PILOT MOUNTAIN — Vendors involved in the Pilot Mountain Flea Market are looking for another space for their wares following town commissioners’ action selling portions of The Pilot Center for a local business expansion.
According to Pilot Mountain Town Manager Homer Dearmin, two units of Pilot Center Condominium were purchased by Otay, LLC contingent on a construction loan being approved from Surrey Bank and Trust of $750,000. Information supplied by the town indicates Otay’s offer of $213,000 reflects a $20,000 initial payment with an additional payment of $193,000 at closing.
“We notified the vendors months ago and then confirmed this with a formal letter in November to give them a total of 45 days notice as we’d promised them,” said Dearmin.
Dearmin explained that the contract with Otay had been signed on Tuesday. The space will be used to expand local company Sports Solutions’ knitting operations.
“The expansion will add to the tax base of the town as the business continues to grow and expand,” said Dearmin. He said the town has supplied information about local property owners who might have a new location suitable for the market.
He said the town intends to be “as supportive as we can” for the group of about 45 vendors affected by the decision.
“We hope there will be someone in Pilot Mountain who will accommodate them,” added Dearmin. “This represents a significant capital investment for Otay as well.”
One of the vendors affected by the expansion is Judi Aiuppy of Roughrider Farrier Works. She indicated the market will be shut down on Jan. 14.
“The works part is me,” joked Aiuppy. “I make magnetic western style jewelry, handmade soap, shea butter and I even decorate some of the horseshoes I get from my husband, Charles. The city of Pilot Mountain will be loosing 45 different businesses and approximately 75 jobs. Each vendor in the flea market is its own separate business. Everybody is looking around for a place to go. So far, we haven’t had any luck.”
She said the vendors really want to remain an indoor flea market. Many of the possible locations do not have electricity or heat.
“We (the vendors) don’t want to go outside. All the people that go in and out of the market will also be affected,” said Aiuppy. “People from all over come to the market regularly. I alone have 50 people a year from all over that come to just see me.” Aiuppy, who has been a vendor at the market for five years, says the market draws a lot of people to the area, many as repeat customers.
Aiuppy pointed out that the vendors and the flea market pay the town rent and also have to pay for licenses like any other businesses in the town. She said that taking into account each vendor having someone to help them, a total of 75 persons will be affected when the market closes.
“I can’t begin to tell you the number of people we see come through here every year,” added Aiuppy. “We have our regulars weekly. Many of them have suggested buildings to us, but the leads haven’t worked out. The rent for some properties is just too high for us to afford. We’d like to stay in the Pilot Mountain area. Really this whole issue has been going on for five years. They (the city) are not working with us.”
Aiuppy said anyone with ideas for the vendors is welcome to contact Jackie Felts at 336-971-9346 or Carolyn Felts at 336-971-9347. She said they would be interested in ideas from Mount Airy as well and would consider re-locating.
The market is open on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. She announced the annual flea market food drive will be held this Sunday. Activities will include a raffle. Participants must be present to win and proceeds will benefit local families.
“We do this every year and we’d like to continue to do this,” said Aiuppy. “If anyone knows of some place that least 20 or 30 businesses can find a new home in and start back up, let us know soon because time is running out.”
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.