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Threatening event shutdown, chamber

WARRENSBURG - Local chamber of commerce officials said Feb. 23 they'd be taking action soon to protect revenue from spaces they rent out for the World's Largest Garage Sale to avoid having to abandon their sponsorship of the event - which is one of the largest of its kind in the nation.

Citing a migration of World's Largest Garage Sale vendors onto private property - a trend that's been eroding the chamber's income in recent years - chamber officials said they'll be lobbying the town board, seeking a 50 percent increase in the fees the town charges to vendors who rent out from landowners in the core area of town during the event.

Soon after they met Feb. 23 with Main Street landowners to find a solution to their sagging income, Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce President Lynn Smith and Vice President Dennis Martinez said they'd be asking the town board for an increase in the town independent vendor fee from $20 to $30.

Smith warned that the chamber would abandon their traditional sponsorship of the immensely popular event if some change wasn't made to shore up the chambers profit.

This nationally known event annually draws 70,000 to 100,000 people into the county on the first weekend in October to browse for bargains. It is one of the largest events of any kind in Warren County.

Smith cited figures showing a trend of ballooning expenses and shrinking revenues, the latter primarily due to vendors seeking to bypass the chamber-sponsored vendor plots - rented out for Saturday and Sunday only during the Sale- and setting up on private land.

During the past decade, vendors have spread from chamber plots onto private land, primarily on North Main St., citing less expensive space rentals, the ability to set up for three or more days rather than being limited to just two, and more flexibility in space. In 2008, the chamber rented only 152 of their 260 available spaces, compared to renting 189 of their 263 spaces in 2007.

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