A small-town banker and garage sale shopper named Kent Wollenhaupt had been looking for a way to make a buck and help develop his community in Wapello, Iowa. “Kent purchased an auction barn and wasn’t sure what to do with it, but he is big into economic development, and helping the town. So he came up with the idea to do the flea market. He organized and got the first market started,” explains Crystal Schreurs, a local flea market vendor. “I happened to be at that market, and one thing led to another. Now I’m the one who organizes it.”
The Wapello Flea Market launched at that old barn earlier this year, and the monthly swap meet doubled its vendors after five sessions, from 28 to 60. The market can accommodate up to 100 vendors.
Writing on his Facebook page, Wollenhaupt explains his goals. “My involvement with the community and my collecting interest is probably the reason I’ve started the Wapello Market. I’m in this to make money, bottom line to any business, but if I make very little I will have enjoyed every bit of it and in the process bought economic activity to our county.”
An experienced vendor who has sold decor items at flea markets, Schreurs says that the vendors run the gamut from food to crafts to antiques. “Really, anything except animals,” she says. “We also try to do something extra each month.” She mentioned face painting, airbrush tattoos, music, and a car show.
Prices start at $20 for an outside space, and both parking and admission are free. Held every third weekend of the month, the Wapello Flea Market operates April through October — with no heat in that barn, it’s closed in winter. For more information, check out the market’s Web site, Facebook page, or call (559) 927-3556.
Photo credits, with thanks: Wapello Flea Market.