The new manager of Cloverdale’s flea market takes over this Sunday, promising continued operation over the busy Christmas season as he takes hold of the reins.
Andy James says it’s business as usual for the weekly market, echoing earlier assurances by the Cloverdale Rodeo and Exhibition Association, responsible for the lease at the Cloverdale Fairgrounds.
James plans a series of improvements for the Sunday market, starting with a website where, instead of lining up in the middle of the night, vendors can register for craft tables ahead of time and visitors can find information and directions to the market.
Bringing in buskers and family entertainment is one of the ways he plans to enhance the Cloverdale Market to widen its appeal.
“The plan is to keep things running smoothly, gradually adding attractions and services to enhance the market experience for customers,” James said. “I want this to be a family destination on Sundays, a place to take the kids and spend a few hours and a few bucks.”
James said he initially expected to take over operations on Jan. 1, but those plans changed when the original operator decided to bow out a month early.
Worse, the previous operator began posting signs – and running newspaper ads – saying the flea market was closing forever on Nov. 27 after 34 years.
“That information is false,” Cloverdale Rodeo Association general manager Dave Melenchuk said, adding the market vendors “got the rug pulled out from under them.”
The confusion created anxiety among customers and vendors alike.
“It’s unfortunate,” James said. “It hurts the vendors. They just want to carry on business.”
The market runs from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays year round, closing only for the last two weekends of the year for Christmas and New Year’s.
Despite the transition to a new manager, the market will be open Dec. 4, 11 and 18, take a brief hiatus over the holidays, and will reopen in January.
James’ connection to the Cloverdale market reaches back to the 1990s, when he sold antiques as a vendor for three or four summers before opening an antique and collectible store on New Westminster’s antique row on Front Street. His father had an antique store in Gastown, “So I’ve been doing this all my life,” he said, adding his experience as a flea market vendor in Cloverdale is going a long way to allay fears about the market’s future.
“There is a real sense of family and community within the market,” he said, adding he’s already had a chance to meet with almost all of the vendors.
“We’ve emphasized that it’s business as usual.”
Despite the confusion over the market’s future, their mood is “very positive”, he said. People are ready for a revamp and are looking forward to the changes, he said.