Flea market vendors given temporary site to operate while long-term solution is addressed
The shut down happened in February after the city ended a lease agreement with the market in September.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Vendors from the Central Flea Market are demanding action from Charlotte City Council months after they were forced to shut down at the old Eastland Mall site.
The shutdown happened in February after the city ended a lease agreement with the market in September.
Prior to that, the market attracted about 200 vendors and shoppers to the site every Saturday for years.
The city terminated the lease in order to allow for developer Crosland Southeast to break ground on a mixed-use redevelopment project there this summer.
Dozens of vendors held a protest outside of the government center Monday night and spoke during the meeting about the financial stress this has caused them. Some said they cannot pay their bills because of this loss of income.
City leaders told vendors they would work to find a new location for the market, but five months later they have not succeeded. Assistant City Manager Brent Cagle said all of the options they’ve found so far have been too small to host all of the vendors.
“That was everything, that’s the only job that we have,” Karina Hernandez said.
Hernandez says she is struggling to make ends meet for herself and her three children without the ability to sell goods in east Charlotte.
“My credit cards, I think I don’t have anymore credit to use because I used all of them, because I don’t have any income now,” she said. “It’s really hard.”
Small business owners like Justina Swain also feel the strain, after spending money to create trinkets that she now has nowhere to sell.
“I had so much product that I did just at home sitting,” Swain said. “It meant a lot to me because I am on a fixed income so anything extra that comes in it helps me out.”
City council member Tariq Bokhari met with vendors Tuesday to tell them he found a solution.
Bokhari announced in an emergency press conference Wednesday that this Saturday, July 16, vendors can operate free of charge on 7th Street in uptown Charlotte between Brevard and Caldwell streets.
The market will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Vendors can sign up at summeriscomingclt.com.
“The goal right now in the short term was to find people with real estate with the desire to help to jump in so that we could strike a short-term deal for the next at least couple of months, starting this weekend people could go back to work and start making money,” Bokhari said.
As of Wednesday, the location is only secured for this weekend, but Bokhari was adamant that a long-term solution is in the works.
“I would like a permanent place for us to go where no one is gonna come harass us,” Swain said.
Bokhari also said he’s working on a technology component so that vendors can list their items online, attracting more people to the market to purchase it.
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