Kai Mikolajczak has been amassing and reselling classic wares since he was 12.
The Derby native’s inspiration was the Super Flea on Walden Avenue in Cheektowaga, the place he used to go practically each weekend with associates throughout his youth.
“For me, growing up, it was the thing to do on weekends – you drive up to Walden Avenue, bring $20 or $30 and you fill up your car with some of the most random items and then head home,” he mentioned. “And then you do the same thing next weekend.”
“After it closed in 2014, there just hasn’t been anything to fill its shoes,” he added.
Now, Mikolajczak, 31, and the proprietor of Queen Metropolis Classic on Hertel Avenue in Buffalo, is the one bringing again the Super Flea.
The brand new Queen Metropolis Super Flea will happen on 12 weekend dates over a four-month span, beginning June 4, and produce greater than 350 distributors to the Buffalo Outer Harbor, 325 Fuhrmann Blvd. The Super Flea’s former vacation spot is now the location of a Walmart.
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Mikolajczak is hoping that is the beginning of what might finally embody a transfer to a website the place there’s an inside-outside venue similar to on the former Super Flea in Cheektowaga.
“I’m fielding calls, emails, messages and DMs left and right,” mentioned Mikolajczak, who’s run Queen Metropolis Classic for 3 years and is anticipating his first little one in June. “It’s overwhelming but it’s so fun. I’m so glad that people are enthused about it as much as I am.”
There can be 500,000 sq. toes devoted to the distributors on the Buffalo Outer Harbor – sufficient room to suit 150 to 200 further distributors. All that room was wanted in case Covid restrictions grow to be a lifestyle once more.
Steve Ranalli, president of the Erie Canal Harbor Improvement Corp., mentioned he’s wanting ahead to bringing quite a lot of occasions that enchantment to completely different age teams and ethnicities to the Buffalo Outer Harbor. The group operates a lot of what was as soon as a principally vacant 429 acres of the Buffalo waterfront.
“It’s still a part of the waterfront that is new to a lot of people,” he mentioned. “We’re just trying to open up the Outer Harbor to as many people as we can and we think this is going to be a very fun way to bring back the Super Flea. It should be quite an event down there.”
Some persons are questioning if Super Flea belongs on the waterfront, one Buffalo Information letter author saying it will flip the realm into an eyesore.
“This area was making remarkable progress over the years by adding bike trails, a playground, restaurants and a forthcoming entertainment complex while still preserving space for wildlife and water activities,” mentioned one other letter author, Marty Farrell of West Seneca. “There must be somewhere in Western New York where this flea market would be a better fit.”
Amongst those that are excited are some former Super Flea distributors. Almost two dozen of them have reached out to be part of the newest model of the flea market.
Joseph Vitello Sr., a former vendor on the Super Flea who’s since moved to Florida and now sells his wares at a market in Daytona, mentioned although web and Amazon purchasing have exploded in recognition, there’s nothing fairly like coming to a market to the touch, really feel and see the merchandise “and then haggle a little bit.”
When the unique Super Flea closed, Vitello mentioned he was “sickened.” An try was made to get a brand new flea market operating, as organizers eyed a spot close to McKinley Mall in Hamburg, however they might by no means make it work, Vitello mentioned.
“It has got to be unique. The items sold there cannot be something you can go to Walmart to get,” mentioned Vitello, who’s not among the many distributors making use of to come back to Queen Metropolis Super Flea. “But, also, it’s about supporting small business, family businesses; not a corporation. … Western New York needs a market where they can go.”
Mikolajczak is also wanting to herald newer distributors, a lot of whom have integrated know-how and social media in promoting their wares. He’s searching for artisans and curated sellers as effectively.
He’s nonetheless going via purposes and plans to begin releasing the names of Super Flea distributors subsequent week.
“I want to have it be an ode to how it was and how it used to be and then also have it be for the newer generation going forward,” mentioned Mikolajczak, who has had his plans for beginning a much bigger flea market delayed the previous two years by the pandemic.
He’s hoping to create a platform for sellers that may assist construct their companies.
Vitello mentioned he’s completely happy to listen to that the Super Flea can be again, however he’d wish to see an inside-outside idea – just like the unique Super Flea – probably at an previous vacant warehouse.
“I’d love to see them get an old building to use, but I know sometimes it gets really crazy with regulations,” he mentioned. “It would help to have some covered space, a roof and some walls, so that the market could be every weekend, rain or shine.”
Mikolajczak seemed into indoor-outdoor areas like the previous Kmart on Hertel Avenue, which closed in 2019, and vacant buildings on Walden Avenue and Seneca Avenue, however couldn’t make any work. He mentioned politics and a adverse stigma surrounding flea markets made it troublesome.
He nonetheless has plans to discover a everlasting residence, which might imply buying a turn-key location or constructing out on his personal website.
After the June 4 opening, the flea market will run from 10 a.m. to five p.m. on June 18 and 25, July 2, 9, 17 and 24, Aug. 7, 20 and 27 and Sept. 18 and 25.