Saturday, October 2, 1999

New management
takes over at
stadium swap meet

Vendors have to pay a full month's
rent in advance to reserve a stall

By Debra Barayuga


It should be business as usual today at the Aloha Stadium swap meet, according to the event's new management.

Except for closing a half-hour earlier at 2:30 p.m. to accommodate the University of Hawaii football game, the public can expect to see no changes, said Phil Shimmin, president of Consolidated Amusement, which took over the swap meet yesterday.

But while Consolidated says it is working toward a smooth transition, vendors who had rented stalls from Aloha Flea Market say they will wait before they decide to stay.

Vendors had predicted chaos after the Stadium Authority severed its 20-year relationship with Aloha Flea Market owner Edward Medeiros and voted not to renew his contract, which expired Thursday.

Yesterday, Consolidated held an informational briefing at Pearlridge Theaters so vendors could register in advance for preferred stalls at today's swap meet and for the rest of October.

Lee Tran, who represents about 350 Vietnamese vendors who rented stalls from Aloha Flea Market, said there is still confusion over what hours the swap meet will operate.

He said there also is confusion about what happens to vendors who failed to show up at yesterday's registration, since Consolidated has not adopted any rules or regulations.

Tran earlier had sought a court order to block the Stadium Authority from taking over the flea market until administrative rules are in place. But Circuit Judge Gary Chang ruled last week that Tran's fears about his T-shirt business being harmed were speculative, and denied the order.

Tran said vendors who showed up to register for stalls yesterday were told they had to pay a full month's rent in advance to reserve a stall. Rental fees, however, were the same as they had paid under Aloha Flea Market.

Vendor fees are expected to remain the same during the transition, and no thought has been given to possible changes, said Glenn Yim, Consolidated's director of operations.

Tran paid $935 for two stalls -- the same ones he has rented for the past 16 years, three days a week. But some vendors were turned away because they couldn't afford to pay the full amount, he said. "People had no choice."

Under the previous system, vendors could reserve a stall and show up before 8 a.m. on the day of the swap meet to pay. If the vendor didn't show by then, the stall could be rented out to anyone.

While Consolidated is experienced in running eight swap meets on the mainland and has operated the Kam Drive-In for the past 35 years, Shimmin said he expects some rough spots during the transition.

"It would've been a lot easier for us if we waited a couple weeks before opening, but it's not fair for the vendors to close down while we struggle through this," he said.

The Stadium Authority announced that effective today and whenever UH plays at home, vendors must be out by 2:30 p.m., and buyers won't be allowed in after 1:30 p.m. The change was made to accommodate fans who arrive early for UH football games, Yim said.

Also yesterday, a Circuit judge continued a hearing on Medeiros' request for a preliminary injunction against the Stadium Authority for violating the open-meetings law when it decided not to renew Aloha Flea Market's contract.

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