Two local entrepreneurs have crafted an idea to make use of the old Eastland Mall site and support local businesses.
The Charlotte Open Air Market will debut Saturday morning and feature local clothing vendors, food trucks and nonprofits.
Errick Curtis-Pulley, the market’s co-founder, said the idea is to host local vendors every weekend into the fall and hopefully into the winter. The market will take place on the southeast side of the property, near the old Hannaford grocery store space.
The former shopping center at 5471 Central Ave. was the largest mall in North Carolina when it opened in 1975. It was a regional showplace at the time, touting a skating rink and the state’s first food court. The mall suffered over the years as crime rose in the area, and the mall closed in 2010 and was demolished in 2013.
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“It seems like this area has been a little bit of a wasteland. It’s not being used and barely maintained,” Curtis-Pulley said. “This is something we can do on the east side of Charlotte to bring back some life over here.”
He hopes the market can capture the diversity of the area.
“Even on the east side of Charlotte, there’s a ton of culture,” Curtis-Pulley said. “If you want different types of food, you come over here. This is a really good place to bring a multicultural type of market.”
Curtis-Pulley, who previously worked in insurance, and his business partner, Theodore Williams, who has a background in IT and mechanics, have been leasing spaces that are 18 feet by 18 feet for $15 a day. It’s ideal, Curtis-Pulley said, for small businesses who might not be able to afford storefronts.
The market’s hours will be 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The two are bringing a few tables and tents for vendors to use, but are encouraging people to bring their own. And Williams also said next month the two plan to bring in a stage, local bands and local DJs.
“We’re trying to make it much more than just a flea market,” Williams said.