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Closing of Historic Skyview Flea Market and Drive-In a Big Loss for Santa Cruz, California

Nov 15, 2007
One of the last remaining operating drive-ins in California will soon become an upper end health clinic. The historic Skyview Flea Market and Drive-In in Santa Cruz,California will close after a 51 year run. Everything has its price and clearly the price for health care has been steadily rising. After all, what are the margins for a drive-in and flea market and why should anyone care?

Obviously not Sutter Medical who bought the property. The fourteen acres in question is private property, Sutter bought it and end of story. Well, not quite the end of the story. The flea community may soon be dissolved but the people will still continue. These are the small business people, collectors, farmworkers, recyclers, junk men, families, hobbyists, lonely hearts and the mentally borderline who want or need something other than ball games and political TV gossip on the weekends. Folks that make the world go round.

Folks like Lupe, a 41 year old farmworker mother that sells to make ends meet yet always wants to give us free stuff. And Sam, a 62 year old retiree that dislikes his wife so he spends flea market days flirting with anyone that will pay him attention. And Marvin, a 44 year old mentally disabled man that visits the market to socialize since almost all his time is spent by himself in his room.

And Carl, an antiques dealer who for 20 years has been shopping the flea for antiques and collectibles for his store. Sara, an antiques dealer that started liquidating her inventory ever since the antiques and collectibles market started to slip. Nguyen, a student at San Jose State who sells cheap goods out of a box van to pay his way through college.

Josefina, a Salinas mother of two, sells fruits and vegetables to augment her family's income from the fields and teach her children a strong work ethic. Jacobo works as a custodian for the flea in the winters when there is no field work. Jake works as a market security guard to support his wife and three children. Cindy works in the concession stand to pay her way through Cabrillo Junior College.

Laughing John, a reseller of curios and collectibles, drives each Sunday all the way from Fremont. Bartolo, a locker buyer from Castroville who has been dealing junk for over 30 years, will have to find a new line of work. Arn, who visits his ex-students and stops to talk art with those he meets, will no longer be able to regularly see so many of his old friends. Bill, an artist and furniture maker who buys old and damaged furniture, fixes it up and sells it to supplement his social security, will obviously have to find a new source.

Intellectual Pat, one of the most knowledgeable antiques dealers around has been instructing his 'students' at the flea market for decades. No mas. Bob and Julie drive from Turlock to sell almonds from their orchard. Linda the hat lady arrives in her VW rabbit with hats stacked to the roof. Amanda sells cheap LA warehouse surplus so she and her husband can go to Reno and gamble.

David, who sells designer pants and shirts at about the best prices around, drives from Milpitas and has a wife and two kids. Bill from the Westside has been selling tools, music and just about anything else at the flea for over 25 years. Elvy, just about the sweetest lady you will ever meet, buys stuff at garage sales on Saturdays that she resells on Sundays to help pay for clothes and expenses for her three school-aged daughters.

Jack, whose witticisms and art BS often made my day, will have to take his small talk somewhere else. Trevor, an antiques dealer who would fight to the last peso and then some, can't get any more good deals. Dean, an old locker auction buddy who taught me lots about junk, people and how to make the best of a lousy situation, will survive. Like most flea folks, Dean is a survivor.

So is Maria, whose sole source of support is the flea, who will now have to drive to Hollister or San Jose with her box van of goodies. And Joe, whose easy going demeanor and people skills helped him sell truckload after truckload of junk, will have to find another way to finance his kid's music lessons.

And there's Frank, whose mental instability, persecution complex and short temper, have recently made him only a part time vendor as his flashbacks and sense of reality have started to merge in his senior years. No doubt he will show up one Sunday and not realize or remember the flea has closed. I guess maybe Sutter Medical will have to deal with him.

Managers Anna and Carlos will have to find new jobs. Mike, a daguerreotype photo collector and electronics tinkerer, will have to go elsewhere to buy parts for projects he builds with his sons. Adrian, who sells at the flea when not working at the carwash, sells CDs with Aurora to support their three sons in school. Tom, who makes his living selling flea stuff on EBay, will have to go elsewhere. Juan, a local chef who brings his daughter Daniela to the flea as family entertainment, lets her stay with us when she gets tired. We've watched her grow up.

And of course you, who want to find a place to sell off your stuff, make a few bucks, add to your collections, meet old friends, meet new friends and search for treasures, will now have to drive to another county. So will we.
About the Author
Jack D. Deal is a long time Santa Cruz resident. Photos of Skyview as well as other Bay Area markets can be found at Related articles may be found at http://www.jddeal.com and http://www.freeandinquiringmind.typepad.com
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