Plans are in the works to resurrect the Ceres Drive-In movie theater by the group that reopened the Ceres Flea Market last year as it seeks additional draws.
“We are actually discussing that now,” said Ceres Flea Market Operations Manager Anna Garcia. “That is something that is definitely going to happen … possibly by next year. A lot of people want to see it reopen but it takes a lot of money and a lot of dedication and it is a completely different business.”
Ceres Flea Market Group Investment LLC of Modesto purchased the 25-acre site on Whitmore Avenue to open the flea market venue last summer. The move delighted the city as well as a population that liked finding weekend bargains there in past years before it closed.
So far the effort to rebuild the market has resulted in attendance of about 1,000 per day but a far cry from the estimated 5,000 to 10,000 per day in its heyday, which was around 2004.
Since opening, the CFMG has enticed sellers by charging only a dollar per day to operate a sale, which is passed directly to the city. Free admission and parking is a mainstay for the shopping public. The venue has attracted about 80 vendors but as room for hundreds more, said Garcia. As of Feb. 1, the flea market will be charging sellers $10 per day or $100 per month for a storage space. Some vendors don’t need storage space.
The flea market also allows food and produce vendors to set up. Those fees are based on size, from the small carts to taco trucks.
“Most vendors do this for a living,” said Garcia. “It’s not the only market they go to. For some this is their weekend hobby they can make money off of. We have a retired principal who sells stuff, good household goods.”
Unlike most flea markets, Garcia said the Ceres Flea Market operates on a rain or shine basis. Plans are to expand the hours of operation from the current 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
“We’re planning to open a couple of extra days but I can’t say right now what those days will be.”
The group is hoping to spring interest in the market through approximately 12 special events per year, including car shows, concerts and the April 28 El Via Del Nino (“Day of the Child”) celebration. The event will have a fun family focus of activities centered around the child, such as face painting, games and rides. A Cinco de Mayo celebration is being planned for May 5.
“Everybody is welcome,” said Garcia. “We’re trying to make the Ceres Flea Market better than it has ever been.”
The flea market has hired private security personnel to keep the venue safe.
The flea market will eventually include a farmer's market organized through the Ceres Partnership for Healthy Children. The market was formerly held in Whitmore Park but later abandoned because the location failed to draw enough business to satisfy vendors.