Nashville flea market receives $1 million to bring vendors back
TN (WSMV) – Metro Nashville Council will give $1 million to The
Fairgrounds Nashville to help them revive their flea market. The flea
market says 65% of their vendors left during the pandemic.
It’s a place with dozens of vendors who drive hours to get set up shop.
Those vendors are known for selling do-dad’s, whatchamacallit’s, and
thingamajigs. That’s the slogan at John Nemeth’s booth.
He’s been behind a table at the flea market for 11 years and sells anything from whiskey decanters to cast iron. Every penny he makes is how he makes a living.
“Up until last month when I started collecting my social security, it was my main source of income,” says Nemeth.
Since the pandemic, he’s noticed there’s a lot less people in the wide-open space.
“Historically we have flea market weekends where we see 20,000 to 30,000 customers and we want to get back to those levels,” explains Laura Womack, The Fairgrounds Nashville Executive Director.
To get those customers back, Womack says it starts with vendors.
“Some of our vendors have been with us for 30 to 40 years,” says Womack.
For a booth outside it costs vendors $75, inside up to $135. To attract vendors, Womack says they will offer rent relief to those who apply. It’s part of a million-dollar fund from Metro Council.
“It will provide our vendor basis for rent relief for up to eight months for one to three booths,” Womack clarifies.
With this boost, Womack hopes vendors will reinvest it in their business.
“So, we are going to be tracking that and asking those questions several times throughout the next year to determine how successful this program was in helping them recover.”
For Nemeth, he’s all for it. Anything to bring this place to the lively place he remembers.
“It’s a big help,” Nemeth says. “I spend what? Now it costs me $50 to $60 to fill my car up, so it helps with gas, food.”
With Eastland flea market shut down, vendors want a new location but the city says it’s not possible
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A flea market that’s been a staple in East Charlotte for years is no longer allowed to operate in the same parking lot and for now, it has nowhere to go.
On Monday, dozens of vendors and shoppers held signs and protested outside the government center in Uptown, asking city leaders for a solution.
Vendor Jorge Castaneda explained how the market was abruptly shut down on Friday as they were setting up for the weekend market.
He said police and a representative from the City of Charlotte shut the flea market down.
The City of Charlotte said they’ve given a license to vendors to have the market at the Eastland site for years.
It allows the vendors to use the site to earn a living and allows the city to gain some use out of what would otherwise be vacant and unused city property, a city spokesperson said.
However, toward the end of 2021, the license expired and the city notified the market operator that a renewal would not be possible, according to city staff.
For the last few months, vendors had been operating at the site without permission or a license.
With construction on a new development set to start soon, the city shut down the market so the space can be cleared and prepped for the start of construction.
WCNC Charlotte also learned in January, a vendor was allegedly selling guns illegally at the market and was arrested.
WCNC Charlotte is also told Mecklenburg County’s Health Department was concerned over some vendors selling food without the proper licenses or permits.
Castaneda said he understood they no longer had permission nor owned the land, but wanted to continue its partnership with the city and move to another location.
He believes it is another example of the city putting new development over the desires of the people.
“We’re asking for a place to sell,” Castaneda said. “Every time we ask for something, it’s like nobody wants to listen to us.”
However, there’s no suitable city-owned land where the market can continue to operate, according to a city spokesperson. It’s up to the operator or vendors to find their next location.