Merced County Times Newspaper
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‘SuperFlea’ spot under question

In 2023, the SuperFlea was moved to the covered parking lot on 18 Street, across from the Civic Center, in downtown Merced.
In 2023, the SuperFlea was moved to the covered parking lot on 18 Street, across from the Civic Center, in downtown Merced.

To the dismay and frustration of many artists, vendors, and community members, the SuperFlea street market series has suffered a major blow, leaving it potentially without a “home location” in the heart of downtown.

For those who do not know, the SuperFlea (also known as Super Mrkt) is a local arts collective that has been hosting various pop-up vendor fairs and art shows throughout downtown Merced since mid-2022.

The SuperFlea, held on Sundays, became quite popular and grew to host more than 100 vendors and artists per event, as well as draw large crowds to its original location in the city-owned parking lot at Canal and 16th Street. However, the daytime event also brought on complaints, apparently from interests in the downtown business community that disagreed with a broad flea market being located so close to Main Street shops, parking for shoppers, and Bob Hart Square. Thus, the SuperFlea organizers moved the event to other spaces outside the downtown core — including the multilayered parking lot on 18th Street in front of the Civic Center and Applegate Park — for the entirety of 2023.

To start off 2024, a SuperFlea event was approved to return to the 16th Street parking lot, though in a slightly different location on the other side of Canal. The event once again drew large crowds; however, the complaints reportedly returned, and organizers say they were informed that vendor applications for the location are no longer being accepted.

“It’s a tough situation,” says Eli Torres, founder of SuperFlea. “The city has been so receptive of the event, and it brings so much life to our downtown on a normally dull Sunday. The unfortunate part is that any of the complaints that have been made about the event are very small things that can and have been addressed. It feels like it’s coming from a party that is very anti-community.
“We’ve done everything the city and planning has ever asked, and made sure to stick within the approved plans of the event. We’ve even gone above and beyond what was required on our last events to help. The overall fact of the matter is that all the parking downtown is public parking, and it’s unfortunate a small complaint is allowed to completely end the event with no options or adjustments offered. … I truly feel like there should be a path to work this situation out going forward and bring this event back to 16th Street.”

When asked about the potential of other locations, Torres responded: “Luckily the planning department has been super awesome throughout all of this, and has helped us find the parking garage location on 18th Street. We plan to go back to Applegate this year, and have a bigger event on Main Street, as well.

“The SuperFlea events located at 16th are on hold until we can find a way forward that the city feels is a fair option. Ideally, SuperFlea can become a downtown staple similar to how the Farmers Market (on Saturdays) has been given a permanent location in the exact same parking lots.”

According to Torres, “The best way to support the market is to visit during the events. Supporting the amazing vendors and just participating in community events by being there means everything to events like ours. You keep showin’ up and we’ll keep growin’ up.

“I’m not 100 percent sure what the process is, but at this point the only thing that can be done is to let the city know how much you love having the event in those 16th Street parking lots. Let the City Council know what it means to you as a community. Let them know that this is a homegrown true Merced event, and we should be trying to grow it to its full potential — not cut it down before it ever gets a chance to fully bloom.

“We’re going to work on getting this topic in front of the City Council, and we hope your support helps them see how important it is to keep the good times in downtown Merced.”

The Times has asked the city’s public information officer for more details on the city’s stance concerning this issue. However, a response was not received before the Times printing deadline this week.

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