Business Buzz: Fee hike prompts some market booths to stay away

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Hollister resident Chris Sypek looks through some giant fava beans at the Swank Farms stand Wednesday afternoon at the farmers market. The health permit fees increased this year for vendors.

The San Benito County Environmental Health Department has been gradually jacking up health inspection fees for booths at the Hollister Downtown Farmers Market, and now some of those previous participants have said enough is enough.
    The 26th farmers market kicked off two weeks ago and runs through September. This year, there are 73 booths committed to taking part.
    But with the health inspection fee this year hitting a new high as year five in a five-year incremental increase – the fee is $402 this year, up from $358 last year and nearly double the fee from four years ago – Market Manager Tammy Jackson said some businesses have stayed away.
    Jackson pointed to a taco stand, Casa de Fruta, Gizdich Ranch and a bakery that declined due to the fees.
    “It’s kind of frustrating because we could have more booths, but they just can’t afford the fees,” Jackson said.
Look for an expanded story in Tuesday’s Free Lance.

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