How we got here…
Well it all started back in 1966 on a little 2 lane road called Park Blvd. Hardy Huntley owned a used car lot , Hardy also Bush hogged on the side, meanwhile his wife Janet, would shop yard sales, looking for things for Hardy to fix and sell. As Hardy was fixin’ things he realized he needed a place to sell. Well why not set up on the side of the road and see what comes of it? Next thing he knows he is being asked if he wouldn’t mind some company – there was someone else who wanted to sell some stuff on the side of the road. Well they both sold a whole lot of stuff that day so the word spread that there was this great roadside location to sell your stuff… To mark the spot, Hardy looked around and found he had a wagon wheel so he placed it up along the side of the road and the great Wagon Wheel Flea Market was born!
As time progressed and the word got out, the market grew so Hardy and Janet added a food truck with hot dogs, sausages, sodas and such. Then another food truck with ice cream. Before they knew it the market was a whopping couple hundred dealers each and every Saturday and Sunday, and even back then the market was open – Rain or Shine!
The time came to give the people a choice so covered spaces were added, nice open air buildings with tin roofs, eventually they even got wagon wheel chandeliers for the times we were open on Friday nights. The Wagon Wheel was now up to 3 and ½ rows of covered booths with another 1 and ½ rows of outside booths. Over time more concessions were added serving everything from the original hot dogs to corn dogs, meatball subs, roasted peanuts, popcorn and more. They added a fancy new concession stand more commonly known as “the Main” with wood beams that became covered in a cloud of cotton candy ever Saturday and Sunday morning. Then the office girls got to move into a fancy new wooden “A frame” building.
We were growing leaps and bounds with thousands of cars every weekend coming to shop for all sorts of goodies from produce to 8 track tapes! It became the worlds’ largest treasure hunt; you never knew what you would find.
The fire!! Yes, on New Year’s 1986 there was a 4 alarm fire and we lost the concession and the office, the only thing that survived was a safe that is still in use today. But even a fire couldn’t slow the Wagon Wheel Flea Market down, the market opened the next day. We set up the office in a trailer and the following week we moved in another trailer and had our new concession. The market has been open every Saturday and Sunday since 1966, with the exception of Christmas.
Well over the years many things have happen here at the Wagon Wheel. We had a fantastic 1976 bicentennial celebration with helicopter rides and free watermelon for everyone. We’ve had Easter egg hunts and even Santa comes to visit (and shop).
There were many years we operated with the Florida Music Festival and the Pinellas County Fair. But the real key to our success is the endless variety of surprises that have always been waiting to be discovered every weekend, year in and year out, rain or shine – you never know what you will find!
We’ve been glad to be here all these years and we look forward to many more years to come!