Sunday, April 22, 2018

After 28 years, flea market founder hands over the reins

Tom Rall

Tom Rall

Almost three decades ago, Tom Rall founded The Flea Market at Eastern Market. Now Rall is handing over the famed Washington D.C. swap meet to a management company, albeit one in which he holds part ownership. Rall is stepping down from his longtime day-to-day management role as of May 15, and handing control of the flea market to Diverse Markets Management, specifically, to DMM president Michael Berman. DMM was formed in in 2005, and the company already runs the Downtown Holiday Market in December. Berman has been associated with the Flea Market at Eastern Market as director of communications and of programming.

Quoted in a press release, Rall says, “Last year I signed up for Medicare and next month I’ll start receiving my Social Security retirement benefits, so I thought it’d be a good time to begin to wind down. But, primarily, I have tired of trying to fight City Hall,” noting that the District of Columbia took over a significant portion of the Sunday outdoor market in 2009 and possibly appears poised to take over the rest of the business as part of the Hine School Project. He said a recent task force report expected to lead to new Eastern Market legislation ignored a key automatic renewal provision in the current agreement with the city. FleaMarketZone.com recently reported that the developers of the Hine School Project are eager to keep the flea market as an integral part of the site redevelopment — but questions about who will win the right to manage the flea market remain unresolved. Still, it seems that DMM will be able to continue to manage the market at least through the period of its current lease, which is not up until 2013.

“After investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into developing The Flea Market at Eastern Market, which became my life’s work; I am confident it will be in good hands going forward,” Rall says. He will continue to be a strong presence at the market, as both a vendor and a consultant.

The Flea Market at Eastern Market is open every Sunday in the Hine School Yard at 7th & C Streets SE on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. It focuses on antiques, arts, collectibles, crafts and imported goods, with over 100 vendors. Food, beverages and entertainment are also featured.

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