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Updated: 03/06/2014 08:00:02AM

Sunday flea market: purchase putters, plants, pickles and puppies

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Debra Worley, the inspiration and creator of the Sunday morning flea market at the base of Placid Tower.


Roger Foltz about ready to give two of his puppies happy homes with new families.


80-year-old Lake Placid vendor John Francis sets up his display of golf bags and clubs.


Vendor Jose Manuel looks on as his son Joe points out to a customer the fine feature of one of his mother's flower creations.


Becky Hillman proudly points to her table of delicious goodies.


A sign along U.S. 27 alerts drivers-by's of the Sunday morning farmers flea market in Lake Placid.


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Lake Placid, like many other communities, sees its fair share of weekend garage sales. Signs go up on street corners on Thursdays, announcing the Friday, and Saturday sales. But the siren call of bargains now has a broader reach.

There is also a Sunday morning garage sale without the garage. It’s a flea market at the base of the Placid Tower on U.S. 27, nestled between Platter’s Restaurant and The Tower Restaurant.

“I initiated it in January and will continue throughout the summer if customers keep coming,” said flea market organizer and manager Debra Worley.

Worley is a dynamic woman; a realtor, a Rotarian, a town council member, and the spirit behind continued lake restoration. “The vendors pay $10 a week to display their wares. I pay the Tower Group for the use of the parking lot and receive a permit from the town. It started with a few vendors and as of last Sunday over 25 booths were set up,” Worley proudly stated.

Rest rooms in the adjacent two restaurants are available. The owners of those eateries benefit from added foot traffic.

Worley handed out fliers from Venus to Sebring, attracting vendors of all sorts. “It’s become a very social event,” she said. “People meet others and share stories. It’s a very friendly atmosphere for people and their pets.”

In 2011 the State of Florida, via the Department of Agriculture, passed a law allowing and encouraging the development of Cottage Industries. If you’re a bread baker, can vegetables, paint masterpieces, flower arranger, raise puppies, or make anything delicious in your kitchen, you can sell your products and gross up to $15,000 a year in sales without being regarded as a commercial enterprise.

“Those are the entrepreneurs we are trying to attract here on Sundays,” said Worley.

On any given Sunday morning you will meet some very interesting vendors with great stories and even better products.

There’s John Francis. John is 80 years old and purchases closeout golf clubs from various sporting good stores and resells them at the market. “I came to Lake Placid from Lexington, Kentucky in 1992. I loved the place so much I called my daughter and told her to ‘sell the house.’ And I never went back,” Francis commented.

There is Roger Foltz who buys his products at garage sales and sets up his booth at the fair to resell. His dad’s dog had puppies six weeks ago so last Sunday Foltz had four adorable puppies added to his “for sale” inventory at a bargain price of $50 each.

Kim from Venus has started to grow Hydroponic Organic vegetables. “My husband and I have one acre now but hope to develop four more acres. “I’m here for the first time today to test the market for my produce,” said Kim.

Cuban transplant Jose Manuel and his son Joe are the sales arm in the family. Jose’s wife arranges silk flowers in an array of gorgeous vases. “She stared to create them nine years ago, so the market offers me the opportunity to promote her talent,” stated Manuel.

Becky Hillman is a nanny from Buffalo, N.Y. She spends six months a year in Lake Placid. “I love to bake when I’m here. Everyone raves about my baking, so I thought I’d set up a booth here and make a few bucks. My cookies sell for a dollar. I also have pecan pies, sour cream coffee cake, banana bread, plain and with nuts,” said Hillman proudly. She spends two days before the market baking and wrapping her goodies. “Presentation is often even more important than the product, so I take time making my baked goods look attractive to the customers.”

The Tower Flea Market begins at 8 a.m. every Sunday and at 1 p.m. the vendors pack up what’s left of their goods. If you have a product to sell, stop by any Sunday morning and meet Debra Worley. She’ll help you get all set to make that first buck. Who knows, your cottage industry of (fruit, jewelry, paintings, sweets, putters, plants, pickles or puppies) could go national thanks to the Sunday Flea Market in Lake Placid!

And if you’re a customer looking for a bargain, stop by on your way to or after church for a great sour cream coffee cake for Sunday brunch!