States are easing up on their COVID-19 restrictions, consumers are getting out and shopping in person, and flea markets are booming! The warm weather is not the only element bringing shoppers out to the markets — the vaccine rollouts and lowered number of COVID deaths have made customers more comfortable with leaving their homes. These factors are having a positive impact on flea markets and swap meets.
“Historically, flea markets have been resilient and market owners have been through a lot of situations like this, but no one has been through a pandemic,” Rob Sieban, President, CEO and co-owner of United Flea Markets, said. “All of our markets reopened much stronger than we thought, but we believe as the vaccine continues to roll out and consumer confidence builds, then we will be exceeding 2019 numbers.”
Vendors & Buyers are Coming Back
In order to reopen after closing down for a few months in 2020, many markets had to comply with their state’s regulations and ensure the venue was safe enough for both vendors and patrons. Keeping socially distanced and wearing masks took some getting used to, but it definitely paid off for market owners. Mike Peters, owner of Grafton Flea Market, said it took a lot of work and money to get the place up to speed with guidelines, but the flea has been doing fantastic since they opened for the 2021 season in early April.
“Many people are coming out that we did not see last year,” Peters said. “They were nervous because of the pandemic, but now everyone is getting shots and we are seeing them come back and reserve spaces like they were before COVID. We are already busier than last year.”
Looking Toward a Bright Future
Sieban is optimistic that they will witness record attendance from both vendors and shoppers by the end of the year. “I think our loyal customers are eager to come out, and we are very optimistic about the second half of this year. We are seeing indications not only in the number of attendees, but are hearing positive feedback from vendors on the amount of money that buyers are spending at the markets. People are anxious to get out and return to some type of normalcy, and United Flea Markets is creating a safe and fun environment to do that.”
After closing their doors for almost a year, the Rose Bowl Flea Market had a grand opening in early April of 2021 with shoppers buzzing to get in and find their treasures. According to NBC Los Angeles, many consumers got there early for the VIP early admission, and they left with everything from chairs and frames, to plants and sculptures. The flea market hit capacity at least twice during their opening weekend, prompting visitors to wait in a socially distanced staging area until enough shoppers left in order to allow new customers in.
Outdoor fleas have had a better advantage since they are in the open air and have more room to keep socially distanced, but pretty soon indoor markets will not have to worry about capacity limitations since most states are increasing indoor capacities. This will greatly help all indoor markets to encourage more vendors to come and sell and more shoppers to come and look for a bargain.