OC Flea Market Tweaked To Encourage Growth

OCEAN CITY – The Mayor and Council worked to better the downtown flea markets at the City Council meeting Monday night, agreeing that it is a great program for the downtown area in need of a few adjustments.

Councilman Jim Hall and Downtown Association representative Bob Rothermel presented the current progress of the flea markets to the Mayor and Council, making two suggestions for improvement.

Hall began by giving an update on the current state of the flea market.

“All is good, a little bit lighter than we’d like, but all is good. We just need to tweak a few things,” Hall said.

Rothermel agreed that some work needed to be done.

“The flea markets are a great idea for downtown,” he said.

Rothermel explained that it’s been 10 years since the flea market was held at the convention center parking lot and that it will need some time to flourish once again.

The flea market returned at the beginning of June and has received much support from the Downtown Association and the Mayor and Council in hopes of bringing more people to the downtown area during the day.

The flea market is currently held downtown in the Worcester Street parking lot every Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m.-1 p.m.

The flea market offers a variety of merchandise. Items such as handmade arts and crafts, used goods and antiques are sold. The merchandise presented must 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 earlier this year about the project in hopes that the Downtown Association could use the money for other downtown projects, which would result in a nicer downtown area.

Although the downtown flea markets have achieved success so far, Rothermel and Hall agreed that a few kinks needed to be ironed out and suggested two ideas for improvement. They suggested that the business license fee be waived and that the time be extended one hour.

Rothermel suggested that the city add an additional hour, ending at 2 p.m. instead of 1 p.m. Hall agreed that the additional hour would be beneficial, explaining that most people don’t start coming until around 10:30 a.m.

It was initially decided to charge the flea market vendors a $10 fee. At that time, there was debate over whether or not the vendors should pay the additional $9 fee for a one-day business license.  The decision was made by the council to waive the business license fee until the fiscal year began July 1.

Now that the fiscal year has begun, Hall feels that the $9 fee should be waived again to allow the flea market and the vendors a chance to grow without the burden of an additional fee.

Hall explained that although the market has a good customer base that is continuing to grow, it still needs more vendors. Hall feels that waiving of the $9 fee would be encouraging for vendors.

Councilman Jay Hancock agreed that the two suggestions would help the flea market flourish.

“I think if we can get it going, it’ll be an asset to the town,” Hancock said.

Hancock suggested the city waive the business license fee for one year in order to generate more interest.

The council voted unanimously to extend the hours until 2 p.m. and to waive the additional $9 business license fee.