Wolff's Flea Market ending long run in Palatine
Wolff's Flea Market, a go-to place for deeply discounted nonperishable food nearing their expiration dates and many other items, is heading toward its final two weekends of operation at a former Menards in Palatine.
Wolff's, also known for its Sunday outdoor market that's been in the Allstate Arena parking lot in Rosemont since 1991, opened the indoor version in Palatine a little more than nine years ago after the big-box store relocated to Long Grove.
But the Rand Road building soon will be demolished so Napleton's Automotive Group can move two dealerships from Arlington Heights to the property formerly owned by the village of Palatine. Wolff's final weekend will be Jan. 26-27.
Don Wolff, a co-owner of the family business, said he never thought the Palatine operation would last so long when it opened in November 2009 at the former hardware store, which still has its original look, such as an area labeled "Gutter & Accessories."
"It is going to be sad," he said of the closure. "Each and every aisle here is its own little community. Some of these vendors have been here all nine years. They've become very good friends. We've had marriages that have happened here."
Sharon Wolff, Don's sister-in-law, said deals on cookies, potato chips and other nonperishable packaged food have lured many shoppers to the Palatine location. Such products are shipped from a retailer to auctions or grocery clearing houses before winding up in a vendor's rented flea market space and sold at deep discounts, she said.
Small appliances, clothes, books and furniture also have been a draw.
Aurora resident Greg Flamm is among the vendors who will miss working in the former Menards. Flamm, who sells mostly vintage knickknacks, records and toys under the DuPage Picker moniker, said one advantage of renting the indoor space has been an ability to leave his goods there during the week, instead of unloading and packing up as he does each time in Rosemont.
"This size building has worked out," Flamm said. "Plenty of parking, a good location."
Palatine officials bought the property for $8 million after the Menards closed so they could control future development of the site. In August, the village council voted to sell the roughly 9 acres and 52,000-square-foot building to Napleton for $2.5 million, along with granting approvals for the two dealerships and a car wash.
Wolff's Flea Market has leased the Menards from the village for $120,000 a year for the weekend sales, and it paid property taxes, maintenance costs and other expenses.
Palatine Village Manager Reid Ottesen said the flea market was a good tenant and helped drive customers to nearby restaurants and other businesses. Wolff's has a sign above an exit reading: "Please Visit Our Neighboring Businesses in Palatine."
"I think we fulfilled our long-term vision of finding a top-notch user, large sales-tax-generating place to go in there," Ottesen said. "And during that interim period we owned it, they (Wolff's) served the purpose we needed. They kept the property up. It wasn't a long-term solution for us, and they knew all along it wouldn't be, so I think it was a good marriage."
Don Wolff said the family plans to launch a new indoor flea market, possibly near Rosemont, later this year.