Meyers flea market faces possibility of closing
Editor’s note: This story’s headline and content has been updated. The Tahoe Flea Market continues to operate seasonally at the Meyers location.
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – After 35 years, the Tahoe Flea Market in Meyers is in danger of closing.
The closure at the end of September will allow the California Tahoe Conservancy to proceed with the taxpayer-funded Upper Truckee Marsh Restoration, which aims to restore the natural river channel and ultimately improve the clarity of Lake Tahoe. The flea market site, in particular, will serve as a staging area for the heavy equipment needed to complete the project.
But those who spend every weekend rolling out their wares in Meyers say a big part of their lives will disappear along with the market.
“The best thing about it is it’s such a community-oriented place,” said Randy Mundt, who has operated the flea market since the 1970s. “It’s one of the few places in town, along with the farmers market, where you can bring the whole family out there and talk about who’s had a baby and who’s died and just basically connect. It provides a really good social outlet for social intercourse. It’s really the best thing about it.”
Mundt said he rents the parking lot from the conservancy for about $12,000 per year.
Ray Lacey, deputy director of the California Tahoe Conservancy, said the agency has been open with Mundt about the project since the conservancy purchased the land from the Elk’s Club almost three years ago. Still, Lacy said the conservancy hopes to find them an alternate location.
“It’s not mal intent,” Lacy said “We are looking at other sites that could be a win-win.”
Mundt said there are no other locations in town that are viable. The go-to festival spots along Highway 50, the – American Legion Hall, Miller’s Outpost parking lot at the “Y” – are booked long in advance. To be in the city, all vendors would be required to have matching awnings.
The flea market vendors also need adequate paved parking and RV space, since most of the vendors stay with their items overnight and are stopping in Lake Tahoe during a tour of flea markets nationwide.
“When I started this, it was all the yard salers getting together,” Mundt said. “Turns out we’re now on a national circuit of professional sellers, people who drive around the county, people who want to travel around and sell things. They put us on their route.”
About 60 vendors set up their booths from May to September, attracting about 1,500 people each weekend, Mundt said.
The fee for a space is $14 for a smaller space, $17 for a space for a 15-foot vehicle, and $32 for the largest space available.
Jeanne Larson and Richard Girod of Wellington, Nev., use the market as a way to pay for vacations during retirement.
“It pays for us to go on a cruise every year,” Larson said. “For my 65th birthday, we went on a 35-day cruise from Rio de Janeiro to New York City.”
Larson said the market also serves as a social outlet and a way to meet people from around the world.
“We meet some nice people,” she said. “A handsome young man from Ecuador came through one weekend, too young for me, but you know.”
Lacey said the conservancy will try to help Mundt find alternate location for the market, but that the agency’s main responsibility is to the voters and taxpayers who have designated certain funds to be used solely for environmental purposes.
“We are at a point where we have invested tens of millions of dollars in property acquisition, and we have an obligation,” he said.