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SATURDAY, MAY 19, 2007
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Lacon market
isn't closing

Owner says problems to be
corrected for Memorial Day opening

By Ronnie Thomas
rthomas@decaturdaily.com 340-2438

LACON — State fire marshals inspected Lacon Trade Day a week ago but one of the owners Friday squelched a rumor that the popular flea market is on the verge of closing.

"Closing?" a surprised J.D. Smith said. "We're gearing up for a special third day opening this month on Memorial Day."

The flea market is normally open Saturdays and Sundays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Smith confirmed that Deputy State Fire Marshal Jim Hannah of Birmingham and another deputy showed up last Saturday for an inspection at the site, on U.S. 31 just south of Falkville.

"I was in the back working when I was called up front," Smith said. "The marshals told me someone had filed a complaint."

Wiring problems

Smith said he has already received the marshals' reports and that the main problem dealt with wiring not being covered.

"Some of the wiring inside the buildings is not in conduit," Smith said. "Some of the walls are studded up and not covered by an interior wall. That was their No. 1 complaint, the wiring not being in conduit. I don't think there will be any problems working with the fire marshals and making the necessary corrections."

Because of surgery this weekend, Hannah was not available for comment, said Scott Pilgreen of Montgomery, assistant state fire marshal.

"He and another deputy inspected the facility and noted violations," Pilgreen said. "Jim will write up the appropriate inspection report, which is normal procedure for us. Hopefully, at Lacon they'll address whatever discrepancies were found."

Pilgreen said unless the report notes an urgent correction, there is no timetable to having corrections made, only "that they address the problems as soon as is practical, and we will monitor it from there."

Smith said his father, Jerry Smith, has had an investment in the multiple-owned Trade Day for almost 30 years "but it's been around a lot longer than that. Other owners are my grandfather, Harold Smith, my great aunt, Dean Smith, and Gail Hill."

According to a Web site on Alabama flea markets, Lacon Trade Day has about 300 vendors with antiques, books, clothing, collectibles, crafts, furniture, jewelry, stamps and coins, toys, pets, fowl and livestock, and new and used merchandise.

"We have at least that many vendors," J.D. Smith said.

"Not all are permanent. Some come in for the day and pay for that day, selling yard sale items or whatever is extra in their house."

Debby Walker of Holly Pond considers herself a trade day institution. For 26 years, she's been selling dog collars "and odds and ends" out of two 10-by-20-foot booths inside a building owned by Jerry Smith.

"I've been treated fairly the whole time," Walker said. "I look forward to coming every weekend and meeting the people. I have people coming from out of state for my dog collars."

But she said during March, someone broke into the building and took a lot of her dog collars.

"The police got a report," she said. "Maybe they'll find whoever took them."

Walker said business slowed during May because of so many graduations and decoration days at cemeteries, but she added that it will pick back up.

J.D. Smith said a lot of activities are planned for the special Memorial Day opening, including free live music, pony rides and a moon bounce for children.

"We have free parking available mostly at the front of the market and also there's 50-cent parking nearby across Old U.S. 31 and in the back lot," he said.

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