PINELLAS PARK, Fla. — The Wagon Wheel and Mustang Flea Markets in Pinellas Park are closing their doors for good.
Wagon Wheel has been in business for 55 years in Pinellas County, but the Huntley family says it's time to say goodbye.
Now, more than 1,500 vendors are scrambling to find a new place to sell their merchandise.
The closure shocked vendors and employees. Many tell ABC Action News that their families have sold goods at the flea market since it opened in the 1960s.
Merchants and employees found out on social media Wednesday that the flea market will stay closed, after shutting their doors in March over COVID-19 concerns.
The Huntley family, which owns the market, would only say it’s “time for a new chapter.”
Thomas Garrett has been a vendor at the flea market for 11 years.
“It's sad, that’s a lot of people to put out of business at one time,” he said.
Evelyn Brethauer, who also sells at the flea market agrees. "To me it was like they were family.”
Vendors can start picking up their merchandise on Monday and must have everything out by June 30th.
Joe Buercklin, who sells shaved ice at the Wagon Wheel says many people are still trying to figure out where they will go next. “I felt like a piece of me was taken away. Almost like my dog died because I know what this place means to so many people,” he said.
The Oldsmar Flea Market is waiving all deposits for any merchants who want to relocate, but that's a 20 mile haul.
“I drive a scooter. I can’t pull a scooter and a trailer all the way over to Oldsmar or out to Lakeland,” Garrett explained.
Lynn Andrews says the worst part is vendors feel like they were kept in the dark. “They didn’t even call us or anything to tell us they were closing,” she elaborated. “This day and age with communication in cyberspace, how hard would it have been to be personal and upfront with people? Most vendors have had permanent spots there for years.”
For vendors that currently have items on market grounds, the flea market will be open for removing merchandise and display only. No selling of merchandise is allowed.
The dates and times for pickup are as follows:
10am-4pm Monday June 15th-Friday June 19th
Monday June 22nd-Friday June 26th,
Monday June29th and Tuesday June 30th.
After June 30th no one will be allowed on the premises. When booths are completely empty, refunds will be issued.