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Nashville Flea Market opens this Friday at new location

When the September Nashville Flea Market opens Friday, it will be at a new location in three new buildings and several open-air sheds in another part of Fairgrounds Nashville.

The new $37.5 million Expo Center replaces the sprawl of sheds and aging exhibit buildings that housed the flea market for 50 years on its former site.

The new space includes three adjoining brick-and-metal air-conditioned buildings, with a (gross) total of 130,000 square feet. There are also two large sheds, space for dozens of vendors in the show arena and some outdoor booth spaces under canopies. Plus there are areas along the perimeter of the property where vendors can bring their own tents to set up shop.

Much of the flea market experience is the same as always: Admission will still be free, the number of vendors is about the same, and the array of merchandise will be very similar to what frequent flea market shoppers are accustomed to.

Still, a lot has changed, so here are some things to know before you go.

When is the September market?

The flea market dates are Sept. 27-29. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Where is the new market?

The new Expo Center, which will be home to the flea market and other perennial events like Christmas Village, is on the east side of the Fairgrounds Nashville property. The new complex is down the hill from the old exhibit buildings, and accessible from Wedgewood Avenue and from the Bransford/Benton Avenue side of the property.

Admission and parking

Flea market admission is free, and

parking is $5.

Where to park

The parking situation has been one of the thorniest issues associated with the relocation of the flea market. As you drive into the Fairgrounds property from either entrance, parking attendants will direct you to available parking, some of which is in the areas where flea market patrons have always parked and in a field on the south corner in the the area, known as Fair Park. There will also be parking available at the speedway and shuttles from the various lots, which have a combined total of 3,500 parking spaces.

Vendors

Market officials expect about 500 vendors and 1,300 booths, which is about the same number of vendors as usual for the September market.

Reaction to the relocation has been positive, said flea market manager Mary Ann Smith. “We have five pages of waitlisted people, vendors who want to come,” she said.

When assigning booths in the new space, Smith and her team tried to keep together permanent vendors who had been located near one another in the former configuration.

She gave vendors tours of the new space during last month’s market, showing them where they would be in the new complex.

“Most of them were surprised at how big it looks. I think most of them were impressed,” Smith said.

Flea market booth prices were adjusted slightly with the move, Smith said. The price range in the new set up is $50 to $135 for the weekend, compared to the previous range of $35 to $130 for a weekend booth in the old market.

Food options

D&D Events, which has the concessions contract for the Fairgrounds, has expanded its Skyliner Grill menu to include a salad bar and more healthy choices along with the usual burgers and homestyle cooking items.

The new Skyliner is located in Expo 2. D&D’s Randy Dyce says there will be indoor and outdoor seating, and a number of food kiosks in the Expo centers serving prepared items like lemonade, popcorn and pretzels. He also said that once the courtyard area of the complex is finished, there will be food trucks at the flea market and other events.

Finding your favorite booths

The Show Arena, which has room for 138 vendors, will house most of the booths that were in the shed known as “antique alley”; Expo 3 will accommodate most of the vendors from seven of the old buildings, including the Banquet Hall, Vaughn Building, Sports Arena, Wilson Hall and Arts and Annex building; Expo 2 will be filled with vendors from the Creative Arts Building; and Expo 1 will feature the vendors that were previously in the Exhibit Hall and Agriculture Building.

Flea market offices

The flea market office shares space at the back of Expo 1 with the staff of Fairgrounds Nashville. Contact the flea market office at 615-862-5016.

Pickup locations for large items

There are two designated locations for customers to pick up large items. The vendor you buy from will be able to direct you to the right one for your items.

What’s better for vendors

The Expo Center offers improved and new amenities, including easier loading situations, with roll-up doors and designated loading areas. There are also cement floors in the sheds, in-floor electrical in the buildings, and outdoor Wi-Fi.

What is better for customers

Designers say there should be less walking, nice clean restrooms, efficient air conditioning, a wider choice of food options and easier pickup for items purchased.

Details:

thefairgrounds.com/fleamarket or 615862-5016 Reach Ms. Cheap at 615-259-8282 or mscheap@tennessean.com. Follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/mscheap, and at Tennessean.com/mscheap, and on Twitter @Ms_Cheap, and catch her every Thursday at 11 a.m. on WTVFChannel 5’s “Talk of the Town.”

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