The Mile High Flea Market in Henderson, CO, has been operating since 1976. Rob Sieban, CEO, brings more than two decades of retail and merchandising expertise to the Market. Previously, Sieban served as a VP of Operations for MBH Enterprises LLC, a diversified holding company. In addition to his experience as CEO, Sieban has held many executive level positions in the direct to consumer market including EVP of BriteSmile, Lids Corp., Illuminations, Director of Operations Pier 1 Imports and Sunglass Hut International.
Sumner Communications editor, Gloria Mellinger, recently spoke with Sieban on the state of his market and the flea market industry.
Editor: Colorado has experienced some of the worst wildfires in its history. Was your market affected?
Sieban: “The wildfires have subsided and based on the weather pattern that was present during the fires we did not experience a lot of smoke or haze. We were very fortunate.”
Editor: Have you been able to help those markets near you that were affected?
Sieban: “We have a pretty strong not for profit program at the market. It’s open to everyone whether you’re a church, school or community member. We donate space and a portion of the box office. If a school pulls together their garage sale items, we give them flyers to hand out and we give them $1 for each flyer that is redeemed. We’ve had a couple of people from local churches come out to help the victims of the fires and they’ve taken space on the pavement. They band together and we give them three or four spaces to sell their merchandise.”
Editor: How large is your market?
Sieban: “It’s 80 acres and we are 10 minutes north of downtown Denver. On an annual basis we see in excess of one million guests. Our vendor community is very strong so on an average weekend we have 1,500 to 1,800 different vendors selling.”
Editor: Has business picked up at your market this year?
“We are always challenged by the weather because we are an outdoor market. But we were very fortunate in Q1 and most of Q2 with very strong performance so we were up in buyer attendance, seller population and in overall revenue. This is a great model to come out and make extra money, buy things at a value price point or get something unexpected that you happened to stumble upon during your visit.”
Editor: Who owns and operates the Market?
Sieban: “The market is owned by a private equity firm as well as myself. I really love the business and I oversee the executive management team on a daily basis.”
Editor: What percentage of the market sells new vs. used merchandise?
Sieban: “About 40 percent of the market is new and 60 percent is repurposed. We work hard to ensure we have a diversity of product represented for the buyer community.”
Editor: Did you recently change your market’s name?
Sieban: “We recently reverted to our previous name. Mile High Flea Market was renamed under previous leadership about five years ago to Mile High Marketplace. Through a survey, we asked our buyers and sellers what they thought about the “Marketplace” name versus the “Flea Market” and we found we would always be “the Flea Market” to them. So we went back at the beginning of this year to the history of the flea market by changing the name. As such we relaunched our website to have it replicate the experience you would have on pavement.”
Editor: Do you host special events at your market?
Sieban: “Yes, every weekend from May to September we have live entertainment throughout the market. We typically have two to three bands on the 80 acres. We also have special events throughout the year. We have a 25,000 square foot event center. In fact this weekend, we are having a rock and roll memorabilia event in partnership with a local radio station. We have invited sellers from near and far to set up in the event center. We will have a popular local band performing and we will have an appraiser who will appraise your rock and roll memorabilia. We also celebrate seasonal events such as Mexican Independence Day in September and one of our biggest special events is the Halloween Haunt. It brings out a significant amount of people. We also do car shows and collectible shows and things of that nature throughout the year.”
Editor: Do you charge an extra fee for special events?
Sieban: “We don’t charge an extra fee. Today, we are focused on enhancing the value for the consumer. Our admission is $3 per adult on Saturdays and Sundays and $2 on Friday and children 11 and under are free.”
Part two of the interview with Rob Sieban will be in an upcoming edition of the PROVENDOR members’ newsletter. To register for free and receive the monthly newsletter, special discounts and deals, and all the benefits of membership, please click here.