By Gregg Jones
Union Missourian Editor
It has been nearly a year since the historic flooding of the Bourbeuse River, but some businesses still are being impacted.
Vendors at the Great American Flea Market, located on Highway AT north of Highway 50 in the Villa Ridge area, say that it hasn’t been business as usual.
For some, it has not rebounded to what it was prior to the December flood.
According to Sandy Amrein, owner of Scent Me Up, there are more than 30 vendors each weekend.
“Before the flood, there were a whole lot more vendors and a lot more customers,” she said.
The Bourbeuse River crested at 34.21 feet in Union in late December, forcing businesses to shutter their doors and clean up once floodwaters receded.
There was flood damage to the flea market’s main building, and outdoor vendors lost equipment and even trailers were swept away in the floodwaters.
Almost a month after the flood, Roger Walker recovered his “Jerky Shack” building that pushed into trees thousands of feet away.
Amrein said vendors began returning to the flea market in March. She began selling her items again in August.
“Some vendors lost everything they had there,” she said.
“I wasn’t set up during the flood, but a lot of other vendors were,” Amrein added. “We used to get customers from all over, but now, they think we are still closed.”
Linda Maguire, with K&A Edibles, agreed that business is down substantially.
“It varies, as retail does anyway, but things have definitely been down,” she said.
K&A Edibles sells food products made by Amish families, including brittle, chocolates, rock candy, fruit butters, jams, mustards, barbecue sauces, pickled items, salsa, noodles and more.
Maguire added that she lost some items in the flooding, but she normally packs up her sale items on Sundays and then puts them back out for display each Thursday.
“I lost some, but nowhere near what anybody else lost,” she said. “I left shelves and table-tops but that’s nothing compared to everybody else.”
Although some vendors have not returned, Amrein said there still are many items offered by a variety of small shops.
“There are so many different items available by so many vendors,” she said.
Andy Grimes, with G Properties, the owners of the flea market, expects more business next year after updates to the facilities.
He explained that there was a lot of debris washed onto the property during flooding and it took time to clean the property.
Grimes noted that it took several months before the company was reimbursed for damages by insurance companies.
“We had so much debris that washed onto our property and we didn’t get the first payment disbursement until late May,” he commented.
“While we were cleaning up, we had to foot the bill ourselves,” Grimes added. “That made income go down because it wasn’t operational.”
Grimes said the flea market had been rebranded, formerly using the name Mason-Dixon Flea Market, and next spring business should pick up.
“During the winter months we don’t have much volume,” he said. “Flea markets are driven by nice weather — by March and April we should have everything in place and the market will be back to full capacity.”
“Time will tell, but we are really hopeful that next year will we see more people coming to the flea market,” Grimes said.
Hours at the flea market vary. Most vendors keep hours on Saturdays and Sundays. There are some vendors who are open indoors throughout the week.
The flea market has been in operation since 1980.