McHENRY – The pending sale of the property that houses Eckel’s Flea Market, and the City Council’s approval last month of a variance to allow an indoor shooting range in the building, has “destroyed our business,” Jennifer Eckel said.
Eckel co-owns the indoor flea market at 3705 W. Elm St., also known at Route 120, with her husband, Carl, and has operated there since November 2011.
McHenry business owner Bertram Irslinger has a contract to purchase the property from owner Tom Sullivan.
On Sept. 24, the City Council voted, 5-1, to allow Irslinger to open a sporting goods store in half of the 16,000-square-foot building and shooting range in the other half when the purchase is complete.
Irslinger, who owns Second Amendment Sports at 409 Front St., could not be reached for comment, but after the vote said, “My hope is we’ll be up and running in six months.”
The weekend after the vote and Irslinger’s comment, the Eckels said, less than 100 people showed up at the flea market.
Typically the business draws 400 to 500 people over a weekend, they said.
Additionally, some vendors have dropped out of the market, which has two years left on its lease of the building, the Eckels said.
Property owner Sullivan, in a letter to the Eckels dated Sept. 28, indicated they could continue to lease the building for at least six months “from the time any purchase is made.”
Terms call for the lease to be bought out if the property is sold, the Eckels said.
Sullivan confirmed the letter but declined to talk about the purchase contract with Irslinger.
While the flea market business has picked up some in recent weeks, the Eckels said they want to assure customers the business is not going away. “We’ll be here for the winter holiday season,” Jennifer Eckel said.