A news segment reported yesterday by WSBTV in Atlanta tells the story of vendors who hoped to get in on the ground floor of a new flea market — but who were actually bilked out of their booth rental pre-payments when the market failed to open. According to the report, vendors and police say flea market owner and manager Ace Pollard was paid for booth space by 150 renters who got nothing for their money.
A huge billboard announced the opening of the market, to have been located at an old car dealership. On Sept. 12, the Georgia Secretary of State revoked Pollard’s “OBT Flea Market” company’s right to do business there.
As a matter of record, a con artist going by the name of Ace Pollard has been using similar scams to defraud flea market vendors in several southern cities. Reports include the following:
In July 2008, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that vendors at a new flea market in Chesterfield, Va., were complaining of price gouging and threats from flea market operator Ace Pollard. Vendors agreed to pay for a year’s rent in advance, sums ranging from $6,000 to $11,000. A month later, the paper reported that Pollard was arrested.
In January 2008, TV news reports in Nashville, Tenn., from both WSMV and WTVF, described an angry confrontation between vendors who had paid $350 per booth for a flea market to be launched by Ace Pollard. WTVF’s compelling report from the scene of the confrontation, showing Pollard, is still online. Pollard claimed to have rented a former Best Buy location at the Hickory Hollow Mall to use for the market’s venue, but the owner of the building said the deal had never been finalized. Coincidentally, yesterday FleaMarketZone reported that the city of Nashville is now relocating the Nashville Flea Market to the same Hickory Hollow Mall from the state fairgrounds.
In October 2007, according to The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, Tenn., Pollard launched the OBT Flea Market at a former Kmart in Memphis, but a month later the same newspaper reported that “vendors are scratching for answers.” The market never opened.
Before that, according to The Commercial Appeal, Pollard had claimed to operate markets in Florida, Mississippi, and Georgia. Comments by readers reported those as scams too. In June 2007, in an article about Pollard opening a new market in Warner Robins, Ga., the Macon Telegraph reported that Pollard operated a chain of flea markets. “Pollard started the chain in Orlando almost four years ago He now has two in Florida; one in Jackson, Miss.; and one in Douglasville just outside of Atlanta, making the Warner Robins store his second in Georgia,” according to the article.
Photo credits, with thanks: WTVF, Nashville, Tenn.