SARATOGA SPRINGS — A new flea market is coming to the Malta Drive-In in May.
Ballston Spa resident Jim O'Connell said that, prior to becoming a marketing specialist for CAP COM Federal Credit Union, he was an antiques dealer and operated a furniture restoration business.
"The last couple of years it's become more of a second line of business," he said. "I started traveling to flea markets and antique shows and thought: Why can't we have one locally?"
O'Connell said he started looking for a location for the flea market six months ago.
"I went to an estate sale in Delmar one morning, which started at 8 a.m., and when I showed up at 7:30 a.m., I was the 22nd person in line," he said. "I realized the interest for this is incredible."
O'Connell approached Ed Caro, owner of the Malta Drive-In on Route 9, to see if he'd be interested in hosting a flea market.
"I wanted a place that's easily accessible with a footprint that could handle it," O'Connell said. "The facilities are there — parking, food and restrooms — rather than winging it on a big field."
Caro, who's owned the 20-acre site since 1988, said he wanted to give O'Connell's idea a try.
"With a drive-in theater, you're lucky to make whatever kind of profit you can," he said. "Last season was slower because of the weather, so I thought: Let's give it a try."
Caro said the drive-in hosted a flea market 10 years ago, but it didn't work out.
"Jim's local, and mistakes were made previously," he said. "I'm hopeful that Jim's will be successful. The exposure [to the theater] will certainly help, and, hopefully, it'll build into something that will help the bottom line of the operation."
O'Connell has secured four Saturdays for the flea market this year: May 12, June 9, July 7 and Sept. 15.
"Moving forward, I'd like to add one more date to see if it could become a regular event," he said. "I have to give dealers a chance to recoup and buy their products, but this is a nice way to get it started."
O'Connell said that while the property can hold up to 400 vendors, his initial goal for the May flea market is 100.
"I've already gotten verbal confirmation from 40 to 45 vendors," he said. "If it's done right, there's no reason why we couldn't fill the entire place."
The entry fee will be $2 per car.
O'Connell said he would donate half of the entry fee proceeds to the CAP COM Cares Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the lives of families in the Capital Region.
"I'm hoping to be able to give them $1,000 this year, and as the event grows, I'll be able to give more," he said. "It's important to give back to the community."
For more information, visit www.maltaflea.com.