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Canton Flea Market operator being evicted, upset vendors move out

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By SUSAN MENDE

CANTON - The operator of the Canton Flea Market is being evicted by the University Plaza’s new owner for failing to pay his July rent.

On Friday several vendors, many of them upset, were hauling their merchandise and shelving out of the Route 11, store which also houses Fashion Craze discount clothing store.

Some moved their sales racks out to the sidewalks and sold directly to customers. The store was closed to customers.

Several vendors said the flea market’s owner, Frank E. Monnett, informed them he doesn’t have the money to reimburse them for their July sales.

Domita L. Hogle, formerly of Colton, displayed an invoice showing that Mr. Monnett owes her $1,791.69 for her July sales.

“He has our money, and he didn’t pay his rent bill,” Ms. Hogle said. “It’s not fair. We put all this money and work into this.”

Mr. Monnett said he mailed the $6,000 rent check, but then put a stop payment on the check it because the plaza’s new owner, David C. Muraco, president of Empire Property Management, Dewitt, made it clear he doesn’t want to keep a flea market in the plaza.

“He’s already got people ready to move in here,” Mr. Monnett said, noting that a dollar store and a bread store are possibilities.

Mr. Monnett would not discuss why he can’t pay his vendors for their July sales.

“That’s a personal issue we’re working out together,” he said as he sat on a bench outside the store Friday afternoon.

Vendors were asked by Mr. Monnett to sign promissory notes that stated he would pay them within six months, but not all vendors were willing to sign the agreement.

“I wouldn’t accept it. I’m not signing it,” Ms. Hogle said.

Mr. Monnett held a meeting Thursday evening with vendors to advise them he was being evicted in 10 days and couldn’t pay them for their July sales.

Two state police officers were at the scene for awhile, but took no action.

“This is a civil matter, not a criminal matter,” said State Trooper Robert Larabee.

Mr. Muraco said he had no intention of immediately closing the flea market, but decided to evict Mr. Monnett, effective Aug. 3, because he put a stop payment on the rent check.

He is allowing interested vendors to remain in the space, he said.

“I’m going to try to work with people. I’m meeting with several of the vendors on Monday,” Mr. Muraco said. “I’m confident that the market will stay open. I don’t want the vendors to leave there, but I want him (Mr.Monnett) out.”

However, Mr. Muraco said he is trying to get other national retailers into the plaza and eventually that could force the flea market out of the space.

Rebecca A. Taberski, another vendor, said she set up a booth last fall and was doing fairly well.

“It’s just unfortunate. I was doing OK, but some of these vendors get paid big bucks,” she said.

Jackie Lamora, a vendor from Norwood, said she just started renting space about a month ago and built new shelving to hold her merchandise.

On Friday, she was packing up furniture and other items into a red pick-up truck that was parked directly in front of the store.

“I was very surpised. I lost my $150 deposit and about $300 worth of merchandise,” she said.

Chantel L. Wood and her boyfriend, Jeffrey R. Rayburn, said they’re disappointed the flea market may close because they shop there often for DVDs, clothes and other items.

“This place has always busy here, and there is so much to it,” Ms. Wood said. “I’m sad.”

Mr. Rayburn said, “It’s like a treasure hunt. You never know what you’ll find.”

The market opened in January 2012 and had nearly 100 vendors who rented booth space from Mr. Monnett.

The University Plaza’s former owner, Apollo, sold the plaza in June to New Venture Assets LLC, Dewitt, for $2.1 million. Mr. Muraco is owner of Empire Property Management and New Venture Assets.

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