Concerned about possible regulation that could be detrimental to their business, local flea market representatives have appealed to city hall to make those fears known and question the need for such oversight.
“We’ve had it for 16 years — we’ve never had no problems — all at once we’re having problems,” Roy Tyree, an owner of Bonnie Lou’s Flea Market on Carter Street said of the intent and timing behind that push.
“We’re not here to hurt no one,” added Tyree, who was speaking during a public forum portion of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners’ meeting last Thursday night.
Fletcher “John” Edwards, another person associated with Bonnie Lou’s, also spoke during the public forum regarding the regulation process.
The issue first arose early this month, when Jim Armbrister, Mount Airy’s at-large commissioner, requested that the city government begin exploring new rules for outdoor flea markets. Two such operations are known to exist in Mount Airy, Bonnie Lou’s and Mayberry Flea Market, located on North Andy Griffith Parkway, which tend to be filled with patrons on weekends.
There was a consensus among Armbrister’s fellow board members during the commissioners’ Aug. 4 meeting to launch the regulatory process. It will include planning department personnel studying the issue and proposing a list of rules at some point for officials to consider.
Armbrister said he had been urged to initiate regulation at the request of a “significant number” of citizens, to address basic structural and other standards regarding flea markets, and he reiterated that during Thursday night’s meeting.
“Health and sanitation, again, are the things we’re looking at,” said Armbrister, who previously mentioned the availability of public restrooms as one area of concern.
He assured the flea market representatives present that the intent behind increased regulation is not to damage such businesses, but to build up and enhance the operations.
Armbrister said one of the priorities of city government has always been to help existing local businesses grow. “To support these and make them better.”
He said the overall goal of the proposed regulation is to “have a good environment” for both flea market operators and customers.
However, the Bonnie Lou’s representatives did not appear totally convinced that what’s under way now won’t hamper their operations. One main concern appeared to be new requirements that might pose additional costs.
Tyree said Bonnie Lou’s does not make a lot of money and indicated that the profits which are realized basically go into keeping the place going.
There have been suggestions that the push for new regulation on outdoor flea markets stems from the opening of the city greenway connector earlier this summer, which goes right by Bonnie Lou’s Flea Market.
Tyree addressed appearance concerns during the public forum, specifically trash that might find its way onto the flea market site from time to time. “It comes from stores above us,” the market owner said in reference to a nearby shopping center.
Edwards, the other representative who spoke, acknowledged that there have been appearance problems on occasion with individual vendors but that every effort is made to keep the grounds tidy.
Armbrister said Thursday night that the alleged trash problems at the shopping center will be addressed.
No timetable has been announced as to when the proposed outdoor flea market regulations will be presented.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.