Will The Tulsa Flea Market Be Leaving The Fairgrounds?

Wednesday, September 5th 2007, 4:23 pm
By: News On 6

The future's unclear for the Tulsa Flea Market. It's been a mainstay at the fairgrounds for 35 years, but now, News On 6 anchor Terry Hood reports times are changing.

It's another rainy day outside and inside the Exchange Center at the fairgrounds. Along with dealing with the drips, Melissa Larry says the Flea Market's forecast doesn't look too sunny either.

"We've always referred to ourselves as the stepchild out here," said Flea Market operator Melissa Larry.

Melissa Larry remembers walking up and down the halls of the Exchange Center as a little girl, after her grandparents opened the Flea Market in Tulsa. Now, there are two weekends left before this chapter of the Flea Market's story is history.

"Things are kind of uncertain because there's no certain place for us," Larry said.

The Exchange Center is set to be bulldozed. After the State Fair, the Flea Market will move into the Trade Center, until that building is torn down early next year.

"We'll find homes for things that we didn't know today, but we'll find them tomorrow," said Rick Bjorklund, Fairgrounds CEO.

Fairgrounds CEO Rick Bjorkland says a new Exchange Center will be built, but he doesn't know if it will be home to the Flea Market.

"A successful event in our world is not judged by size, it's simply judged by the fact that it can conduct its own business, and repeat that business," Bjorklund said.

Melissa Larry says her family has been repeating that business for 35 years, and would be happy staying here for years to come.

"This is where I want to be,” she said. “I think that the Flea Market has succeeded here, I think that it will continue to succeed in the future, and I don't know what's going to happen."

The officials at the fairgrounds say they do not know what's in the Flea Market's future either. In the meantime, the Flea Market's lease expires in a week.

The Larrys say they've faithfully paid their rent over the decades, recently around $100,000 a year. Bjorkland suggested to us that the Flea Market could be moved into one of the fairground's air conditioned barns or into the old armory on 15th Street between Yale and Harvard.

The new Exchange Building is set to open before the 2008 State Fair.