This past July, the Bainbridge Island Farmers Market surprised its usual visitors by allowing a corporate company to set up shop.
Representatives of Oral-B toothbrushes visited July 20 and have since sparked conversation among Bainbridge city officials over the market's lease agreement with the city.
At this week's study session, the city council will discuss what steps should be taken toward enforcing the stipulations set in the lease.
According to the terms and conditions of the contract, which has not been updated since 2001, the farmers market is to use the Town Square to hold a weekly market where local vendors can showcase produce, vegetation, food items and arts and crafts.
If market officials wish to use the leased premises for any other purpose, the agreement states, they must receive written consent from the city.
Typically, market protocol does not permit non-local corporations to have a presence at its Saturday events. Market officials, however, decided to make an exception for Oral-B.
The market visit was one stop during Oral-B's visit to the island to film material for a new toothbrush commercial. But the company's appearance at the Bainbridge farmers market led to complaints from other vendors and customers at the weekly event, who noted that the primary purpose of the market is to promote local goods and produce.
Following the visit to the farmers market, the company held a promotional event at Manual Road, located at the north end of the island. The company selected several cities throughout the nation that have streets named Manual Road or Manual Drive. Their commercial will encourage people to "power up" and switch from a regular toothbrush to a powered toothbrush.
Tim O'Brien, the manager of the Bainbridge Island Farmers Market, defended the decision to allow Oral-B's presence at the market.
O'Brien explained that not only was the farmers market a fitting introduction to the character of the community for the company, but the Oral-B visit meant additional business for local vendors. The Monday following Oral-B's visit to the market, O'Brien apologized in a letter to the editor to anyone offended by the visit.
The toothbrush tussle has prompted another item on tonight's council agenda. Councilwoman Debbi Lester will lead a conversation on the use of city-owned property in television commercials.
The council meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 21 at city hall.