Shopping for bargains

Maryville Flea Market offers family-friendly business

For shoppers like Ted Moore, the Maryville Flea Market at 548 Foothills Mall Plaza Dr., has been added to his weekend rounds.

That is just one half of the success equation Maria Hunt Wright, owner of the new Maryville Flea Market, likes to hear. The other is for the vendors to also be happy.

After his first visit, Moore, a Maryville resident, said he would return. “I’m always coming out to these things to see what’s new.” Moore said the advantage to the new Maryville Flea Market is, “at least if it’s raining, I’ve still got one to go to.”

Moore said he mostly searches for car parts, books and collectible matchbox cars.

While holding a shopping bag of Hot Wheels he purchased on Sunday, Moore said, “There are two cars in here they (his 2-year-old and 5-year-old sons) can play with and one that I’ll have to tell them, ‘Nope, can’t play with that one.’”

Wright said the opening weekend, August 6-8, was a success, and she doubled the spaces leased the following weekend. “I got great feedback from the community," she said. “People were saying that Maryville really needs this.”

Wright and her husband, Keith Wright, began thinking about opening an indoor flea market a year ago. “My husband said that with the economy, a flea market would help the community.”

She said flea markets offer a wide selection. “Antiques and household items are probably the most popular.” Shoppers can also typically find collectibles, sports memorabilia, linens, books, movies, games, accessories, floral arrangements and handmade arts and crafts.

“Come often because there’s always new merchandise, and I have new vendors every weekend,” Maria said. “You’re going to see something different every time you come in.”

The Wrights are natives of Maryville and said garage sales have always been popular in this area. She said a flea market is the equivalent of hitting a minimum of 20 garage sales at once.

Wright said she has always enjoyed shopping at flea markets, particularly when her family is traveling. In fact, the new business is a family affair. Her three sons, Dylan, 13, Chad, 11 and Jared, 10, sell canned sodas at the flea market.

“This place has a family atmosphere,” Maria emphasized. “My children are here, so you should feel comfortable brining yours.”

Wright said because prices are low and there is something different to see every weekend, it is an ideal place for families to shop. “I know kids get tired of going to the same places, and parents spend big money at retail stores.”

In fact, one of Wright’s vendors, Angie Brown, offers low-cost treats and toys for children. “Moms bringing their kids can give them a dollar, and the kids can fill up a little brown paper bag,” Brown said. “There’s something here for every age.”

Brown said it is a good place for kids to spend their allowance. She sells toys from 50 cents to $2 as well as candy for a penny.

Wright said even though it is a great place for families, there is not a specific demographic at flea markets, “It’s just anyone looking for a bargain and for something unique,” she said.

Steve Amison, from Cleveland, Tenn., sells unique items that are shipped in from his wife’s family in China.

For instance, he sells the popular popcorn tops. “They look like little baby shirts but they stretch out, and they’ll fit just about anybody,” Amison said.

Amison also sells glass beads, sterling silver jewelry, leather products and non-alcohol perfumes and colognes. His wife is also an accomplished artist and her oil paintings that adorn the walls of his large booth are also for sale.

Vendor Rosemary Busko’s space is adorned with Christmas lights. She said, “I had the Santa Surplus Store in Midland several years ago, and I haven’t done anything since then so this is a way to get rid of the excess that was leftover."

Karen Simpson sells homemade arts and crafts. Simpson said, “I tell people if they buy anything from me here and it breaks or comes unglued, bring it back to me and I’ll fix it.”

Wright said relationships are already being developed between vendors and shoppers.

Debbie Mclendon, an accessories vendor who greets customers at the door, said, “Everybody here is really nice. They look after each other, and it’s just a really positive environment.”

Mclendon said the flea market is an ideal location to sell her products from her line “Trendsetters Accessories” because the rental fee is “very reasonable.”

Wright is still accepting vendors and leases space by the weekend or by the month. She said for the opening weekend, “All the vendors were pleased. Nobody was disappointed.”

She allows vendors plenty of time for set-up prior. “They have time to create a display. It’s not just thrown together.”

Wright said vendors can sign up to lease space during weekend hours at the flea market and need to do so at least one week prior. She can be reached at 865-898-3058.

Wright said the only negative feedback she has received has been choosing not to open on Sunday mornings.

“Going to church is a priority for my family," Maria Wright said. “I want others to have the same opportunity. I believe God will bless our business because we are honoring Him on Sunday mornings.”

The Maryville Flea Market is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

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