Flea market owner tries to rally vendors after forced closing

He calls closing "barbaric action"
Posted at 9:34 PM, Jun 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-16 02:52:30-04

Kathy Hennessy-Bailey said closing the USA Flea Market will put on her on the street.

“This is my life. 16 years I’ve been here.They could have gave us a heads up.”

Pasco County officials said they shut down the flea market in Port Richey because of hundreds of code violations.

RELATED: Pasco County flea market shuts down due to violations

They said some involving fire hazards and shoddy construction, could be life threatening.

But owner Ramesh Patel says the place was a wreck when he took it over in 2015, and he’s made improvements.

“You can’t build Rome overnight. But my vendors know how hard I work. It’s very fixable.”

Patel was in the hospital when word came about the shutdown, so Thursday was his first chance to meet with all the vendors who now have to leave.

He said he plans to fight what he calls the county’s “barbaric action.”

And many of the vendors don’t seem to place the blame on him.

“This is not going to be an overnight fix, but it can be something that we can all be proud of, “said vendor Veronica Johnson.

County officials said the vendors are victims of an unscrupulous landlord who took their rent money knowing very well the building wasn’t safe.

And it doesn’t appear any of them are getting any money back.

“When they bought the place they should have started fixing it up. It’s not the new owners. it’s the last owners, the owners before that. This poor guy took it over and it was already rundown,” said Hennessy-Bailey.

Other flea markets are offering to take vendors in, including the Airport Flea market in Brooksville.

Patel encouraged his venders not to move out and stick with him. 

But USA Flea Market is closed indefinitely.