Flea Market Opening Exceeds Expectations

OCEAN CITY – The beautiful weather and the energy of the holiday weekend brought success to the city flea market in the Worcester Street parking lot last weekend.

Vendors and shoppers gathered in the downtown Worcester Street parking lot Saturday and Sunday to sell, shop, and enjoy the nearly perfect weekend weather.

The weekend marked the opening of the flea market, which was recently approved by the City Council. Although debate occurred over the location of the market, it seems the final choice is working well, according to officials.

The City Council originally chose the downtown lot in hopes of bringing more people to the area in the morning and afternoon hours of summer. The idea of reviving the flea market was inspired by the popular flea markets that were held in the Convention Center parking lot for decades.

Once the location was approved, it was decided to charge the flea market vendors a $10 fee. There has been debate over whether the vendors should pay the additional $9 fee for a one-day business license. The decision was made by the City Council to waive the business license fee until the fiscal year begins July 1 and until the kinks of the new venture are worked out.

The flea market will be held every weekend through the summer. Vendors will be in the Worcester Street lot every Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. with the exception of holiday weekends.

The flea market will be offering a variety of merchandise. Items such as handmade arts and crafts, used goods and antiques will be sold. The merchandise presented will be limited so as not to conflict with merchandise being sold by nearby businesses.

Most of the proceeds of the flea market are being dedicated to the Downtown Association. The City Council approached the Downtown Association about the project in hopes that the Downtown Association could use the money for other downtown projects.

Councilman Jim Hall, the liaison between the council and the Downtown Association, said he was pleased with the flea market’s first weekend.

“We had a beautiful weekend, a great crowd, and everything went very smoothly,” Hall said.

Hall explained that although the weekend went well for the flea market, there were other events occurring that may have drawn people away. There was a large garage sale occurring in Ocean Pines that could have kept people from the downtown area. The Arts and Crafts Fair was also held last weekend at the Convention Center, attracting a lot of the same people that would have attended the downtown flea market. With word spreading about the downtown flea market, this weekend should be an even bigger success, officials estimate.

“I was quite pleased with the turnout and everything went well,” said Tom Allen, president of the Downtown Association.

According to Allen, the association sold 21 parking spots for vendors on Saturday and 19 parking spots on Sunday. At $10 per vendor, the estimated revenue was $400, exceeding what they had originally expected.

It seems that the flea market also brought an increase to the parking revenue. According to Hall, the income from parking meters increased from $2,900 to $3,700 last weekend. Hall said the flea market deserves some credit for that, but he conceded the weather may have been the main factor behind the spike.

The flea market will be open again this weekend and Hall expects that twice as many people will come out to enjoy the flea market.