Industry Flea scratches a niche in Midtown

Published Thursday, October 5, 2017
by Molly M. Fleming

More than 40 vendors will fill the site at NW 10th Street and N. Hudson Avenue for Industry Flea on Saturday, for the second and last time this year.

The event brings together vendors from across the state who set up for the day under tailgate-style tents. The market is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

This was the first year that coordinator Allison Barta Bailey held only two Fleas total, rather than one each month. She said two events may have not have been enough, but she’s waiting to see what her vendors say before she makes a decision to change it.

“We want to find a sweet spot in between,” she said. “We based our (scheduling) off surveys and feedback that we get every year. We already have vendors asking about next year because they’re booking events for the spring.”

The fall Industry Flea happens next to Pumpkin Corner from The Plant Stand. Owner Jared Bishop said the local support for the stand makes it worth the effort to gather the pumpkins from growers in Oklahoma and Texas.

“I try to create an experience, really,” he said. “It’s not just shopping for pumpkins like you would at a grocery store. I set it up so it’s fun.”

Bishop’s full-time gig is operating Bishop Paint Co. His other side job is Roaming Bison kettle corn company. He’ll pop kettle corn this weekend with the Industry Flea.

Bailey said she checked Bishop’s schedule before setting the October Flea date. She said having the stand next door improves the shopping experience in Midtown, especially since the site is usually vacant.

Having vacant lots in the middle of a developing district can detract from the area, said Mickey Clagg, president of Midtown Renaissance Group. The company owns the lots home to Bleu Garten, the Industry Flea, and the pumpkin stand.

“It’s really helpful to activate (those empty lots), especially along 10th Street,” he said. “It keeps people on the street and makes it a safer place.”

He said the Flea and the Holiday Pop-up Shops are also helpful because they show retailers the business potential of being in Midtown. Three Pop-Up shop vendors are now brick-and-mortar stores.

Bailey said she’s had some Flea vendors grow their businesses into being Pop-Up Shop participants. Being a Pop-Up Shop requires a lot of merchandise, more than what’s required at Industry Flea.

Bishop said he’s seen how the 10th and Hudson site fits into Midtown, with customers coming from nearby restaurants and the northern neighborhoods. He said people see the pumpkins and are excited about the holiday gourds, especially since there are no other vendors nearby.

Clagg said he didn’t have any immediate plans for the 10th Street parcels. He said the group has plenty of other empty lots to develop first.

“We want to have a large site available for something that might come up,” he said.

Read the story at JournalRecord.com

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