In what it calls an "unprecedented move," the city of Canton has canceled the April edition of First Monday Trade Days which would have run from April 2-5.
According to a Facebook post, the cancellation is due to the coronavirus.
"The city of Canton has been monitoring the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic," the post says. "The safety of our citizens, vendors, visitors, and employees remains our highest priority."
"Closing First Monday due to COVID-19 was a hard decision because it supports more than 1,000 entrepreneurs and local merchants who rely on this market for their livelihood," it says. "But, we feel closing the April 2-5, 2020 Trade Days is in the best interest of our local community and the thousands of folks who come from all over the country to sell and shop at First Monday, Canton. We want to help fight the spread of this virus and hope you join us in our efforts."
The closure is rare; First Monday Trade Days has been open every month without fail for 170 years, no matter the weather or conditions. They call themselves "the oldest and largest old-fashioned outdoor shopping venue where people can come and meet face to face to buy, sell and trade goods."
"After we are cleared to re-open, we want to encourage anyone and everyone to come back out to First Monday to support the artisans and vendors that provide the unique products who have been First Monday’s specialty since the 1850s," they say.
Here's a thought: How about, after being cleared to re-open, they shut down the notorious "Dog Alley"?
Dog Alley is where more than 25 breeders of dogs and fowl are sold, and was part of a 2015 investigation by the Humane Society of the United States linking flea markets to cruel puppy mills.
Dog Alley was one of 21 flea markets that HSUS visited, which found dogs confined in rusty wire cages no bigger than a rabbit hutch, kept outdoors in chain link pens covered with feces, and with zero human contact.
A vendor at Dog Alley said, "There are more dogs that die from here from parvo than anything else."
HSUS said that vendors admitted on hidden camera that dealers ditch dogs. "One vendor said unsold dogs are set loose if they are not sold at the end of the market day," said HSUS' report. Many of the flea markets HSUS visited are in rural areas full of stray dogs, with no shelter to take in abandoned pets.
Dog Alley is rife with vendors like Vicky Patrick and Darlene Broseh, of Canton, found guilty of cruelty to animals after a 2018 intervention by the SPCA found 71 dogs in their single-wide trailer of which 11 were wrapped in plastic bags in a kitchen freezer; the rest suffered from fur loss, long nails, eye issues, ear issues, matted fur and more.
The city of Canton owns the Trade Days property, and claims it does not allow animals there. But Dog Alley is part of the market's website.
Canton and the market have been petitioned repeatedly by animal advocates requesting that the city shut down animal sales or at least improve the conditions, but with no response.
Hey Canton, here's your chance.