In another example of the trend in converting old big-box locations into swap meets and flea markets, a husband and wife team are making a Tennessee-themed market from what was once a Kmart in Memphis. “About 20 percent of our vendors will sell Tennessee-related goods, from the university items to Tennessee mailboxes to Tennessee arts and crafts,” says Dennis Stewart, the assistant manager of the Tennessee Flea Market. His wife, Denise, serves as president, and the two are putting together an ambitious retail venue. How ambitious? “We believe this will be one of the major tourist attractions in Memphis within the next three years,” says Dennis Stewart.
He hopes to bring in the crowds not only with a large array of Tennessee products, but with the largest mural in America, as reported in the Memphis Business Jounal. Stewart explains the idea: “We hired a public relations company and asked what we can do to make us stand out. They told us to do a flea market that’s based on Tennessee, with memorabilia about Tennessee throughout the market, and do a very large mural about Tennessee. And we made it the largest mural in the United States.”
But Tennessee products and a Tennessee mural are not the only attractions that make the Tennessee Flea Market stand out. “The Memphis area is the only area I know in the state of Tennessee that does not have a year-round flea market every weekend,” says Stewart, “and I just thought it was a golden opportunity.” The old Kmart location, covering 175,000 square feet, will hold 850 vendors who will pay $300 per month, or $75 per weekend, for a 10×10 booth. There is a discount for the monthly vendors. “If they do it by the month, they get four free weekends per year,” says Stewart. Vendors have a choice of four different wall types for their booths: panels, sheetrock, pegboard, or plywood. Stewart says that all booth construction will be complete by March 15, in time for an April grand opening. “We’re going to be very vendor-friendly,” says Stewart. “We want to make them happy. We’re spending a lot of money on radio, TV, ands billboards. We’ll do whatever’s necessary to draw the crowds here.”
The market hopes to add other attractions to bring in those crowds, for example, with some larger spaces for storefronts, food sellers, and special events. “We have a food court,” says Stewart. “Twenty-four weekends out of the year we’re going to have a special event. We have 10,000 square feet set aside. We’ll have home shows, job fairs, gun and knife shows, bridal shows, and various other types of shows.” The market will be open every Saturday and Sunday.
The tech-savvy organizers are working hard to make the market computer-friendly. “We’re going to be heavy into Facebook, heavy into Twitter, and we’re offering a free Craigslist service where we will be promoting individual vendors and their products for them on a weekly basis,” says Stewart. “We actually have a Craigslist specialist that will be on staff.” The market will feature free wifi for the public.
For more information, e-mail Dennis Stewart at email@example.com or call (901) 848-9953.