Aug 1, 2012: Save The Flea Market: Update 2

The second in a series of updates on a campaign to save The Flea Market at Eastern Market from redevelopment, this report will be the first summarizing testimony of consultants, hired by flea market owner Diverse Markets Management, LLC (DMM), before the D.C. Zoning Commission recently.

The testimony was in support of opposition to the developers' "planned unit development," which would cut "by two-thirds the space for vendors and customers, eliminating 38,000 square feet of market space from the current configuration," of the Flea Market at the Hine Junior High School site at 7th and C Streets, SE, where it has operated for 20 years, according to DMM President Michael Berman in introductory remarks.

Previously estimating total annual visitors to the Flea Market "to be 432,667, the re-configuration would reduce visitation to an estimated 233,244 visitors, for a reduction of 46 percent," reported Owens Economics, LLC in testimony presented by Company Principal Bill Owens.

"Total visitor spending attributable to Flea Market visitors was previously estimated to be $29.2 million," Owens said. "With re-configuration and the resultant decrease in the number of visits, total expenditures would drop to an estimated $15.9 million."

Visitor spending estimates were derived, he reported in accompanying tables, from surveys conducted at the Flea Market by WB&A Market Research, a respected market research company based in Crofton, MD. "The overall purpose was to determine how much money visitors spend in Washington on days they visit the market," reported WB&A in testimony presented by Company President Steven Markenson.

"A total of 435 surveys were conducted by WB&A's professional interviewers" on Sundays in late May and early June, Markenson reported. 170 surveys were completed from residents of Washington, D.C. only; 188, from residents of the Washington, D.C. Metro Area, excluding those living in the District; and 77 from Outside Metro Area.

"A typical visitor spent an average of $72 at the Flea Market on the day they were surveyed," WB&A reported. "Visitors spent on average an additional $73 in Washington, DC....about $145 for the typical visitor." 

Significantly, "Of visitors who were not Washington, D.C. residents, the majority (89%) were drawn to visit Washington, D.C. in part by the Flea Market. In fact, more than one-half (57%) said it was either a primary reason or the only reason for their visit." 

Many were repeat customers. "The average visitor has visited the Flea Market about 16 times in the past year." And "almost two-third said they would visit much less frequently" were Flea Market product offerings significantly diminished.  

In summarizing interpretation of WB&A's findings into the annual estimates, Owens noted that the Flea Market is "a destination, with motivated visitors coming year round. The combined number of visitors from outside the city who come to the Flea Market is 184,066, which makes it a significant attraction in the city's offering of attractions outside the Mall, Memorials and Monuments core. 

"For the purposes of this report, non-city resident visitors for whom the Flea Market was the only or primary reason for their visit to the city are referred to as destination visitors. An estimated 101,040 visitors, or 55 percent of all Flea Market visitors from outside the city are destination visitors.

"From fiscal and economic development perspectives, an important dynamic of the Flea Market is its ability to bring visitor dollars from outside the city to the city."               

"The reports served to document what to us was anecdotal evidence", Berman stated. "We knew we had a strong local following of repeat customers, but were surprised how often they came. We knew we were a destination market, but it surprised us how strongly we were both regional and national attractions to the neighborhood. Clearly, the Flea Market is an important and vital component to what makes Capitol Hill thrive".

Our next newsletter will focus on Flea Market business activity and business incubation.

You can view this report here:  Owens Economic Report Summary WB&A Survey Findings
and all of them at Market History page