World Games vendor upset over lack of profit

World Games vendor upset over lack of profit
Published: Aug. 26, 2022 at 7:26 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - There’s new frustration from some local World Games vendors. One vendor feels the World Games overpromised and underdelivered to the vendors. She’s now in the hole tens of thousands of dollars.

At first, Tracey Kennedy had high hopes the World Games would increase her business’ bottom line. But she says that didn’t happen by a long shot.

Kennedy owns California Country organics. “In that 11 days, I made roughly $3,000,” she said.

She was hoping to make at least $35,000. Multiple vendors telling us they were told the World Games would attract upwards of 300,000 people.

“Then to not even make $500 a day. It was damaging not just to the vendors that were there. That we had to work hard to be there. It was devastating blow for small businesses across the city,” Kennedy said.

Last week, we learned more than a dozen local businesses and vendors have not been paid for their work during the world games. Event officials say the massive 11-day competition left behind a $14-million deficit. This week, Birmingham city council voting to give $5 million in tax payer dollars to help close the deficit. World Games CEO Nick Sellers says the city will get things in return.

“This additional investment that we are requesting will provide ongoing value as the organizing committee shares all of the data and information and best practices that you have heard about today,” Sellers said to city council earlier this week.

Kennedy says she spent her life savings on the World Games. The whole experience is leaving her and other vendors with many unanswered questions.

“It was just one of those things where had they just said, you know what numbers have gone down, we have to be realistic about this and been honest, we as a city could have better prepared,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy did get a $2,000 refund on vendor fees but she feels that’s not enough.

World Games leaders believe the international event has still done more good than bad. They believe the coming economic impact numbers will show that. Still, they stress these large events typically don’t make a profit.

We received this statement from the Birmingham Organizing Committee:

“Regrettably, the Birmingham Organizing Committee wasn’t given an opportunity to initially comment on this story. But we appreciate the follow up opportunity. The Merchant’s Market was an attempt by the Birmingham Organizing Committee’s Community Engagement Team to help support local vendors and give them an opportunity to sell their products.

To the extent projections were made on attendance to a prospective Merchant’s Market vendor, it was based on expectations from previous World Games and tickets sold/distributed to date. We’ve been clear, even back on July 13 during the initial report of some vendors in the Merchant’s Market who weren’t satisfied, that we would refund their vendor fee upon request. And we indeed did refund every vendor fee requested.

Many vendors made the decision to continue on with us after we heard their complaints about lack of foot traffic and sales and moved them to a higher traffic location during The Games. And many saw their sales significantly improve. The Birmingham Organizing Committee marketed The World Games Plaza and Merchant’s Market on all of our platforms. But we couldn’t control the hot weather, daily attendance in The Plaza, and other factors including public interest and demand for each vendor’s product that might have led to less than expected sales for a specific vendor.”

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