Hartville Marketplace buzzes with business

Brenna McNamara

Vendors at the Hartville Marketplace sell mostly handmade or used goods, including this clothing found at a shop in the outdoor section of the market. CAITLIN PRARAT | SUMMER KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

Four days a week, hundreds of vendors gather in one place to bargain off miscellaneous items ranging from collectable jars to rocks to old Happy Meal toys.

The Hartville Marketplace, which is noted on its Web site as “a shopping experience you have to see to believe,” is 100,000 square feet and is located in Hartville, about 30 minutes from Kent. It includes indoor and outdoor flea markets along with the Hartville Kitchen, which serves home-style food.

“Nothing makes a better weekend than heading to Hartville and spending the cool mornings outside at the flea market, then wandering around the Marketplace, then filling my family’s tummies with some country cooking at the Kitchen,” said Linda Barnhart of Brimfield.

At the outdoor half of the flea market, vendors usually arrive at 7 a.m. to get a good spot and set up.

“Outside it’s like a giant garage sale,” said Lou Cowles of Hartville. “People come because they are curious onlookers, devoted customers, collectors or basically anyone looking for a deal.”

Marketplace vendor Lisa Harold said “It’s so much better to sell my collection here instead of eBay. I can make 10 times what I make in a week (on eBay) in one weekend (at the flea market) because this place just crawls with collectors.”

For the outdoor flea market, the season runs May through September.

The indoor half is filled with vendors who have a more permanent setting than those who sell outdoors.

“Inside the Marketplace is another world,” said shopper Judy Cromwell of Columbia Station, Ohio. “It’s organized and as good of quality as a mall.”

Indoor vendors are also more responsible for the look of their selling space.

“We have to paint and decorate the walls ourselves to make our shop look more homely,” said Katie Hochstetler, who runs a shop filled with knickknacks made by the Amish.

There is a shop called Ten Thousand Villages, which store manager Edna May Shlabach said sells higher-priced items such as soapstone statues from India, olive wood from Kenya and bongos. The store is “dedicated to remembering the forgotten poor” by traveling to Third World countries and buying their creations for as much as, if not more, than they are sold for at the store.

The Hartville Marketplace and Flea Market began in 1939 as a livestock auction, according to its Web site. Now one of Ohio’s largest flea markets, it moved down the street to its current location in 2002.

The Hartville Marketplace is open Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Across the parking lot from the market is the Hartville Kitchen, which almost always has a line to get in.

The restaurant seats 440 people in its dining room, where cheeseburgers, Cobb salads, roast beef with gravy, broiled fish, homemade pies and other dishes are served. Its homemade salad dressings and pies are available to purchase at the bakery or in local grocery stores.

The Hartville Kitchen, which is closed Wednesdays and Sundays, is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Contact features correspondent Brenna McNamara at [email protected].