On Saturday, Garden City’s new flea market attraction was officially born after approximately five months of logistical gestation.
The parking lot at the southwest corner of the Finney County Fairgrounds, where the Harvest Flea Market (HFM) was set up, was peppered with vendor stands across nearly 10 acres of asphalt.
Mary Arkebauer, HFM’s operations manager and one of the event’s founders, said approximately 20 to 25 vendors had made appearances by noon. The market opened to shoppers at 7:30 a.m., and she said one vendor, the former owner of Cao Thanh Vietnamese Restaurant, sold out of her egg rolls — twice.
The new event had a lot of yawning space, with vendors dispersed sporadically across the premises, but near the front entrance, person after person inquired about the process of setting up their own vending area to sell all manner of goods.
Alan Snodgrass said he thinks the market, which is set to occur every weekend on Saturday and Sunday until sometime in October, is a good idea, and he wishes a similar event was in Dodge City, which is closer to where he lives.
“I think as time goes on, there will be more people bringing their items out here,” he said. “Sometime through the summer, I’ll be over here to set up at least once or twice.”
Les Spangler, a retired business owner in Scott City, said he maintains a workshop where he produces refinished antiques to sell. He, too, visited to get an idea of what it would take to set up a vendor space.
Scott City has the Whimmydiddle Arts and Crafts Fair and the June Jaunt, he said, but not much else in the way of flea market-style commerce.
“I think this will grow,” he said. “You get however many people come today, and they go out and they tell their buddies about it. The next one is going to be bigger yet, and I’ll try to be organized enough to have merchandise to come down for the next one. I might even make it next weekend.”
He said the fact that the flea market will be open every weekend is “probably what’s going to make it work.”
Spangler noted that Hutchinson and Wichita have regular flea markets, too, but only once a month.
Sheena McKinley of Garden City set up shop on Saturday to sell her baked goods. She said the effort was “really successful” with just three pies left before they decided to take a break and tour the grounds.
“We sold out almost everything except for three pies, and I think there’s a lot of potential,” she said. “I think next week there will be a lot more people here than there are now.
McKinley brought pies, cinnamon rolls, breads, cupcakes and muffins that she regularly bakes as a hobby at her home. She doesn’t own a storefront business, and she usually just gives her confections away to friends, so the flea market offers her a way to more regularly monetize her talents.
She said the biggest seller on Saturday was her cinnamon rolls.
“I sold out of those in like five minutes, and everybody kept asking all day for cinnamon rolls, so I need to bring some cinnamon rolls apparently,” she said.
She says she’ll probably be back next weekend.
“I think this will bring in so much more other than vegetables and baked goods and stuff like that. I think it’s a great opportunity for a lot of people,” she said.
Jeff Arkebauer, HFM general manager and co-founder, said he knew the first weekend would be the biggest hurdle for the event.
“We kept all weeklong saying we just have to get through this first weekend because we just don’t have any idea what the numbers were going to be, but I think it’s pretty hard for anybody to come through that gate and not see that the bones are here, the structure is here, everything is here to really make this successful,” he said.
On Saturdays and Sundays, vendors can set up in the morning between 6:30 and 8:30 a.m., and customers can shop between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. For more information, visit HarvestFleaMarket.com.
Contact Mark Minton at email@example.com.