Sir Richard Branson, British business magnate, author, investor, philanthropist and billionaire owner of the Virgin Group of businesses once said, “Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming.” As concise a statement as that is by such a prominent business person, that statement is precisely what transpired with Dan and Debra Sidon in their quest to secure small business ownership.
Dan had been primarily focused on purchasing an existing campground business for families. While he was able to locate one for sale that appealed to him, the property was sold to another business person. The very same day, Dan received information about the Deer Creek Flea Market in Pulaski, New York. This 22-acre property was located just outside Pulaski on State Route 3 and has been a very popular stop along the highly traveled New York’s Sea Way Trail in spring, summer and fall for over 50 years. Dan didn’t spend a lot of time dwelling on the lost opportunity but instead focused on the one presented the very same day.
As most business owners can attest to, there are many common threads among successful small business entrepreneurs. They include perseverance, work ethic, positivity, resiliency, and flexibility. Those were the essential traits necessary to make this dream a reality. There were a host of “speed bumps” that Dan had to navigate around in the process of completing this transaction. Some were operational, and some were legal. And while the transaction took several months to complete, Dan and Debra were able to finalize the transaction in the Fall of 2019.
Prior to this, Dan had worked in both the restaurant and construction business for over 25 years. His industry experience was perfectly suited to making this a successful business venture given the long-term vision for the property. Unfortunately, the property had been neglected over time and required someone to come in with a plan and the knowledge to make it a reality. Some of the challenges that Dan faced were blessings in disguise. Dan was able to take occupancy of the property prior to formally taking ownership. That allowed Dan the opportunity to take a “pulse” on the property, assess what needed to be done, interact with the vendors and customers, and formulate a game plan for the coming months. Because of his practical construction experience, Dan literally rolled up his sleeves and began working on plumbing and electrical issues as well as cleaning the property to breathe new life into it in 2019.
The Flea Market runs from May 1st to September 30th. Dan currently has many vendors who return each season to rent space inside the vast 14,600 sq. ft. pole barns. They sell everything from antiques, arts and crafts, as well as sporting goods to apparel. As Dan has noted, “This is an environmentally friendly flea market as we have many repurposed items for sale.” Inside the sprawling barns are public restrooms for vendors and customers, and even a very cozy snack shop with an eating deck.
Currently, there are over 90 spaces indoors and over 40 spaces outdoors for vendors. In addition, there is parking for 250 cars. In the off season, the facility is utilized by the huge amount of local boat owners who need to rent indoor storage for their vessels, which is another great revenue source that the property provides. Currently, there are 60+ spaces for indoor winter storage of boats and campers. Dan plans to provide customers with two opportunities this season to set up a “Garage Sale” on the property at no charge. Soon, Dan’s dream of providing safe, comfortable campground facilities for families will be realized. Dan wants this to be a spring, summer and fall destination for families and hope to eventually include small music festivals.
While it’s had it’s share of challenges, Dan has loved meeting the large number of people that visit this market from all over the Northeast including Canada that have made this a seasonal destination.
Dan noted that this couldn’t have been accomplished without the help of both his wife and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Onondaga Community College. “This has been a real treat. I can see myself doing this until I can’t work any longer without help. I needed help understanding my options as a business entity, business plan development, financial projections and securing working capital for the purchase of the property, renovations and new equipment. I couldn’t have accomplished this without the help of my SBDC Business Advisor, Mark Pitonzo. He helped make the process much easier and was wonderful to work with.”
The work you do is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to do great work is love what you’re doing. As author Nicole Snow said, “A small business is an amazing way to serve and leave an impact on the world you live in.”
Article published in the 'The Central New York Business Journal' on March 9, 2020
Article by Mark Pitonzo, a business advisor at the Small Business Development Center’s satellite office located at Onondaga Community College @Liverpool. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org