Flea markets could soon pop up across Minneapolis after a City Council committee recommended lifting a long-standing ban on the bazaars Thursday.
Saying local business owners sparked his interest in the topic, Council Member Gary Schiff proposed the ordinance change. He said flea markets can help to enliven and add character to neighborhoods.
“Like farmers markets, flea markets can help create a fun weekend activity for neighborhoods,” he said.
The City Council’s Committee on Regulatory, Energy and Environment recommended approving the change after hearing citizens’ support and concerns in a public hearing.
Anthony Shane, owner of Flamingo’s Divine Finds, brought the issue to Schiff’s attention after the city shut down his flea market.
“We did try a flea market when we first opened and we were closed down,” he said. “We weren’t aware of the ordinance.”
Shane said most residents near his Powderhorn neighborhood shop support flea markets.
Julie Casey, lead inspector for the city’s Third Ward, said the city received near-unanimous support from citizens on the issue, with slight concerns about parking and disturbances.
Nicolle Toth-Braunberger, who owns a unit at the Sexton condominium downtown, said she’s a big fan of flea markets but worries that they’ll worsen congestion already brought on by summer attractions such as food trucks.
“I just don’t see that a flea-market atmosphere would really fit into the core of downtown Minneapolis,” she said.
Toth-Braunberger said she’d support flea markets on the fringe of downtown and outward.
Farmers market representatives generally support flea markets coming to town, Schiff said, but they do have some concerns.
Responding to a request for feedback from the city, David Brauer, board chairman of the Kingfield and Fulton farmers markets, wrote that the markets’ main reservation was the proposed ordinance’s 25 percent cap on food vendors. He said having too many food vendors at flea markets could hurt farmers markets.
The committee took Brauer’s advice and changed the proposed ordinance’s cap to a maximum of 10 percent food vendors.
Brian Arola is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.