800 flea market vendors in Brampton feel a loss of community after abrupt closure
Three weeks after the closure of the 747 Flea Market in Brampton, long-time vendors are still feeling the sting at the loss of their community.
For some, the Steeles Ave. location provided a second family as the vendors had come to know each other over the years having spent their weekends together for such a long time.
The same can be said about the relationship between the vendors and their customers, many of whom would spend hours on a Saturday or Sunday shopping and browsing through the site's three buildings and taking advantage of the rich variety of food available at lunch time.
It all ended April 20 when vendors were sent a notice saying the flea market would be permanently closed.
After undergoing months of uncertainty about opening procedures because of the pandemic, the operators of the 747 Flea Market notified the vendors that the owner of the property had decided that enough is enough and shut the whole thing down.
"After more than thirty years of business in Brampton, the 747 Flea Market has closed its doors for good," the notice began. "Our landlord has decided to tear the buildings down and build a warehouse, which is less prone to rental income loss due to closures."
The vendors then had a few days to get their goods removed from the booths.
A subsequent check has found that no formal submissions have been made to the City of Brampton to redevelop the site. Rumours say the location is being eyed by Amazon as the future home of another fulfillment centre, or possibly as a large storage warehouse for another company, but neither report can be confirmed by the offices of Brampton councillors from the area where the flea market once stood. The actual owner of the property also cannot be confirmed.
Jinee Kaur is one vendor who watched her community slowly disappear in the past few months and then totally vanish with the news that the 747 Flea Market was closing for good.
Reprinted below is an open letter Kaur has written about her experience. She hopes it will catch the attention of the landlord, the person or group who owns the property where the flea market once thrived. She doesn't know who they are or how to reach them. She sent the letter to inbrampton.com in the hope that they will see it.
The letter has not been edited or altered in any way.
To the Owner of Vendors Flea Market & 747 Flea Market at Airport & Steeles, Brampton.
Mr. Owner of our Flea Market,
You don't know me just like you don't know the 800 odd vendors who have been displaced by your abrupt decision to tear down a building that had been a source of livelihood to hundreds of people for years!
I am Jinee and my husband is Gee, people know us as the young couple who sell perfumes at the Flea Market at Airport & Steeles. Perhaps you don't know but your building was a landmark.
For decades, people flocked here every weekend to enjoy everything this place had to offer.
It was about 20 years back when we decided to start a part time business here, at your Flea Market. At that time little did we know that it would become such an essential part of our lives.
Flea Market gave us more than just an extra income. We made our best friends here. We met people from all walks of lives who shared their experiences and invaluable advice. This Flea Market, Mr. Owner, had a life and a soul of its own which will now be gone forever.
It was heartbreaking to watch tears roll down the eyes of the lady who heard the news of this Flea Market shutting down. To her, this was her little weekend escape. She hopped on the bus every other Sunday just to take a stroll in here. She would stop and say Hello to some of her favorite vendors including me! Sometime she would stop and chat a little longer, talking about her health and asking me about my kids. We would laugh a little and then she would move on. I don't know if I'd ever see her again. Neither would I see Cassandra, the lovely lady who always stopped by my booth to show me her new hair color, nor would I able to meet Nina who loved to show me her grandkids pictures every time she came by. I feel disappointed to know I didn't get a chance to say Goodbye to them… you didn't give us that chance Mr. Owner.
Mr. Owner, I couldn't say 'Goodbye' to any of my favorite seasonal farm workers who would come here every year before leaving to their countries to buy little gifts for their loved one's!
Some of them would bring back souvenirs from their countries for me and Gee and we cherished them more than anything. It was so heartwarming to hear their stories from the farms and how their families back home enjoyed all the colognes and other gifts they got for them!
I would dearly miss them as much as they would miss this Flea Market. Also, I would miss seeing all the folks who came every summer from Australia, New Zealand, Europe, South America and of course from The States and from all the other parts of the world. They would make it a point to visit us at least once in the Market when they were here visiting their families over the summer break or the Holidays! Me and Gee loved to hear their stories and watch their little ones grow from babies to toddlers to 6 ft tall teenagers! How would we ever meet them again?
Small businesses are a vital part of the community. They are more than just a business; they are a piece of its culture unlike the bigger businesses. Over the years, we built a strong relationship and bond with our customers. We don't interact with them like strangers but as our own family.
This is incomparable to anything else, something the Big Box Stores can never offer and something that Amazon will never provide! Mr. Owner, you don't know what you have taken away from this community!
I know life goes on. Me and Gee would like to thank all our beloved customers and everyone else who was a part this Flea Market. We want them all to know we are who we are because of them and we will always miss them! We will continue to do business elsewhere but I know it will never be the same. All of us in the Flea Market were a family. We have now been divided and we will have to find different homes. We wish Good Luck to all our fellow Vendors and hope to see them again if fate ever brings us back together.
To you Mr. Owner, I hope you'll someday realize what you took away from our lives when you gave us that sudden notice to vacate our beloved "Second Home" in less than 15 days!
Business owner at Vendor's Flea Market
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