OCEAN CITY –The flea market will be returning to Ocean City again this summer, but instead of setting up shop in the Worcester Street parking lot, vendors will be selling their treasures at the 65th Street Public Safety Building parking lot.
The flea markets were held at the Convention Center parking lot for many years with much success, but came to an end with the construction of the current Convention Center. In an effort to revitalize downtown and increase foot traffic, the council approved the return of the flea market last year. The flea market, held on Saturdays and Sundays, was held in the Worcester Street parking lot last summer, with proceeds from vendor fees dedicated to the Downtown Association.
“It didn’t work out that well because we had to stop by one o’clock in the afternoon,” said Downtown Association President Tom Allen. Vendors were forced to pack up and be out of the parking lot by 1 p.m. last year in an effort to make room for beach traffic. According to Allen, the flea market was usually beginning to thrive by mid-day when the vendors would have to begin packing up their things.
To provide for more hours and a better venue, Allen suggested moving the operation to 65th Street, with proceeds still being dedicated to the Downtown Association. The flea market will initially be held on Saturdays only this year. “If it’s successful than we will go for Sunday,” said Allen.
“I just wish there was a place to do it downtown,” said Council member Lloyd Martin.
Allen explained that with limited parking already in the downtown sector, there is no viable area where vendors could set up during peak weekend hours.
“I think your idea of moving up there for exposure will help the promotion of downtown, even though its not downtown,” said Council member Jay Hancock.
Council member Mary Knight suggested that posters, advertising downtown events, be displayed at the 65th Street flea markets in an effort to promote downtown.
“I thought the flea market was a good idea for downtown, it was about bringing people downtown. Personally I’m not in favor of moving it to the Public Safety lot,” said Mayor Rick Meehan.
Meehan also pointed out the potential impact that a mid-town flea market could have on uptown retailers. “You’ll probably hear from the retailers throughout town if it’s moved up there.”
“The things that the vendors have, you’re not going to find at any of the stores in Ocean City,” said Allen.
Allen requested that the flea market be given operation hours of 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. while Meehan suggested shortening the time from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Council member Jim Hall urged the council to allow for the vendors to operate from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., pointing out how long it takes vendors to set up and pack up. Hall also noted that farmers market vendors had expressed an interest in participating, but would require a wider time frame for business.
“You do have a couple of produce stands uptown, it would be in direct competition with them uptown and the retailers uptown,” said Martin.
The council voted six in favor, with Council member Martin in opposition, to approve the flea market at 65th Street, with hours of operation from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays this summer.