When Billy Snyder bought the old East Town Shopping

Center property about 10 years ago he had no idea that he would eventually run

a business that could revitalize the East side of Orange. There is the

possibility that Orange Trade Days may be doing just that.

Snyder bought the property through a tax sale with

the idea of running a warehouse business in what had once been the space of

businesses like Big Bonus Stamps, Weiners, TG&Y, and a couple of others.

The biggest area, the old Weingartens store had burned and the remains of the

store been razed.

“Most of the businesses that were leasing space from

me were storm chasers and needed a place to store their materials between jobs

and for upcoming jobs. Storms started hitting here and the economy changed and

the business started to relocate.” Said Snyder. “That left me with property I

needed to do something with besides just pay taxes on.”

Snyder had a plot of land with seven acres of

parking and over 42,000 square feet of space under cover, with electricity,

that he needed to decide what to do with. Someone mentioned the idea of a large

flea market. “My wife, Gabby, and I began to research what it would take to

open such a business. We did not know much about it, but we had 21,000 feet of

indoor space that could be laid out for vendors shops and the ability to double

that if things would work out. After a few months of talking to people like

Larry Tinkle that owns the big show in Winnie we had enough information to try

to get things started.” said Snyder. “We opened in June, which was supposed to

be a bad time because of the heat, but things went fairly well. We started with

15 vendors and had some things to work out that did not go as we wanted them

to. Starting at a supposedly bad time was really good for us in the long run.

We had time to build up business, add vendors and iron out the minor problems

we had before the best time for a large amount of customers came with the

cooler weather.”

In the year and a half that Orange Trade Days has

been in operation there have been 950 vendors that have been in and out of the

show. There are 25 vendors that are considered “Originals”; they have been

there for the majority of the shows.

“We have vendors that come for a couple of months

and leave for a few months and come back. We are never real sure, with a few exceptions,

who will be here for each show. The vendors like to go to different shows and

not having the same vendors each month keeps our show different. Our customers

can always expect to find something new here. We also have vendors who started

here and have gone on to open their own businesses, like Sisters and Friends,

the café on Green Avenue. They started cooking here and decided to open their café

later,” said Snyder. “One thing that really helped us was that Penny LeLeux

with the Record Newspapers did a sort of introductory story on us when we

started. With the large circulation of the Record the word got around fast

about what we were doing here. We credit that story with helping us draw a large number of people is a short time period.”

The east side of Orange has been considered run down

and dead for decades, since Riverside was torn down and the shopping center

closed. Orange Trade Days is having a positive effect on the neighborhood.

People who visit Trade Days have found that the property is easy to access and

safe to visit. Residents in the area are taking pride in having a business

return to their neighborhood and hopeful that there may be another that will

decide to locate in the east end.

“Our property is safe. We have people that were

hesitant to visit us when we first opened, they would come in a group. Now we

have single mothers bringing their children, alone, not in a group and having a

good time and finding out that we have a great location. There are even

residents that will call me in the off weeks if they see a suspicious car in

the parking lot. On the weekends we have our shows, the police patrol and watch

the property after we close,” said Snyder.

Orange Trade Days is a flea market that will only

improve with time. There are more vendors coming to the show from out of the

area and the merchandise ranges from costume jewelry to fine antique furniture,

unique professional photography, handcrafts and homemade jelly. There are boutique

shops and craftsmen who will custom make furniture and jewelry on demand. What

started as a gamble for Billy and Gabby Snyder is appearing to be a sure thing

with a lot of potential.

“We have 21,000 square feet of business space for

vendors now and we have the option to double that. We have seven acres of free

parking and possibly 300 more acres of what used to be Riverside, it the city

would care to develop that for us to lease. We thank all of our vendors and

customers for helping us grow and hopefully we will continue to grow. We invite

those who have not been to one of our Trade Days to come out and visit us,” said


The next dates for Orange Trade Days are February 17,

18, 19, 2012.