Today we’d like to introduce you to Bill Jacobson.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Bill. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
About 9 years ago, I was chatting with the Mayor, Lois Frankel and I suggested to her that the city needed an antique and flea market. I had been collecting for several years and felt that the city was ready for one. West Palm had just spend tens of millions on its waterfront and a new City Hall. In order to draw folks to downtown, the Green Market was expanded. She quickly agreed with me and after a trip to NYC to look at some markets there, told the staff to work with me in permitting the market.
We started as a “rag tag” group in a parking lot near downtown and immediately drew many vendors, most of whom were not “professional” vendors. I spent a year establishing a name and deciding what to do to make the event more popular and how to upgrade it. The City and the Downtown Development Authority also worked with me on a better location. I established certain vendor requirements for appearance, created a web site, Facebook page and a Twitter account. The city recognized that the market was becoming very popular so we changed locations to be closer to the Green Market in the hear of our downtown. We are now in our 8th full season. We meet every Saturday from early October until late May when the city has its Sunfest. We tried to stay open during the summer but, it proved too hot and there are too many folks who leave the area during July and August. We now average between 40 and 45 vendors every week. We have a wide variety of offerings. All of our vendors are full time vendors who do other shows during the week but are loyal to our show on Saturdays. We are open from 8:30 or so until 2:00PM every Saturday. We have free parking and no admission fee.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The biggest struggle was getting the right mix of vendors and requiring that they put forth a professional appearance.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about West Palm Beach Antique and Flea Market – what should we know?
I have two lives. During the week, I am a real estate lawyer who owns a title insurance company called, Home Title America, Inc. So, this started out about 15 years ago as more of a hobby. It has grown and now takes up a couple of days a week to organize each weekly event. I have to arrange for advertising, marketing and city coordination as well as interviewing potential vendors as we don’t accept everybody. I also have to organize my weekly presentation as I am a full time vendor at the show. On Saturdays, I fit in well with the group. My offerings are primarily mid-century glass and furniture mixed with some “hooks” which I define as unique items that get people to stop by and look. When I set up, I work as hard or harder than other vendors to insure a professional presentation and to generate sales.
As to the show, I am most proud of the fact that we have grown from nothing to an acknowledged successful event that the city recognizes as an important part of the downtown fabric. We have people from Vero Beach to the West Coast of Florida and Miami who do the show so, I know that the show is “out there”. We also have shoppers from Vero to Miami who attend. All of the hotels have us on the “to do” board for guests. I have made many friends from the event and picked up a few clients as well, which is a double benefit.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
At the end of the second year, I was approached by a lady from NYC who wanted to purchase 50% of the show. She had some ideas that were useful but it just didn’t feel right so I declined the opportunity. I have an associate named Ray who, over several years, has taught me much about the overall business of buying and selling. I met Ray way before I started the show. I consider him my unofficial partner as the city prefers to deal with me as the owner and proprietor. I don’t make any changes to the event without discussing it with him and he doesn’t make any commitments to anyone without contacting me first. He is in charge of organizing the physical set up of the event each week while I am doing off site preparation. We are a pretty good team.
- permanent vendors pay $50/wk for a 10/10 spot
- one off vendors pay $60/wk
- Address: 105 S. Narcissus Ave.
- Website: wpbantiqueandfleamarket.com
- Phone: 561-670-7473
- Email: WPBANTIQUEANDFLEA@GMAIL.COM
- Twitter: @wpbafmarket.com