Darren Kurkowski has served as president of the National Flea Market Association (NFMA) since February 2012. This month, he passes the baton to newly elected Rob Sieban, VP of Mile High Flea Market, as incoming president. Previously, Darren served on the NFMA Board of Directors for five years. He currently holds the position of VP of Operations for the Paramount Swap Meet, a daily outdoor market that has been operating since 1955.
Darren has been instrumental in affecting positive change within the flea market and swap meet industry. FleaMarketZone.com recently spoke with Darren about his role with the NFMA as well as in the industry.
FMZ: As president of the NFMA for the past two years, what were your greatest challenges?
Darren: The challenges facing the NFMA continue to be focused around addressing legislation aimed at flea markets. Our position has been, and continues to be, to treat our industry the same as any other retailer. We will continue to look for and oppose legislative proposals which attempt to single out or discriminate against flea markets by imposing restrictions, requirements, or prohibitions that are not equally applied to every retailer.
FMZ: What were your achievements?
Darren: With the guidance of our Government Relations team coupled with the efforts of the NFMA Board of Directors, the NFMA has made great strides in educating elected officials and policy makers about the positive aspects of the flea market industry. As a result, our relationships in Washington DC are transitioning from an introduction of the NFMA and our industry, to one where we have a seat at the discussion table.
FMZ: What is ahead for you?
Darren: I will continue to be active with the NFMA as I assume the role of Chairman of the Board.
FMZ: How long have you been with the Paramount Swap Meet?
Darren: I’ve been working for the Paramount Swap Meet since 1977. My current position is vice president of Swap Meet and Theatre Operations, responsible for the Paramount Swap Meet, Bianchi Theatres, and Paramount Drive-In Theatres. I also serve as the president of the California Swap Meet Association, a position I have held since 2000. I currently serve on the Board of Directors for the Paramount Chamber of Commerce and also served as its president for three different terms.
FMZ: You have worked in the Swap Meet / Flea Market industry for over 30 years. What major changes have you seen in the industry?
Darren: Over the past 30 years I have seen tremendous growth in our industry. More and more, flea markets are recognized as a great place to start a retail business. We have become an incubator for small business.
Darren will open up the NFMA annual conference on Wednesday, February 12, with the President’s Opening Remarks. The conference is being held in Las Vegas, February 12-13.