An interview with Randy Tagg, who with partner Mark Steinman, runs the Camp Rilea Flea Market at the Rilea Armed Forces Training Center's armory, 91204 Oregon Road, Warrenton.
On February 14 and 15, and every second weekend of the month, the cavernous confines of the Camp Rilea armory will fill with bargains, beckoning all who wish to stretch their dollars on bargains in quality new and second hand merchandise, and enjoy a good inexpensive meal as well. The doors are open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call Tagg at (503) 440-2507.
What should we know about this flea market?
"It's becoming better established and more of a full business. We are pretty picky about our vendors. All of our vendors are a class act, and are much more than just someone trying to make a fast buck. They all take pride in their products. It is like they are selling a part of themselves. We have vendors come down from Longview, (Wash.), and Portland. We have specialty antique furnishings by Donna Hitchman and Sis Hazen is really into collectables. We have old toys and new toys. One table features nursery stock from Sunset Beach and we have flowers and potted plants from Longview. We also have art, both old and new. People can come and buy natural beef here from my Tagg Pioneer Ranch. Later in the year one of our vendors puts up his plants here in the entrance. It really smells nice when you walk in. We also have a kitchen here and serve food."
Tell us something about the prices here.
"The prices here range from 50 cents and $5 to $40 to $60 for some of the antiques. A lot of the vendors have learned that people are looking for a bargain. Mark sells tools for 50 cents and $1. He has hammers, wrenches and socket sets. We get an awful lot of guys here because we have at least three tables with a lot of guy stuff."
What do you offer vendors?
"We lease the armory and provide tables and we have use of the kitchen. We pay for a state person for security. Vendors can rent a 10 by 10 table for $30 or $25 for two or more. We have room here for 60 tables but we keep it at 45 so there is plenty of room for merchandise and the vendors are not crowded. We start setting up on Friday at 7 a.m. and I am here helping until 8 p.m., sometimes until 10."
Tell us about the kitchen.
"This is a really beautiful, big kitchen. My wife Linda and daughter Kelly run it. We keep the prices for food down because this is mostly a service for the vendors and shoppers and not-for-profit. Our breakfast, consisting of eggs, hash browns and gravy, with sausage and bacon, is only $5. We also have burgers, sandwiches, fruit salad, French toast and omelets. I believe that a lot of people just come here to enjoy the day, not necessarily to make a lot of money. It is just a big family here."
Why did you start this business?
"I love to collect and sell knives. I love doing this so much that my original idea was to rent the space just to market the knives. It would pay for the operation. There used to be a flea market at the Astoria Fairgrounds but it closed, so Mark and I created this one two years ago this March. Mark joined me as a partner so he could sell his tools. My mom started calling friends and through local networking this just grew into a business."
What can you tell us about the volume of business?
"We average from 1,300 to 600 people on a weekend. It depends on the weather and other local activities. We get a lot of tourists. Many, from Longview and Portland, plan their beach trips around our flea market. The armory is usually full of vendors every month. We always have some who do not attend every month so I would say we have room each month for about four more tables."