First Monday Trade Days, in Canton, TX, is one of America’s oldest and largest flea markets. It began in the 1850s, when the Circuit Judge stopped in Canton on the first Monday of each month to hold court. People came to town on that day to conduct their business, stock their pantries and sit in on court proceedings, and many people brought their own goods, produce and livestock to sell or trade. By 1965, first Monday had outgrown the Town Square, and the city of Canton purchased six acres two blocks north of the courthouse. Today, the market is spread over 450 acres, has more than 7,000 booths and is open four days per month, Thursday through Sunday before the first Monday of each month.
“We are a community of 3,581 persons, and we grow to 200,000 to 300,000 people when the market is open,” states Mercy Rushing, marketing director for the city of Canton for First Monday. “We had a study done by Ray Perryman, one of the leading economists in Texas, and he said we get two million appearances a year, meaning those people could have been here for one day or for four days.” Eighty percent of the market is indoors and outdoor spaces have roofs. Rental fee for a 10 foot by 10 foot space is about $50 for the weekend. Many of the market’s vendors are women, Rushing shares, and they don’t want to cart their merchandise back and forth each day. Therefore, the market implemented a “lock and leave” program so people can leave their wares at the market.
Market vendors who do particularly well selling new merchandise are those that embellish their products with an artistic touch, Rushing explains. “We have a lot of artisans, and we have a lot of unusual pieces as well as some things you might see in a shopping mall.” Some of the market’s five owners insist on vendors who sell unusual items or collectibles and antiques, she adds. The market has, for example, one area with vendors who sell only knobs. “We have dealers who come in from California and other parts of the country and buy things and bring them back to their stores.”
One of the reasons First Monday Trade Days is a successful market is because it is kept clean and safe, Rushing remarks. “We have updated our restroom facilities. For elderly and handicapped people, we have proprietors that rent scooters. We also have first aid facilities, and police and fire personnel on the grounds. Safety is very important to us.”
First Monday Trade Days’ owners each employs various methods of promotion to bring in shoppers, including advertising in hotel motel packs, on billboards, on the radio, in magazines, and on television. In the summertime, a large water park called Splash Kingdom in Canton draws families to the area, which in turn draws shoppers to the market. “We have Ferris wheels, music, restaurants and shops. We also have a couple of wineries in town that are open during First Monday,” Rushing notes. “There is a lot to do in the area.”
First Monday Trade Days is located between State Highways 64 and 19 in Canton, TX. Hours are 8 a.m. to sundown, year round, even on holidays and in bad weather. From Interstate Highway 20 East or West, take Exit 526, travel south on First Monday Lane (Highway 859) to reach West entrance. Additional entrances are located off of SH 64 and SH 19.
For more information:
First Monday Trade Days
800 First Monday Lane
Canton, TX 75103
Web site: www.firstmondaycanton.com