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Historic Laurel Flea Market in Jeopardy Following Proposal to Demolish and Build Gas Station


LAUREL, DE -- The Laurel Planning and Zoning Committee approved preliminary site plans on Feb. 14 from Bohler Engineering to purchase the Laurel Junction Flea Market, demolish part of the building, and build a Wawa. 

On Thursday, Laurel Town Manager Jamie Smith confirmed the approval and says that according to the plan, the businesses on the back side of the site would not be torn down. 

However, for others like Fred Adams, owner of Out of the Attic Antiques, their days could be numbered. Adams says he's been on edge since rumors about the potential demolition began a few months ago. 

"How much notice am I going to get?" says Adams. "Am I going to be able to move to another place? Am I going to be able to find another place? I don't know how I am supposed to plan for my business." 

Vendor Patricia Dodd says she doesn't understand the need for a new Wawa with a Royal Farms across the street and an Exxon gas station next door. 

"Why would they bring more congestion to this area when the intersection is already congested?" says Dodd. "On the weekends, it is much worse." 

But others are welcoming the idea with open arms. 

"I love Wawa," says Laurel resident Tony Radewonuk. "Price wise and just the things they have. Plus, [the developers] are taking down buildings that are decrepit and pretty rundown anyways." 

According to Smith, the engineers and developers must now get approval from State agencies before presenting final site plans to town officials for approval or denial. ​​​​​


Alemany Flea Market vendors hope for the best but fear the city’s budget knife

For decades, the Alemany Flea Market has been a Sunday ritual in San Francisco, drawing thousands of bargain hunters and vendors to a large parking lot in the southeast corner of the city's Bernal Heights neighborhood.

But this past weekend, a sense of foreboding hung over the card tables piled with record albums, crockery, artwork, garden tools, hats, rugs, footwear, statues, toy cars and wicker baskets.

The city decided a few weeks ago to soon shutter the Civic Center’s Fulton Plaza flea market. Now vendors are worried that the much-larger Alemany Flea Market could be the next to go.

A city spokesperson confirmed last week that all municipal programs were in the process of being evaluated for potential cuts due to fiscal constraints, but said no final decisions had been made regarding Alemany.

But in the run-up to a March 29 end-date for several vendors at the Civic Center Fulton Plaza flea market, several vendors who spoke to The Standard on Sunday said they fear their weekly community hub could become another casualty of San Francisco's budget woes.

​Jon Rolston said vendors had only recently heard about any possibility of closure. Rolston has sold items at Alemany for a decade. He brings salvaged and reusable goods to Alemany every Sunday that he argues would otherwise be likely to wind up in a landfill.

"What better way to divert usable items from the waste stream of the city than a flea market?" he said.

"It's an invaluable resource. It would be offensive that they would consider closing this, but it makes sense, because this is not glamorous and not a jewel in the crown of San Francisco."

Luis De Avila, 70, said closing Alemany would be a blow to working-class families who come to buy, sell and swap collectibles as a hobby and a supplemental income source. De Avila has been frequenting street markets in San Francisco since he moved here from Mexico in 1968.

"I restore stuff for antiques or whatever. Then I sell them," De Avila said. "I make a little bit of money, the city makes a little bit of money. It's a great place for the community."

He believes budget issues are merely a convenient excuse for officials eyeing the market's prime real estate for more profitable uses.

Bryan Wilson, who drives down from Oregon once a month to sell at Alemany, said the market creates an interdependence between vendors and surrounding communities.

"I would say it supports my family," Wilson said. "I'll end up making a month's worth of income in one weekend, with the devoted customers and clientele that I've established over the years."

He said market administrators are pretty strict about not allowing unlicensed vendors: "They're very on point. We protect ourselves very heavily. Anybody encroaching on it gets stomped out pretty quickly."

​While the market's several-dozen vendor stalls are tightly regulated and screened for prohibited goods, some enterprising vendors set up merchandise curbside along Tompkins Avenue Sunday morning before being shooed away by police.

One of the vendors, Robert Perlman, speculated that he'd have to take his wares to East Oakland's Coliseum Way swap meet if Alemany closes

​Other vendors described Alemany as a one-of-a kind bazaar frequented by bargain hunters of all stripes, from wealthy collectors and antique dealers to handymen, treasure seekers and people nursing hangovers.

"Please don't close it," said one vendor who would only give her first name, Georgina. "We need our little income from this. It helps the family."



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.