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Deer Creek Flea Market & Campground: A story of perseverance

By Mark Pitonzo

Date:

PHOTO CREDIT: DAN SIDON/ DEER CREEK FLEA MARKET & CAMPGROUND

PULASKI — 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 businessperson, that statement is precisely what transpired with Dan and Debra Sidon in their quest to secure small-business ownership. 

Dan Sidon 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 businessperson. The very same day, Dan received information about the Deer Creek Flea Market near Pulaski. This 22-acre property is located just outside Pulaski, in the town of Richland, on State Route 3. It has been a popular stop along Northern New York’s highly traveled Sea Way Trail in spring, summer, and fall for more than 50 years. Dan didn’t spend a lot of time dwelling on the lost opportunity but instead focused on the one presented the 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, the Sidons were able to finalize the deal in the fall of 2019.

Deer Creek Flea Market & Campground owner Dan Sidon. (PHOTO CREDIT: DAN SIDON/ DEER CREEK FLEA MARKET & CAMPGROUND)

Prior to this, Dan Sidon had worked in both the restaurant and construction business for more than 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 Sidon faced were blessings in disguise. He was able to take occupancy of the property prior to formally taking ownership. That allowed Sidon 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, he 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 Deer Creek Flea Market runs from May 1 to Sept. 30. Sidon currently has many vendors who return each season to rent space inside the vast 14,600-square-foot 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 cozy snack shop with an eating deck. 

The Deer Creek Flea Market currently has 90 spaces indoors and more than 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. It currently has 60-plus spaces for indoor winter storage of boats and campers. Sidon 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. He wants his business to be a spring, summer, and fall destination for families and hopes to eventually include small music festivals.

While he has faced his share of challenges, Sidon has loved meeting the large number of people that visit this market from all over the Northeast, including Canada, and have made this a seasonal destination.

Sidon notes 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.” 

Your work 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.”

For more information on the Deer Creek Flea Market & Campground, please visit its website at www.deercreekfleamarket.com or Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Deer-Creek-Flea-Market-1020335658160899. 

Advisor’s Business Tip: Small-business success can often be the result of “situational flexibility and resiliency.” Look for gaps that have gone unaddressed in the marketplace. Once you’ve made the decision to move forward with a business, don’t let obstacles stand in the way of your entrepreneurial dreams. Your startup team must be responsive and resilient.   

Mark Pitonzo is a business advisor at the SBDC’s satellite office located at Onondaga Community College @Liverpool. Contact him at m.j.pitonzo2@sunyocc.edu

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