WIESBADEN, Germany - On Saturday, May 21, at 9 a.m., U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden opened its gates on Wiesbaden’s Hainerberg to an international audience for the first German-American Flea Market.
German and American sellers were able to offer their goods to a diverse audience from near and far between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. The USAG Wiesbaden Directorate of Family, Military Welfare and Recreation provided each vendor a parking spot in front of the Taunus Theater on a first-come-first-serve basis. Mark Smith, MWR's business operations chief, said that the first sellers lined up to grab one of the popular spots as early as 5:30 a.m.
He and his colleague Corinna Faulk, MWR business manager, started planning this event a while ago. “When we did the German-American Fest in 2018, we were wondering what else we could do, which would allow us to partner with the host nation,” Smith said.
“The idea behind it was to bring the two communities together; have one location where we could give our American community the chance to sell their goods to a wide audience during PCS season.”
Around 70 vendors offered a diverse array of goods to a large audience. German vendor Laura Wagner from Wiesbaden said that she wanted to free some space in her attic.
“The atmosphere here is absolutely great; everybody is very friendly. I already sold a lot of goods. It's great that somebody else can enjoy them,” Wagner said. “I also didn’t mind that the U.S. military police searched my vehicle when I arrived here. It actually made me feel very safe and secure.”
Flea market shopper Sina Gerhardt from Mainz and her two kids visited the flea market as well, hoping to find some uniquely American things.
“There are not as many American vendors here as I thought, but I found some toys that I’ve never seen in German stores before,” Gerhardt said. Gerhardt hopes that there will be another German-American flea market again soon.
Mark Smith was very excited about the turnout. “Based on the amount of people, we’re doing something they want,” he said. “However, I would like to see some more American vendors.
Smith thinks bringing this event back again in the fall would be beneficial. One of the lessons learned, was to make the event a little easier to find.
“Some folks came from as far as the Kaiserslautern area, but they didn’t know where the Berliner Strasse gate was. We will learn from that,“ Smith said.
However, Smith also applauded all the different directorates of USAG Wiesbaden that worked together to prepare this unique event for the first time.
“So many things have worked out well. We had so much support from the MPs and the PONDS guards and all the other directorates. This was great!”