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Temporary site for an open-air market in Charlotte has a slow start

It comes after months of back and forth with city leaders and vendors trying to come up with a permanent location for the market.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In the heart of Uptown Charlotte on Saturday, there was an open field, music playing, and a few dozen vendors ready to sell their goods.  

It was the first time in nearly eight months that vendors from the Eastland open-air flea market had a temporary location to set up.  

But many of the people at the open-air market today weren’t regulars at the East Charlotte market.  Vendors WCNC Charlotte spoke to said they signed up to be vendors at the temporary site mostly for the prime location.  

“It's right here in the heart of Uptown," Crystal Russell, one of the vendors, said. “And, you know, it's like, a lot of traffic. It's been a lot of people coming through and stopping in that lives in the community.”  

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Russell previously set up at the East Charlotte market once. She prefers the Uptown location, but unfortunately, there are no guarantees the vendors can set up their next week.  

Charlotte City councilman Tariq Bokhari took a victory lap on Twitter Friday night by highlighting more than 110 vendors registered for the market.

WCNC counted about a quarter of that number were set up around noon.  

Representatives of the flea market said in a statement Friday night they appreciate the temporary location but said in part “many worry that a location that will only be available for one weekend might confuse their customers.”  

They also criticized Bokhari for setting up the event “without vendors' input and agreement.”  

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Bokhari responded in a statement saying in part “Our understanding is that some vendors need a place to sell in order to support their family, so we wanted to act quickly on that.”  

One of the vendors who did migrate from the east Charlotte Market were Ramon Morales and Santos Penarieta. They sell assortments of fresh coconuts.  

“You pop up on the corner, and nobody's gonna come pretty much,” Penarieta said. “So there's a 50-50 chance. But if you got something like this, I think it'll be helpful for everybody to come in, put the business out, and grow.”  

Penarieta also noticed the lack of regular Eastland vendors.   

“I don't see pretty much a lot of people from over there,” he said.  

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He would like a permanent spot but is thankful for what was temporarily offered.  

“We try to give it our best we can to have everybody come and support us,” Penarieta said.  

They just need a permanent spot for this to happen every weekend.  

Contact Shamarria Morrison at smorrison@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

WCNC Charlotte is always asking "where's the money?" If you need help, reach out to WCNC Charlotte by emailing money@wcnc.com.

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