Like many of us here at North Country Public Radio, I am a huge fan of thrift stores and flea markets. So it was with great pleasure that I noticed some time ago that a clothing store that had opened up when I first arrived here in Canton in 2011, Fashion Kraze, was adding a huge flea market. Since then I’ve spent many a happy hour cruising around the flea market, browsing and occasionally buying books and other groovy stuff.
But it seems that may not be an option for me any more — or may it? WWNY-TV is reporting that in spite of what seems like a somewhat acrimonious parting of ways between the store’s operator, Frank Monnett, and the owners of both the University Shopping Plaza, where the market’s located, and its vendors, the show may go on.
Let me explain. David Muraco (owner of a property management company in DeWitt) bought the University Plaza recently, and Frank Monett, who owns the flea market, says Muraco told him he doesn’t intend to keep the flea market in the plaza. So he stopped payment on the $6,000 rent check he’d sent to Muraco, prompting an eviction that’s scheduled for August 3.
Obviously the market’s approximately 100 venders are upset, particularly because many of them say Monett owes them money that he’s not giving them. WWNY says they haven’t been paid for their July sales, and “they were asked to sign notes that promised they would be paid for other money they’re owed within six months.” After many went into the store on Friday and over the weekend and moved their wares out, Monett seems to have made matters somewhat more acrimonious by entering the store on Monday when the vendors were meeting with Muraco and locking up the place. This from the Watertown Daily Times:
Mr. Monnett entered the store while the meeting was taking place, but kept the doors locked and refused to allow vendors inside to remove their inventory….Mr. Monnett said that over the weekend vendors stole soda that was in a cooler and he doesn’t want to let them in the store until he removes all of his belongings, including items in his own vendor booths.
Asked by a vendor if would unlock the doors, Mr. Monnett responded: “I can’t deal with that today. I’m trying to get all my stuff out so he (Mr. Muraco) can take possession.”
Domita L. Hogle, a vendor formerly of Colton, said it was unfair for Mr. Monnett to keep vendors from their merchandise.
“He screwed us out of thousands of dollars and he’s worried about his soda?” she said.
This is really a fascinating story. It seems something must be going on here beyond a business dispute, but who knows?
Muraco told WWNY that while he can’t make any promises for after Christmas, the vendors are welcome to remain (perhaps in smaller spaces) if they get together and figure out a way to pay rent to him directly (also less rent to go with smaller spaces). However, he doesn’t seem keen to keep the gigantic flea market as one of the “anchor” stores for the shopping center, and is reported to be actively seeking other tenants including a grocery and a bakery outlet. There’s a lot more gory details in the articles linked above; if you’re at all interested in these sorts of politics I highly recommend you check them out.
Meanwhile, in the Jefferson County town of Adams, another reseller of well-loved goods is facing the end of the road: The operators of the Hearthstone Ministries Thrift Store were in court Tuesday fighting eviction from the building where they’ve been operating on Church Street. William Sampson, who operates the store with his wife, the Rev. Susan Sampson, told the Watertown Daily Times that they want to buy the building (the price has been set, according to the owner’s attorney, at $180,000.)
Sampson says he’s looking to negotiate on the price, and that although the store has raised a few thousand dollars toward the purchase, there are only about $1,000 in the bank right now.
So we’ll see how these thrifty stories play out…and in the meantime there are still plenty of thrift stores and, since it’s summer, yard sales, to tide us over.