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Dania Marine Flea Market Celebrates 30th at Dolphin Stadium Hundreds of sellers and thousands of buyers show up at the Dania Marine Flea Market.

By Janet and Manuel Verdeguer

he 30th annual Dania Beach Marine Flea Market took place March 6-9 at Dolphin Stadium. This was year three at this venue, and some exhibitors didn’t hesitate to say they strongly believe the move from Dania has sapped some of the spirit out of the show. Due to scheduling conflicts, this year’s market fell in early March as opposed to its regular slot at the end of the month. As a triple whammy, cloudy skies and rain threatened opening day. Yet despite these setbacks, there were many satisfied buyers and sellers. As we walked the aisles on a crisp, sunny Sunday afternoon, attendance was brisk, and we saw many happy boaters leaving with arms, pull carts or tote bags chock-full of hard-bargained-for nautical loot. As late as 3 p.m. some folks were still buying tickets—no doubt to see if they could negotiate even better deals at the 11th hour.


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Over the past 30 years an annual trek to the Dania Beach Marine Flea market has become almost sacrosanct for South Florida boating aficionados. Likewise, local, regional and national marine-related businesses have come to rely on this event to blow out overstocked, obsolete, used or “scratch and dent” articles that can’t be sold though normal channels. “What makes our market unique is its pleasant, almost party-like atmosphere for engaging in friendly and, sometimes, intense ‘bargaining.’ Thousands of boating related items are sold through a system of dickering and dealing at a fraction of their retail value,” says show originator, Al Behrendt. Thirty years ago Behrendt was cleaning up his marina, tossing things in a Dumpster, when he realized other marinas must have a similar situation. From this brainstorm the idea for the flea market was born, and the first was held at Dania Jai Alai fronton in 1979 with some 50 exhibitors. Boat owners, fishermen, divers and anyone with an interest in things nautical find this market to be a bargain hunter’s dream come true. Some even come from out of state, such as Leonard Spicer, a marine mechanic from Springfield, TN, who has returned eight years in a row looking for parts. Alex Tara of Ft. Pierce chose the show to introduce RunAgain Marine Salvage, his burgeoning Internet salvage business. “This show? Great, actually,” stated Tara. Because of his success Tara plans to include more shows in his schedule. “This is the only retail business we do,” said first-timer Bill Hanson, director of technical services for Navimo USA, Sarasota, parent company of European manufacturers Max Power, Plastino, Goiot, Nuova Rade and XM Yachting, “All our regular business is handled through distributors.” Hanson described the show as “Interesting. There’s just no guessing what will sell and what won’t. I’ve seen good stuff at good prices—and no one goes near it. Then I’ve seen people pick up junk and it’s gold to them.” Another first-timer, Ken MacPherson, sales manager of inflatable importer Bahia Boat, Plantation, commented, “This is much better than other shows I’ve done this year.” Gail Prestera, RT2 Concepts, Pompano Beach, introducing a new type of removable decals, was even more enthusiastic: “For a first show this has been fantastic.” “This show is a great idea,” said Tom O’Connor of the Stiltsville Optimist Club of Miami Springs. “Anybody who has anything they are not using and wants to get rid of it – this is the place. There’s everything here from junk to new stuff!” A Key Largo salvager who has been doing the show for