Flea markets, antique shops back in swing

Grant D. Crawford | Daily Press

Branton Briggs hangs up merchandise at The Coop Flea Market in Tahlequah.

Practically every business has been impacted by the COVID-19, and those built on selling pre-owned merchandise are no different.

Grapevine Collectibles, a thrift and consignment store in Tahlequah, has much to offer. But owner Sue Santine has not been able to open, and that's taken a toll.

“Well, I think all businesses it has taken a toll on,” she said. “I’m in hopes that everything comes back good – and I think it will.”

Santine said the pandemic hasn’t impacted what merchandise is available at Grapevine Collectibles. The store has a little bit of everything: furnishings, glassware, clothing, various literature, collectible times, and more. Santine plans to reopen June 1, and hopes to see more traffic than before they closed.

“We closed up about a week before they told us to close down,” she said.

Starting June 1 at 306 S. Muskogee Ave., Grapevine Collectibles will be open Monday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

It’s vital for new businesses to open their doors. Unfortunately for The Coop Flea Market, it had to close down right after it opened in February.

“We were open just a week or two in March when we had to shut down,” said Manager Branton Briggs. “We were still just filling it up and trying to have people move in to booths.”

Vendors pay a booth fee to sell merchandise. Out of around 35 booths, there were 10 to 12 when the store closed. The Coop is now open, and patrons can find an assortment of items. Last week, one booth had a stockpile of essential cleaning equipment. Another was filled with Star Wars collectibles that appeared to be in mint condition.

Briggs said The Coop hopes to see more customers and vendors walk in.

“Before, we were getting slower, because people weren’t getting out as much,” he said. “So for us, closing down was kind of a good thing in a way, because the landlord was able to cut us a good deal on the rent. We told everyone if they wanted to take their stuff out, they can, but for the most part, they could just hang tight and wait. A lot of people did."

The Coop Flea Market is open Thursday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m.

Those who drive toward Muskogee on U.S. Highway 62 on Saturdays and Sundays might notice a large gathering at the Woodall Flea Market. Lundy Anderson bought the property a couple of years ago and has been trying to improve it. The market was shut down the first weekend of April and reopened May 1. Anderson said it’s a good thing they weren't shut down for longer.

“With no money coming in, it’s pretty rough when you have a mortgage, utilities, and insurance and all that kind of stuff,” he said.

The flea market has about 20 regular vendors, and on any given day, up to 30 may set up. When the market closed, Anderson decided to lower his regular fee to just a storage price so vendors could keep merchandise on the property and safe. He said the vendors were OK with that.

“It wouldn’t be fair if they have a booth to sell out of and they weren’t allowed to sell,” he said.

Shutting down for any amount of time will negatively impact the business. However, since vendors have been allowed to return, the past couple of weekends have been some of the best they’ve seen.

“We don’t know if that’s going to hang on or not, but sales have been way up and a lot of people got stimulus checks, so it could be due partly to that and people having cabin fever,” said Anderson.

Everyone appears to be handling the virus outbreak differently, including the safety precautions they take. Anderson said that is evident at the Woodall Flea Market.

“This corona thing has not been a real issue in this area, as of yet, but everyone’s pretty responsible,” he said. “Some of them will wear masks and stand back form people, but some don’t change at all, you know.”

The Speckled Hen Antique and Flea Market in Tahlequah also had to close down because of the coronavirus, but now has reopened its doors. Folks can stop Wednesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sundays, 1 to 5 p.m.

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