Local News

Opinions Differ on SE Raleigh Flea Market's Image

Posted January 16, 2007
Updated January 27, 2007

Every weekend, more than 15,000 people pack Watson's Flea Market at 1436 Rock Quarry Road. Some city planners are not pleased with the area's appearance, however.

Once a chicken poultry plant, there is now talk of turning the flea market site into a new football stadium.

“I think we have to make changes. I don't think we can continue the way we are," Raleigh City Councilman James West said. "I'm not against commerce, but we need the right kind of commerce in the area.”

Wake County has cited food-cart vendors on the property for operating without a permit. City inspectors have cited and fined Watson's Flea Market for several violations in the last several months.

On Tuesday, a fire inspector walked away with extension cords. A recent report stated they were used as permanent wiring.

The City Council has given the flea market's owner, Woody Simmons, a warning to clean up the operation or risk being shut down.

The city also fined the flea market for trash on the site. Simmons said he has gone into the woods, taken out the trash and plans to get rid of it.

Community activists are concerned that the poor conditions are the impression people get of the entire southeast Raleigh community.

“This is the gateway to southeast Raleigh, so we have to manage this area very well because this is the first perception people have of our community,” said Brad Thompson, co-chairman of the Southeast Raleigh Assembly.

“There's a lot of nitpicking going on,” Simmons said.

Simmons said he is working on the electrical issues, has hired off-duty police officers to direct traffic and is making needed repairs. Still, he believes the flea market is being unfairly targeted.

“I agree it's not pretty, but it's been here for 28 years. It's a flea market. I'm sorry we are on the main road,” he said.

Simmons said the place is just old.

“We can’t change. This is a flea market. If it was a shopping center, it would be different, but it’s not,” Simmons said.

The city said it needs a new look to continue to operate.

“The community perceives this as a nuisance,” West said.
11 Comments

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  • albertwsimmons Jan 18, 2007

    THE FLEA MARKET ALLOWS 350+ FAMILIES TO SURVIVE AND LIVE A DECENT LIFE.THIS IS ALL THEY KNOW AND DO TO MAKE A LIVING.MANY HAVE BEEN HERE FOR 28 YEARS.MANY LIVE IN SOUTHEAST RALEIGH AND HAVE NEVER HEARD OF "NEIGHBORS" COMPLASINTS.COUNCILMAN WEST WANTS TO DISCARD THESE FAMILIES,TAKE AWAY THEIR INCOME,FOR SOMETHING THAT "LOOKS BETTER".I THINK COUNCILMAN WEST NEEDS ATTENDING TO BY THE POWERS THAT PLACED HIM WHERE HE IS.

  • jthiespowell Jan 18, 2007

    I avoid any type of flea market like the plague....but obviously some people enjoy it,so why can't we have a flea market that is subject to rules as any business would be? Needs to be kept clean, have a uniformed look, etc? Because then it would cost more and people just can't have that. Sorry...they need to clean it up or get rid of it.

  • thefensk Jan 17, 2007

    Yeah, I have to wonder at the nuisance factor if it is attracting 15,000 people a weekend. Good business is a nuisance? What do they want, a barren strip center?

    I wonder what the "right kind" of business is?

    The electrical, food, and trash violations are a concern for the safety of all and these are things the owner SHOULD address. But close it down because it is not the right kind of business? It is capitalism at its best!

    Oh, maybe they think they're missing out on sales taxes.

  • DOG Jan 17, 2007

    PVT4JC/ It's possible that I am a SOB but I'm definitely not ignorant. Your lack of thought, in your comment, shows who the ignorant one is. Is that the best you can do?

  • tarheelblue919 Jan 17, 2007

    Heres the deal! Its not really about the flea market at all. Its all about the City Of Raleigh. The flea market is so to speak a "lower class of people" in their eyes, and the fines are just a PERFECT opportunity to railroad the place and build a Brand New Football Stadium that would bring the City Of Raleigh, and FINE penny. Politics folks, politics. As I am a flea market go'er.....but that don't make me STUPID!

  • latanya512 Jan 17, 2007

    I visit both flea markets esss (whoever you are). Are you saying the people that go to the flea market is not good enough for the fairgrounds. What too many ethnic groups would contaminate your space? You really sound ignorant. The flea market might be crowded, not as organized but it has such a diversity of people and cultures. Don't knock something you don't even know about.

  • builder276 Jan 17, 2007

    so what, that whoile area of town is an eye-sore. All of a suuden, they don't like the flea market. They should demolish that whole area and start over. But not with tax payer money

  • 2AMANDA2 Jan 16, 2007

    the flea market has been there as long as i can remember. it has changed drastically over the years. being that raleigh has 3 flea markets, the cheapest one is always going to be the most crowded. i think the police officers directing traffic is definitely a step in the right direction. however, the population of the city has had a direct relation to the amount of business the flea market gets. i think it definitely needs to move to a bigger location. the prisons own all of the land around it, so it can't really expand.

  • superman Jan 16, 2007

    Who cares about the flea market? Must be pretty attractive to draw 15,000 people? And the city spent millions downtown and look at what they get-- the same pigeons that been there for years. The impovments were not even good enough to draw a better class of birds.

  • DOG Jan 16, 2007

    Let them stay where they are. If they are closed up, they may start coming to the fairgrounds flea market. Then it will go to hell.

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