News from around the country


NC flea market La Pulga has been a destination for 41 years. 


Maria Bautista started 21 years ago with a small booth at the Buckhorn Jockey Lot & Flea Market, sleeping in her car on Friday nights to make sure she got a spot on Saturday.

The Graham resident was pregnant with her first daughter, Norma, at the time. Now she and her husband, Juan Garcia, have six children, adding a baby to the group eight months ago.

The children grew up at the Buckhorn market, located across from the Petro Truck Stop off Interstates 85/40 at exit 157 in Efland.

They played in the market aisles, sleeping on pillows and blankets tucked under the rough, wooden vendor tables every weekend. Toys, trinkets and candy piled for sale above their heads covered the fabric tablecloths giving them privacy.

“Sometimes in the evenings, we’d have a cookout here. We would celebrate birthdays,” Norma Bautista said, as she sat under the canopy of their booth waiting for crowds to arrive on a humid Saturday morning.

“There are a lot of memories here,” her mother said in Spanish, as Norma interpreted for her.

They heard rumors recently that the flea market was being sold, but there had been rumors before.

Then on June 15, the family and other vendors got a flyer.

The market was closing June 30, the management said. The vendors had until July 15 to remove their structures and any remaining goods.

Maria Bautista said she’s not sure where her family will go. The Durham Green Market is still open on East Pettigrew Street in Durham, but was for sale in recent years, and other markets are located in Greensboro, Raleigh and farther away.

“I like working and selling at the flea market,” Bautista said. “I worked so hard to get this place. Now, I’m going to work hard to find another place.”​

​The news that Buckhorn’s flea market could close doesn’t upset everyone, Orange County resident Don Compton told the Mebane Planning Board in June. The market has been a hub for drug sales, prostitution and other criminal activities for many years, he said.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office has responded to 73 calls at that address in the last three years, spokeswoman Alicia Stemper said in a recent email.

Those included 14 larcenies and robberies; six assaults; 12 vandalism and damage to property calls; two stolen property and two counterfeit item calls; and three driving while impaired calls, a drug violation and an overdose.

In April, the sheriff’s office asked the public for help finding a woman and a man who had threatened a vendor with a knife and a handgun, and robbed him of cash and second-hand electronics.

Historical records show crime and other issues involving the flea market are not new.

In 1985, there were 31 calls to the Sheriff’s Department about criminal activity, according to county records, and in 2006, the state’s anti-counterfeit task force raided the market, seizing over $700,000 worth of counterfeit merchandise and arresting four people.

Orange County’s Inspections Division shut down the main building that year for major code violations. It was condemned in 2007.


Seminole County approves redevelopment of old Flea World site

Reagan Center to have 1,000+ apartments, and could start construction in 2025 as Flea World site sees new life.​

​Seminole County has approved the redevelopment of the former Flea World site, less than a mile north of Winter Springs’ border – but in a much scaled-down project from the last approvals. 

The 110-acre site is located on the east side of U.S. 17-92, north of Ronald Reagan Boulevard and across the street from the Five Points county government operations center.

“The reduction in size we’ve proposed, depending on which measurement or metric you’re looking at, is four to six times smaller than the last [planned development] you approved,” said Randy Morris, a former county commissioner and consultant representing the applicant. “With four to six times less traffic impact. Four to six times less school impact.”

“I’m glad we’re going back to the original vision of this project,” said Commissioner Bob Dallari, “and not 20 stories. … Because it was very ambitious, they were putting gardens on the roof, all kinds of things.” 

Flea World was billed as the largest outdoor flea market in the U.S., but was considered an “economically blighted area.” The original proposal languished and the owner, Syd Levy, passed away. 

He willed it in his estate to the Boys & Girls Club, and what ensued then after his death was some litigation.

“No progress, hope of progress, or economic activity has occurred since Parkside’s 2018 Master Plan approval,” the applicant wrote in the narrative, adding that after it was approved as Parkside, it was tied up in court. Now the Boys and Girls Club of Central Florida again owns the property.

“While development will be challenging in these economic times, this proposal is at least economically feasible,” the letter continues.

The vote to approve the project was not unanimous. 

Under variations of the Live Local Act, private apartment complexes can get property tax exemptions. Commissioner Lee Constantine asked if the applicant would guarantee that future owners of the apartment would not go after those tax credits. 

“I understand you could say no, but I would very much like to see that you all agree in the development order that you would not sell it to anyone who would apply for the Live Local Act (tax credits),” Constantine said. 



Don-Wes Flea Market reopening after devastating fire

Months after a fire nearly destroyed the Don-Wes Flea Market, vendors are now preparing to welcome people back.

The flea market announced they’re holding a soft opening on Saturday, October 15 before fully reopening on Saturday, November 12.

The flea market has been around for 26 years, it caught fire on July 16.

The Hidalgo County Fire Marshal said the cause of the fire was ruled as “undetermined.”

For owners Debbie and Jim Fitzgerald, the flea market represented their livelihood, as well as that of the vendors who set up shop there.

"We're still in the clean-up process, we've got a lot of rubble to clean up, but we're getting there," Jim Fitzgerald said.

The owners waited until the Hidalgo County Fire Marshal gave them the go-ahead to start rebuilding.

“It's like the phoenix, we rise from the ashes,” Debbie Fitzgerald said.  

The fire ruined most of the 26,000 square feet lot, affecting most of the local vendors who live behind the market. 

Some vendors were able to salvage their RV homes.

There are also plans to add air-conditioned cafés and restaurants to the market.