Booted from drive-in, flea market goes north

The Puget Park Drive-In was known for more than just movies.

It also had a thriving flea market that brought people from all over the Puget Sound area to the drive-in theater south of Everett on weekends, April through October.

The operator of the Puget Park Flea Market plans to continue his business — just up I-5. Rich Combs, a Portland, Ore., businessman, expects to move his flea market to a 5-acre open lot at 16520 Smokey Point Blvd., Arlington. He hopes to open May 1.

“We’re hoping to have all the things we had at Puget Park,” said Combs, who ran the flea market with his wife, Lorna Combs, from 2006 to 2009.

Combs said workers are busy getting the outdoor site ready for the 150 vendors who will occupy the flea market through October. It won’t be quite as large as the former site, which had space for 218 vendors to sell their wares.

Meanwhile, another businessman wants to start his own, saying that there’s a need for another flea market in the south end of the county.

Jim Boltz came up with the idea when he heard the drive-in was shutting down.

Why not, Boltz thought, open Lynnwood’s only flea market and swap meet?

Boltz owns Cycle Barn, the city’s largest motorcycle dealership, at 5711 188th St. SW.

He also owns a 74,000-square-foot building that until a few years ago housed Cycle Barn’s second location at 172nd Street SW and Highway 99.

Boltz has tried selling the building — and he’s nearly succeeded. Still, it remains unsold. Why not, he reasoned, collect $10 rent for every 10-foot-long by 10-foot-wide table? He could help the economy while helping himself.

“I started bouncing the idea around with my daughter and her boyfriend,” he said. “I thought, ‘My God, I could maybe not sell the building — keep it in the family.’ ”

Boltz met with City Hall officials and spent six weeks fixing up the sprawling building — putting an espresso stand back in and adding rented tables and chairs.

He set the opening for what he would call City Marketplace the weekend of April 10 and 11 — but it never happened.

Boltz said when he went to get a city business license for the flea market, he discovered Lynnwood doesn’t make allowances in its business license regulations for people who sell at swap meets or flea markets.

City regulations require any resident selling goods at a flea market or swap meet to pay what someone running a home-based business pays.

That amounts to $115.50 up-front plus $28.50 a year.

Non-residents would have to fork over $157.

Boltz said he knew people who make their living selling at flea markets would be undeterred by the license fees. He was more worried about the casual seller, the first-timers who hoped to hawk their goods.

Boltz said he surveyed nearby cities and found the average license for flea markets costs $45 per booth.

City officials are working on updating regulations, said Debbie Hodgson, the city’s business license coordinator.

In the meantime, Boltz has set the weekend of May 1-2 as the new opening date for the flea market.

“I’ve got the facility sitting there,” he said. “I think it would be a great asset to Lynnwood.”

Oscar Halpert: 425-339-3429; ohalpert@heraldnet.com.

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