A flea market is many things to many people. It can be a place to go to browse, swap, buy or sell. It can also be a place to recycle your old items, providing a new place for them to go and perhaps find a new use for them.
But to the vendors of the Mancos Flea Market, it seems to be a place to come to, not only sell their wares, but to be sociable, to see what others have to offer and to meet new people.
Kathe Byrne, a vendor who set up her booth only two weeks after the flea market started said, "It's been a very good experience. It's helped me to de-clutter my life!" Byrne had a retail store in the Bauer Bank Building in Mancos from 2001 to 2003, so she knows that retail sales go up and down. "This is a really good group of people here . we work well together. And I'm getting to see people I haven't seen in a number of years!"
The Mancos Flea Market, located in the old Mancos Hardware Store on Main Street, started in September 2012. Joan Krajack, the owner, and Bobbi Black, had the idea to have it available two weekends a month, originally. They started out with about five vendors at the time. Then, Krajack, who goes south for the winter, left the key to the building, and the job of coordinating all the vendors, to Queenie Barz. There is no pay for the job she has; just a few dollars from the pop, coffee and donuts. And, the camaraderie and appreciation that she gets every week.
Barz, who is also office manager for Hospice of Montezuma in Cortez, stays busy at the flea market. Two of the booth spaces there are devoted entirely to donation of items from people who want to help Hospice.
"All money from the sales goes to Hospice services," said Barz. "These items are all donated to Hospice, and since we're a nonprofit organization, we don't say no to anyone."
The number of vendors is up to 38 now, Barz said. And there is only room for a couple more. But things are changing all the time - some vendors are coming in, some are leaving and some are combining their booth space to make room for more. One of the newer vendors, Marguerite Scott, expressed her happiness at being at the flea market. "It is now my social life," she said. "But I also need money for gas and cat food. I just love all the vendors!"
Gail Bertram, with whom Scott shares a space, said much the same thing. Even though she's been a vendor since the first part of November, she, too, has come to think of the flew market as her "social life". She enjoys "getting a little green", as she refers to the money she makes, but she also enjoys the supportive atmosphere, the generosity and helpfulness of everyone. "Nothing has gone missing from anyone's space; we all work together and there is a huge variety of expertise here! We're like a bunch of carnies!"
In Todd Starkey's booth, you can find saddles, boots, and all kinds of equipment for working around horses. His booth is not the only one like it, but he said he's been at the flea market since October. "Some weekends are good; some are not so good," he said. But, to him, it's worth it to come and be there every weekend. "If nothing else, it's a good place to hang out."
Marianne Rahricht has had her booth at the flea market since the end of October and it has really been a good thing for her spiritually. "It really brings people together," she said. "All the vendors look out for each other. It's like a family!," she said, with a smile. "I love being here!"
Barz said the traffic coming through the flea market has increased over the weeks since they opened. "There is return traffic and new traffic all the time," she said. "I'm really pleased with it."
Antique dealers also love the flea market. Doug May and his partner Linda Talley have had a booth space there since Nov. 1, but they also have a booth at the Antique Mall in Dolores. They are one of several antique dealers that have chosen to have their presence at the flea market. "It's been good," said May. "I don't come here just to sell. I'm here to buy, too. I've made some good networking contacts and I've gone out into the community and bought some things." May agrees that it's a "pretty nice group of people. They're very interesting and different and that's how you get the variety."
Sandy Rosen, and her husband, Jim Maxwell, have had a booth there since October. He is a member of the Artisans of Mancos and also sells his carved walking sticks. "Some days it clicks," said Rosen. "It just depends on what people want." But, she said, it's great to look at other people's stuff and see what they have. She enjoys the people, her fellow vendors, and said that "we're looking forward to spring when people will be getting out more."
Barz provides lunch for the vendors for both days of the weekend. For a minimal fee of $3, they don't have to go somewhere else for lunch - they can eat right there. Depending on what she decides to make that day - barbecue beef sandwiches, pork roast, Mexican casserole - it creates a wonderful smell when you walk in the door. The money from the lunches goes back into buying more food. Also, every third weekend of the month, the vendors all pitch in for a potluck lunch.
The vendors agree - Barz is the backbone of the flea market. "We couldn't do this without her," said Bertram.
So, if you're looking for antiques, jewelry, handmade items, furniture, tools, Western items, or just 'stuff', the flea market is the place to check out!
A booth space is only $15 for the weekend. Of that, $10 goes to Krajack to pay the lights, gas and insurance on the building. The rest goes to advertising, to pay for the gentleman to plow snow from the driveway, paper products, ice melt, etc. Barz can be contacted at 739-9320.
"I think we have a good selection of items," said Barz. "We have new stuff every weekend."