The McHenry City Council, in McHenry, IL, unanimously approved a measure requiring an annual $1,400 city license fee for flea markets at its March 4 meeting. The vote drew a sharp reaction from Jennifer Eckel, who runs Eckel’s McHenry Flea Market, reports the Northwest Herald. “Congratulations, you got yourself another empty building. We’re going somewhere that appreciates us,” she reportedly said.
The ordinance, which takes effect in May, is intended to regulate flea market businesses, according to officials. The ordinance also requires operators to provide proof of applicable federal and state licenses before receiving a McHenry license to operate. Flea market operators will be allowed to pay the $1,400 license fee in a lump sum or in four quarterly installments of $350.
Since fall, the city’s Community Development Committee has worked to spell out licensing and operation rules. The committee initially focused on imposing daily fees of $4 on individual vendors, but flea market operators said such fees were excessive. The city would have made approximately an extra $10,000 for the year for Eckel’s McHenry Flea Market market, Carl Eckel, owner of the market, told FleaMarketZone.com last month. Eckel had been in talks with the City Council to reach an agreement on a lesser fee. “The city feels it is not getting its tax revenue out of the flea markets,” Eckel explained. “I’m asking them to be more considerate on the fees.” In other Illinois towns, Eckel added, flea market licenses are generally $30 to $40 per year.
A flea market, according to the city, is defined as “any business activities commonly known as but not limited to swap shops, penny markets, rummage sales, and where tangible articles are bought, sold or exchanged by more than one vendor, not otherwise regulated in the City of McHenry Municipal Code.” Resale and secondhand shops and garage sales are exempt.
Eckel’s McHenry Flea Market, 3705 W. Elm St., currently has about 35 vendors working the site, with space for 50 additional vendors. At Fox River Flea Market, 3017 W. Route 120, the number of vendors fluctuates between 40 to 70 throughout the year. Both markets operate only on the weekends.