After being out of work for over a year, Sunny Jarosz decided to change her career from the building trade to the retail trade. “I needed to open up a place where people like me can afford to shop for necessities and extras,” she says. What she did not know was that her local government would be helping her all the way. “The city really pushed me to get this going,” she explains. “They knew we needed this, that the community needed this.”
She opened her Dreams Come True Emporium and Flea Market in Cañon City, Colo., in February. It consists of a 4,800-square-foot building — the “Emporium” in the name — and the adjacent outdoor lot — the “Flea Market.” The interior spaces are rented by the month to vendors who do not stay on site. The vendors stock their spaces, and Jarosz sells their product on a consignment-shop-like model. “I have 28 inside spaces,” she says, “and they are all rented out.” She says that the Emporium is doing well: “I have widows over the age of 70 who have spots. My vendors are coming in to restock their spaces every other day. I have a waiting list of 15 people who want to move in this store. I need a bigger building, and I’ve only been in business two months.”
Outside, she is starting a weekly weekend flea market with another 37 spaces for vendors who sell their wares at their booths, and all are reserved for the opening. The first session for that is tomorrow. Jarosz says that although she had doubts about the viability of the inside spaces (since proven unfounded), “I knew the flea market would succeed because there are so many people in this community that live and survive off yard sales.”
For the grand opening of the flea market, she has special food planned as well as on-location broadcasting from a local radio station. She is charging vendors $15 per day, but one cost that they will not incur is the charge of a license from the City of Cañon.
“Colorado has a law that says you’re only allowed five yard sales per year,” Jarosz explains. “If you have more, you are considered a business. I hold the business license and the sales tax license. Those licenses are $100 a pop, and my vendors can’t afford that.”
Ken Burger, the senior accounting technician for the city, confirms the city policy. He has a special arrangement for the flea market and for the local farmers market. “I’ve got one point person who’s responsible for collecting from the various vendors and then remitting, in one fell swoop, to me,” he says.
Jarosz has nothing but praise for the way the city has helped her, especially considering that since she is the only one who needs a license, the city is giving up thousands of dollars of revenue it could have claimed by requiring each vendor to have a license.
“We just try to be as flexible as we can,” says Burger.