The National Flea Market Association's objectives are:
1) To serve the public interest and to benefit the flea market industry by fostering high standards of business conduct which merits public trust;
2) To disseminate information helpful to the flea market industry and to facilitate the exchange of ideas among members;
3) To sustain a friendly and cooperative relationship among the flea market industry and the agencies with whom they do business;
4) To investigate, endorse, and inform the membership of specific services, programs, and products related to the industry;
5) To present information to the public and to governmental agencies that will help them to understand the role of the flea market in the economy
6) To encourage legislation and regulations constructive to the industry and to discourage legislation and regulations destructive to both consumers and small businessmen engaged in the flea market industry
7) To support the association's Code of Professional Ethics.
"Committed to Free Enterprise"
As one of the last vestiges of small entrepreneurship in the U.S., the country's over 1100 U.S. flea markets provide opportunities for approximately 2.25 million vendors conducting over $30 Billion in sales annually. The markets are visited by over 150 million customers each year. Flea markets contribute to the local, state, and federal economy through real estate, food, sales and use taxes. In addition, the federal government recognizes flea markets as a regulated form of retail business and permanently includes them in the national census for purposes of determining the country's gross national product (GNP).
The National Flea Market Association opposes legislative proposals which attempt to single out or discriminate against flea markets. Under the guise of consumer protection, these measures commonly attempt to impose unnecessary restrictions upon flea markets without valid justification or consideration of other competing forms of retail establishments. Such legislation not only stifles competition by creating unnecessary barriers to flea markets and their vendors, but also allows "Big Box" retailers to control the flow of merchandise within manufacturers, distributors, and wholesale networks. As a result, legislative proposals which discriminate upon flea markets are opposed by most consumer groups, because they hurt the buying public by limiting their access to low cost merchandise.
Examples of Anti-Competitive Legislation Include:
Organized Theft and Shelf Sweeping: The Flea Market Association does not condone the sale of stolen goods and promotes widely accepted precautions, such as registration of vendors and the use of police details during business hours. In addition, the NFMA partners with public safety and national trade organizations to protect consumers against counterfeit goods, product piracy and copyright infringement. These measures are also successful in helping to prevent the sale of stolen, suspicious, or worn goods, including those resulting from shelf sweeping items, such as infant formula.
Dangerous Goods: The NFMA supports legitimate consumer protection efforts to stop the sale of dangerous products as long as such measures are applied equally. Manufacturers, however, often falsely equate a product which is out of code as automatically dangerous. In addition, many retailers who seek to limit the sale of dated or expired merchandise sell these goods without reservation to flea market vendors and then seek to limit the re-sale of such merchandise by only "authorized manufacturer's representatives". Flea market vendors must also be protected from mandates forcing them to reveal proprietary information such as price and source of goods to their competitors. Such mandates not only eliminate the ability of flea market vendors to fairly compete, but also inappropriately allows a large retailer to control the flow of merchandise within manufacturers, distributors, and wholesale networks.
Classification as Transient Vendors:
Because specific regulatory requirements often apply to transient vendors, competing retailers attempt to characterize flea markets and their vendors as temporary, transient, or beyond the reach of the law. True transient vendors, however, operate on street corners and public property. Conversely, many flea markets have operated for several decades, year-round and seasonally, at a permanent, privately owned location. In addition, even when the markets are not open to the general public their administrative offices maintain regular business hours. Classification of flea markets as transient is inappropriate and should be differentiated from seasonal or "by appointment only" business such as tax preparers, nurseries, holiday and Christmas shops.
Special Fees, Permits, and Bonding Requirements: Flea market owners are promoters in the same industry, competing for the same vendors, as other retail outlets (including shopping malls, trade shows, and fairs). Competitors often advocate for legislation which imposes special fees and increased costs on flea market promoters, thereby resulting in higher costs of entrance for vendors to rent space from flea markets as compared to competing promotional channels. As a result, government involvement and the imposition of license fees and bonding requirements upon flea market vendors negatively impacts the marketplace and are likely to result in the end of flea market promotion as it currently exists.
The National Flea Market Assn. and its members are committed to providing consumers with an organized and legitimate place to shop. Flea market operators are subject to extensive regulation and comply with all required permits and licenses. Voluntarily, the majority of flea markets pay for police and fire details on premises during business hours. The National Flea Market Association has also established a Code of Professional Ethics to ensure that all members conduct their respective business with honesty, integrity, and a commitment to the betterment of the industry and the public trust.
Flea markets do not pose a threat to consumers which justifies increased regulatory oversight. The NFMA encourages public policy officials to scrutinize legislative attempts to discriminate against flea markets as compared to other forms of retail and ensure they are supported by valid consumer protections rather than competitive attempts to control product distribution and assure greater profits for manufacturers.