Flea Market May Be Forced To Close

Saturday, November 24th 2007, 5:59 pm
By: News On 6

Another long-time resident of the Tulsa County Fairgrounds may be on the way out. Owners of the Tulsa Flea Market say they have until the end of February to find a new home or they'll be forced to close after 35 years. The Tulsa Flea Market has operated non-stop at the fairgrounds since 1972, all by the same family. The News On 6’s Dan Bewley reports that county officials say the flea market is costing the county money, and that has the flea market's owners worried they may join the likes of Bell's and the Tulsa Drillers.

It's been called Tulsa's best kept secret - a place where toys are three for a dollar and decorative ceramics wait for a new home. Buck Walton's known it all too well. He's been selling movie and western memorabilia as long as he can remember.

“I started in '72, so 35 years,” said vendor Buck Walton.

It was the same year manager Melissa Larry's grandfather founded the flea market. Now while she makes sure things stay organized and seeing that the flea market dog, Goddard, has something to snack on, she's got one mind on the future.

"I get the feeling that we're just not wanted here, basically,” said Melissa Larry, whose grandfather founded the flea market.

Today the flea market is in the Trade Center. In the past it's been in the Exchange Center, but that building is nothing but piles of rubble. Come the end of January, the Trade Center will be gone as well.

“We have not been asked to leave in a formal way but I believe we're being phased out of here,” Larry said.

The flea market isn't the only change on the grounds. A parking lot stands where the Zingo once gave kids a roller-coaster thrill. Bell's Amusement Park packed up this summer when the fair board declined to renew their lease, saying the fairgrounds was losing money because of the longtime amusement park. And the Tulsa Drillers have a signed a non-binding letter of intent to move to Jenks. This comes as the fairgrounds are prepped to make Tulsa a national destination for horse shows.

Now the Larrys say they're next, which worries vendors like Buck Walton.

“Yeah, it makes me sad because I don't have a place to go to, to sell like this,” he said.

A spokesman for the fair board says these changes, while painful, are necessary for the financial future of the fairgrounds, adding next year's Arabian horse show is expected to bring in more than $10 million to the city.

County Commissioner Fred Perry told The News On 6 Saturday afternoon the board has been working with the Larry family to find a new home for the flea market. He also said the Larrys have been reluctant to share building space at the fairgrounds, a solution that may be necessary to keep it on the grounds.

Watch the video: Flea Market May Be Forced To Close

Related Flea Market Story:

9/5/2007 Will The Tulsa Flea Market Be Leaving The Fairgrounds?

Related Bell’s Stories:

11/8/2006 Bell's Amusement Park Lease Expires

11/9/2006 No Change Likely On Bell's Amusement Park Decision

11/10/2006 Bell's Says Tulsa County Treating Them Unfairly

11/11/2006 Complaints Begin After Tulsa Amusement Park's Lease Isn't Renewed

11/13/2006 Tulsans React To Bell's Troubles With Tulsa County

11/15/2006 No Decision Yet On Bell's Amusement Park Financial Review

11/19/2006 Interest Soars In Tulsa Amusement Park

11/20/2006 Bell's Amusement Park Looking To Move

11/22/2006 Tulsa County Fairground Rent Payments

11/28/2006 Bumpy Ride For Bell's Amusement Park Continues

11/29/2006 Bell's Amusement Park Asking For More Time To Move

12/19/2006 Bell's Future Still Vague

1/17/2007 Bell's Amusement Park Sells Ride To Tulsa County

1/26/2007 Rides Disappearing At Bell's Amusement Park

2/26/2007 Dismantling A Tulsa Landmark

3/8/2007 More Time To Dismantle Bell's Amusement Park

3/25/2007 Amusement Park Icon Coming Down

6/24/2007 Moving Day For Bell's Amusement Park

8/21/2007 County Seeks To Make Bell’s Business Plan Public

8/30/2007 News On 6 Investigation: What Really Happened To Bell’s Amusement Park?

Related Driller’s Stories:

8/20/2007 The Jenks Drillers?

8/21/2007 Jenks Trying To Lure The Drillers From Tulsa

8/21/2007 Fans React To Possible Drillers Move

8/21/2007 Previous Plans To Move The Drillers Have All Failed

8/27/2007 Group Turns To The Web To Keep The Drillers

8/28/2007 Baseball Fans Pushing The Drillers To Stay

10/11/2007 Poll: Voters Want Tulsa Drillers To Stay In Tulsa