Local News

Raleigh Flea Market vendors get rate increase

Posted September 21, 2009 1:31 p.m. EDT
Updated September 21, 2009 6:34 p.m. EDT

— Vendors at the Raleigh Flea Market at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds say a recently announced rent increase comes at a time when sales are down.

Vendors were notified of the increase – from 37 cents per square foot to 50 cents per square foot – on Sunday. The increase goes into effect on Nov. 1.

It will impact the 200 indoor vendors, like Melissa Martindale, the most.

“I just feel a little scared, a little nervous because this is my main source of income,” said Martindale, who runs Horns-n-Hides. “We’ve all been hoping that things pick up.”

Martindale said in the past two months she hasn’t made enough money to cover her rent.

Antique dealer Glen Perry said the increase will amount to $200 extra a week for him.

“I can’t stand to stay here if I’m not going to make money,” Perry said.

Perry said he has seen a 62 percent drop in profit this year.

Flea market manager Marshall Stewart said he pays $18,000 a month to rent out the state fairgrounds.

Stewart’s family founded the flea market, at 1025 Blue Ridge Road, in the 1970s, but lost the contract to operate it five years ago. Stewart recently won back the bid to operate the market, but at a higher cost. He said the increase is the result of the added expense it cost him to reclaim the bid.

Stewart said it is the first rate increase the market has seen in six years. He said he is willing to work with vendors who are struggling.

The Raleigh Flea Market is supposed to notify the the state Department of Agriculture in writing and receive written approval before raising rental rates for its vendors, according to spokesman Brian Long. That notice must be received at least 30 days in advance of the proposed change.

As of Monday afternoon, Long said his office had not received that information from the Raleigh Flea Market.