CLINTON COUNTY — Both now and looking toward the future, Caesar Creek Flea Market is striving to create a strong sense of community.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the huge indoor/outdoor shopping center wasn’t able to hold many of its usual indoor events.
“We did away with all of our indoor activities, in order to safely stay open for our customers. Instead, we hosted a series of outdoor drive-in events, such as movies, video and live concerts,” said Jackie Bickel, Caesar Creek’s general manager. “We want to get back to that traditional flea market vibe with live entertainment, trade shows, and the interactive events we’re known for.”
Bickel thought their plan of operation during the pandemic was a good balance of keeping the community feel of Caesar Creek while giving shoppers the confidence of being able to visit the market safely.
This upcoming year sees the return of events like their monthly car shows, swap meets and vintage shows. They’ve also seen a return of live indoor and outdoor music on the weekends.
For the future, Bickel said they’re letting trends and such dictate a lot of what their next steps are.
“Our dining areas are in full operation and there are no mask requirements, but recommendations,” she said. “At this point, it’s really up to the individual.”
She knows that people are looking forward to getting back to normal with the flea market.
“When we re-opened in May last year we saw a surge of customers. We weren’t sure if this was because we were one of the few destinations in the area that was open or if people were responding to the trend of supporting small local businesses the grew during the pandemic,” she said. “But our attendance has continued to grow, as well as the number of vendors that set up shop at the market.”
The inside market has very few vendor vacancies, but the outdoor market still has spaces for new vendors.
Many of the vendors inside have been involved with the flea market for years., including the likes of Rick’s Place (a seller of vintage items), rustic antique store The Shop, The Bookman, Bev’s Candles & Crafts, and many others.
Caesar Creek not only wants to bring in traditional vendors, but they also want to draw more farmers and local artisans.
“Our biggest goal this year is to have a shelter where producers have a space to sell local items throughout the entire season,” she said, noting how customers are willing to seek out quality food and merchandise from the local community.
According to their website, some benefits of selling at Caesar’s Creek include being able to rent a space by the day, weekend or month; being situated next to I-71; and seeing over 5,000 patrons per weekend.
With ideas like this, continued support from locals, and upcoming events like the Taste of SOHO (Southern Ohio) coming in August, the flea market not only survived 2020, but is on track to thrive in 2021.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574