On March 1, Merchants’ Flea Market at Eglinton Avenue and Warden Avenue will reach its quarter-century milestone.
Vahe Kerim, president and owner of the market, shares the secret of the market’s longevity.
“A good location, management and advertising are key to our success,” Kerim said.
Jasie (who didn’t want to share her last name) travels from Midland and Eglinton to the market for her beauty needs and to browse the shops. It is her favourite market in town.
“Here I find quality goods at cheaper prices,” she said. “Other flea markets are more traditional, selling old goods, but this is not the case here, and that’s why it’s unique.”
Spread over 45,000 square feet, the market welcomes approximately 250 vendors on Saturdays and Sundays.
In a traditional sense the flea market is a place where old or used goods are sold, but this market brings a broader spectrum of merchandise. Shoppers will find fashion products, jewellery, housewares, home décor, electronics, cellphones, toys, food, manicure salons and barber shops.
But the backbone of the flea market is its vendors, who are mostly immigrants.
“We provide support to the vendors who are mostly immigrants, some of them are new in Canada,” Kerim said.
“So it is a great opportunity for them to start a small business in a safe atmosphere.”
The low overhead and the weekend hours make the flea market an attractive option for immigrant business owners.
“Shopping malls are open seven days a week. They are open for 10 to 12 hours a day. It is very difficult for family businesses to manage a store in a shopping mall. They would need staff, have larger spaces and pay higher rents,” Kerim explained.
“In a flea market overhead is very low, so vendors are able to sell their merchandise at lower prices.”
Hiralal Jaikaran has been in business for 13 years. He runs a juice bar called Juicing for Life, specializing in mango, banana and strawberry shakes which are mixed with sugar cane and fresh coconut water.
“My customers are very pleased and happy, so I’m happy too,” Jaikaran said. And now we are celebrating the market’s 25th anniversary.”