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Shell Factory flea market reopens

May 20, 2020
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

It had been nearly two months since Shell Factory fans have been able to enjoy much more than takeout at the North Fort Myers attraction.

But two weeks ago, the flea market component reopened and, although the response was a little slow at first, customers were able to buy fresh produce from local farmers as well as find deals on clothing and other items.

Richard Dunmire, who runs the flea market that is open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, said attendance has been building since.

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A large supply of honey from Roy Jones waits to be purchased at the flea market at the Shell Factory on Saturday.


"We're excited about reopening. When people found out we were open it was pretty good. By the second Tuesday, it was really good," Dunmire said. "People were calling us begging to open it. There were so excited. And for many people, this is how they supplement their living."

Among them is vendor Roy Jones, who sells produce and honey produced from his own bees. He said after the unplanned time off due to state restrictions on public places, he was glad to see the flea market reopen.

"People seem to be doing their social distancing pretty good, but we're in the summertime mode, so it's going to be slow until August," Jones said. "Last week it was less than normal, but you have to expect that."

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Jones said during the closure he stayed home and stayed safe. He was able to sell his inventory of honey to a dealer, which made him one of the lucky ones.

"Most of the people who are here are working people who do this for a living," Jones said. "When we don't work, we don't have a living."

Rick Bullock sells hot dogs and burgers at the flea market. He had to cool the grill while working as a property manager.

"People are starting to get out and about and I'm glad to be open. We have a pretty good crowd today," Bullock said. "Did we open too soon? That's hard to say. Last weekend we reopened at the farmers market in Punta Gorda."

Shoppers were doing a good job practicing social distancing even if not many wore masks.

Tia Czine of Cape Coral came to the flea market for the first time with her mother, Tish, looking for bargains. For her, it was a great relief to finally be outside the confines of her home.

"After being home for two months, it's nice to be out shopping. It got a little boring, but I'm a homebody and I like being home," Tia said. "I just watched a lot of Netflix."

"Some of the people told us they have been here five years and I didn't even know they had this. We'll be back here," Tish said. "I got a lot of yard work done, but it was being tough staying in the house, so it was good to get out today."

The Shell Factory and Nature Park is at 16554 N. Tamimai Trail, North Fort Myers.

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