City Flea Market Vendors Get Break On License Fees

OCEAN CITY – Town officials this week agreed to waive the
business license requirement for vendors at the weekly flea market on the
Worcester Street parking lot, at least in the short term, while logistical
issues can be worked out and a good barometer of the demand for the sites can
be gauged.

Last week, the Ocean City Mayor and Council approved the
return of the flea market at the Worcester Street lot, reviving an old resort
tradition conducted at the Convention Center parking lot for decades. The idea
is to bring more people into the downtown area on weekend mornings and
afternoons in the summer with much of the proceeds dedicated to the Downtown

The flea market will be held on Saturday and Sunday
throughout the summer, with the exception of holiday weekends, from 7 a.m. to 1
p.m. Half of the municipally-owned Worcester Street lot will be dedicated to
the flea market with vendors paying $10 for a parking space in which to display
their wares. The types of merchandise offered at the flea market will be
limited to handmade arts and crafts, used goods, antiques and the like so as
not to conflict with other merchants in the area.

When the council approved the use of the parking lot for
the flea market last week, it appeared that every detail had been addressed.
This week, however, it came to light vendors at the flea market would be
required to get a temporary business license in order to participate. Downtown
Association officials and their liaison on the council, Jim Hall, asked if the
business license requirement could be waived, at least in the short term until
the bugs are worked out of the new enterprise.

The belief is that many of the vendors will decide the day
of the event if they want to participate that week, based on the weather,
anticipated crowds and other factors, and obtaining a business license from
City Hall at 6 a.m. on a Saturday could be difficult if not impossible. A
one-day business license would cost $9 on top of the $10 the vendors would have
to pay for the use of the site. An annual business license could also be
purchased for $114.

While the council supports the concept of the flea market
and voted to approve it last week, there was reluctance among some to waive the
business license requirement for the vendors.

Mayor Rick Meehan said he was already a little concerned
with the potential impact on existing merchants in the area and added waiving
the business license fee might exacerbate the problem.

“This thing evolved quickly and it probably should have
had some more review and discussion,” he said. “I’m more than a little apprehensive
about this. I hope it is used as a conduit to get people downtown, but I think
you’re going to see the merchants looking out and seeing all these people at
the flea market and not in their stores.”

However, Hall said the vendors would not likely be averse
to paying for the temporary licenses, but there were logistical issues to work
out such as where and when they can purchase them. He urged the council to
temporarily suspend the business license requirement until those issues are

“If we can report back to you, even in as little as four
weeks, we’ll be able to tell you ‘here’s what we ran into, here’s what is
working and here’s what’s not working,’” he said.

With that said, Councilwoman Mary Knight made a motion to
temporarily waive the business license requirement for the new flea market at
the Worcester Street parking lot only until July 1, which is the start of the
new fiscal year, allowing the event organizers to better gauge the demand from
both vendors and visitors. The council unanimously approved the motion.