An indoor market, planned for the south side of Dodge City, Kan., was okayed at a meeting of the Ford County commissioners on June 22.
“The flea market conditional use was approved,” said T. Kim Goodnight, the chair of the county commissioners. He said that the property was fine for use without improvements, in a building on site. Goodnight said that the county was “aggressive” about helping launch new ventures. “We always encourage new businesses to open up,” he said.
The market is being launched by Walter Gould of Dodge City, who has some strong opinions about the challenges he has faced in getting his market started. “It’s a learning curve, I tell you what,” he says. “If I had to do it again, I don’t know whether I would have pursued it this hard.”
Gould says that finding a suitable location, with parking, was not simple. “You have to be able to find someone willing to sell it, rent it, or lease it. We ended up having to buy more than we wanted. Then we built a building. Now we’re arguing over the city water.”
“The city wants me to use city water, not drill a well,” he says. “They say, ‘For health and sanitation we want you to have city water.’ But there’s a caveat on that: ‘For you using city water, we can annex you any time we want.’ ”
“I have no problem with being annexed, but as soon as it becomes annexed, then I come under all of their laws, all of their little local deals,” Gould says. “And then the city says ‘We’ll need you to pave your whole parking area, so you’re not dragging dirt up onto our paved street …’ That really got me.”
“I say, ‘You guys are killing little businesses from ever trying.’ ”
Gould is looking for ways around this latest regulatory nightmare. “Being as I’m not in the city limits, I don’t see how they can force me to use their water. I can buy water for people to drink. I can bring in bottled water. I think I can haul water in to use for my septic system.”
Even after navigating these roadblocks, Gould says he has a lot of work to do before he can consider an opening date for the business. He has put up a pole barn, a 40-foot by 70-foot metal building. But he has to put in a concrete floor and lights before he sets his grand opening date. “That’s going to depend on when I get the concrete on it, and then I get some more electrical and lights going.”
After he does get the property ready, “There will be a consignment option for anything people want to sell other than livestock. We’ll sell homewares or housewares, or whatever people have. We’ll sell equipment, we’ll sell cars, pick-ups, trucks, whatever somebody want to sell. If they can drag it in or haul it in, we’ll sell it.”
And of course, he plans a traditional flea market as well. “I’ll let them set up on a Friday night, we’ll be open Saturday and Sunday for people, and Sunday night, by midnight, have your stuff out of there,” he says.
He hopes to start with up to 20 vendors. “I’m hoping we get 10 or 20 people, and it there’s more, that’s better. But to be realistic, I’m hoping for 10 or 20 who are bringing some quality products in. My deal is, let’s keep the quality there.”
He also has plans for an auction to be held weekly. “I’m going to have an auction, probably Thursday nights, and we’ll need the building for it.” He is looking to sell household furniture, estates, slightly used appliances, cars, and other items. “I got a good auctioneer lined up,” says Gould.
There are still expenses ahead, but Gould expects that most of that is behind him. “I’m hoping I don’t have to put in another $50,000.” He has already invested three times that amount. “Well, you have to buy the ground,” he says.
Oct. 19 Update: Walter Gould tells FleaMarketZone that with community support for the flea market low, it is on hold. However, he is running consignment auction sales at the site now, and those have been a success. “The flea market isn’t doing too good, but the auction is doing all right,” he says.