following statement:

"This decision falls within the terms and conditions of the current food and beverage contract. The decision was discussed and approved by stadium management. After this decision was made, stadium management and Centerplate Swap Meet management concurred on scheduling a special meeting with the swap meet vendors to inform them of the move and get feedback on what the best course of action would be for the swap meet. This meeting was held on Wednesday, May 29. The vendors stated that they do not want to reconfigure the stalls despite Centerplate stating their concerns for the vendors located in sections 7 and 8 due to the customer traffic that may lead into the North Plaza for restrooms and concessions and bypass these vendors. The vendors stated that they still wanted to remain in their areas and suggested that Centerplate cease stall sales in the areas that lead into the North Plaza area. That decision is being evaluated by both Centerplate and stadium management."

In regard to the conflict of interest claim Aloha Stadium Management wrote:

"This concern has been identified and addressed. A conflict of interest claim is unjustified since the contracts are separate and solicited separately within the State procurement regulations. Stadium management is comfortable with the fact that Centerplate has two separate managers for the Food and Beverage contract and the Swap Meet contract and are treated as such."

The changes with the food court are scheduled to begin the end of July or early August.

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