Flea market bouncing back post-COVID

The Tallahassee Flea Market.
Photo Credit: Samuel Williams

The Tallahassee Flea Market has been a hub for trade and collectibles for many years. Though the location faced its hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic, many supporters agree that the site is invaluable.

Tom Yates is a local buyer and collector who has frequented the Tallahassee Flea Market for more than seven years. Yates said he believes in the Capital Circle SW location full-heartedly.

“It is honestly like a treasure hunt,” Yates said. “Both during and after COVID, inventory was scarce, but I am glad everything seems like it is bouncing back.”

William “Wild Bill” Smith has been a vendor at the flea market for the past three years. Smith said while business has been better in the last few months, COVID-19 and economic frustration has still affected the location.

“COVID will never allow us to be ‘back to normal,’” Smith said. “Between the virus and the inflation, it’s been tough to keep people coming back, but it is better than before.”

Smith also said as long as vendors and buyers are in supply, the flea market will continue to hold its own.

“As long as people have products and people want products, someone is bound to purchase things,” he said.

A Row of shoppers and vendors at the Tallahassee Flea Market
Photo Credit: Samuel Williams

A fellow vendor, Eric Wheeler, agreed that the support for open markets and trade is strong in Tallahassee.

“If we got it, they usually want it,” Wheeler said.

“That even on bad days, we tend not to leave with less money than when we first started. We always make do,” he said.

An assistant manager of the flea market, Jami Robinson, agreed that the location still has a strong presence in the community.

“We shut down for three months, reopened, and people made more business than before,” Robinson said.

“In our case, unemployment leads to self-employment and many people find themselves doing business here.”

Robinson said that the population of vendors and buyers has been on a steady incline since the subsiding of COVID-19.

“Way more people return now than before COVID. We have roughly 300 vendors a weekend, with 200 of those vendors being permanent,” Robinson said.

Robinson also said the weather plays a part in the business at the flea market.

“When it’s cold, it is slow, and that is a fact,” Robinson said.

“The location and vendors are trying to make it a better experience when the weather isn’t being the most opportune.”

While Robinson said there are no specific events planned for the Tallahassee Flea Market, she said,  “The location will continue to thrive with the continued help of the people of Tallahassee.”