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Vendors and many longtime shoppers recall the good times at Saturday's Market

By Laura Hayes

laurahayes@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 10/16/19

Jessica Owens has been coming to Saturday’s Market since she was a youngster.

“My dad, who recently passed away, used to bring me out here all the time on Saturday mornings when I was …

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Vendors and many longtime shoppers recall the good times at Saturday's Market

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Jessica Owens has been coming to Saturday’s Market since she was a youngster.

“My dad, who recently passed away, used to bring me out here all the time on Saturday mornings when I was a little kid. We’d get fake tattoos and chicken. It was a whole bunch of little odds and ends, little trinkets that we would find,” Owens said. “I miss those days.”

Owens, who lives in Palmyra, now brings her own kids to Saturday’s Market to keep the tradition alive.

Owens was one of the many people who ventured out to the market over the weekend to buy produce, beauty products and decorations for Halloween.

Last week, news broke that Saturday’s Market would be closing permanently Dec. 2. But just before noon last Saturday, Saturday’s Market off Route 230 in Londonderry Township was in full swing. Traffic was backed up past Toll House Road.

“The next five, six weeks, I just want to make it a happy time. I was very busy this morning — busier than I usually am in the mornings. People are coming out that have not been here in a long time,” said Emy Miller of Emy’s Candy Land.

Vendor Edith Vuxta called them sympathy shoppers — people who hadn’t heard of the market, but wanted to check it out before it closed.

“I don’t care as long as they bring some cash,” she said with a laugh.

People stopped by her stand and asked if the market was closing, and Vuxta shared what she knew.

Vuxta has had her stand in the outside portion of Saturday’s Market for about 20 years. It started as a way for her and her sister to get rid of odds and ends, but over the years, Vuxta has sold candles, produce and homemade wooden signs.

A lot of people come for the social aspect, she said.

“To see people, to visit. You get to know a lot of people around here. You get a lot of friends, and it’s going to seem weird not getting up Saturday mornings and coming to Saturday’s Market,” Vuxta said.

There were rumors for more than a year, Vuxta said. Letters were sent to indoor vendors. They had to pay rent through Nov. 30 and remove all of their property by Dec. 1.

One vendor, Tracy McGoyne of Smokin’ Sweet, said they had to make appointments on Thursdays or Fridays to come and get their merchandise — only on those two days.

“I was very upset. I mean, they’re giving us less than 15 days because people think November to December, no that’s 30 days. But when you’re only given two days a week, it comes out to 15 days,” McGoyne said.

Bill Lang, of BL Custom Guitars, said he heard indirectly from someone who worked at Saturday’s Market that it was closing.

“I found out on the news just like everyone else,” Lang said.

People called, asking if he’d heard the news. “I wasn’t surprised, but I was kind of annoyed at the way they were doing it a little bit. They expect you to pay the last month’s rent and be here when they have a deposit on you already. Why don’t they just use that deposit for the last month’s rent?”

Some vendors, he said, plan to leave before then and may lose their deposit. Other vendors told the Press & Journal that they had to make appointments to remove their merchandise and that it could only be done on Thursdays and Fridays.

Lang brings guitars back and forth to try to sell them online. He runs a street rod store, but he plans to open a store in New Cumberland and figure out how to transport the guitars that line the walls of his store.

“They’re not going to have this place emptied when they want it empty. It’s just not going to happen. It’s going to be a mass mess of people trying to get everything out of here,” Lang said.

This is the busiest season until February because kids come to the market wanting to spend their Christmas money, said one vendor who asked not to be named.

One day before the notice came, Miller spent several hundred dollars on merchandise for the holiday season. She plans to take some of her merchandise to her new locations, including Trellis Marketplace in Elizabethtown.

“I was trying to open in Manheim where my next location is opening in November. So it’s just a lot. I just wish we would’ve known,” Miller said.

Miller has run the stand with her daughter, Irina, for three years. When her husband passed away, weekends were hard. But when she dusted off her Emy’s Candy Land sign, which hangs in front of her store, Saturdays became the day that she spends with Irina.

“This is what we did together,” Miller said.

Bernard Rose started the market in 1957, and he named it the Big M. It was later renamed Saturday’s Market. Bernard’s son, Rodman Rose, joined the business in 1964 and owned it until he died in May 2018, according to his obituary.

Many vendors said they would miss the people.

Owen said she would miss “the community coming together. Just getting to walk around and meet new people. Chit-chat with someone for a couple of minutes who can tell you a story about themselves that you wouldn’t get to do ordering online or even buying in a store. The whole flea market experience is getting to walk around, meet new people and having conversations with people not through a mobile device.”

That wasn’t the only memory shared.

On the Press & Journal Facebook page, people recalled visiting loved ones’ stands, eating their favorite foods or, on one occasion, buying a canoe and carrying it out over their heads to protect them from a leaky roof.

One woman recalled her various jobs at the market — working in the grocery area and making announcements over the PA.

“Loved everyone I worked with ... we had good times. Over the years I’ve lost touch with them and of course the older folks have passed on … but really good memories. I remember every inch of that place. Hate to see the ‘Big M’ go, but I think she needs to be put to rest. She looks tired. Sorry to see the vendors move out … but, knowing the Rose family and have experienced some of its history, I think it’s time to let it go,” she wrote.