The Amish market draws people from around Central Maryland, such as Melanie Elgin, of Arbutus, in Baltimore County.

Elgin is a regular shopper at flea markets with Amish goods around the state.

"We hit them all every weekend," she said.

Local resident Terry Koppenhaver ran a table covered with signed petition sheets and had signs urging support of the Amish vendors taped to the edges.

"I'm just a customer, a concerned consumer," she said.

A regular shopper at the Amish market stalls, she said she wanted to stand up for the vendors.

"I'm willing to do whatever it takes to keep them here," she told shoppers who signed the petition Saturday.

Koppenhaver said supporters are working to get 10,000 signatures. Nacke said more than 6,000 had been obtained since the petition drive began last week.

Shevin Peavy, of Edgewood, signed the petition and also called his mother, who agreed to pledge her support.

"It's definitely a nice place to go, and it's close to home," he said.

Redner's, headquartered in Reading, Pa., operates 42 "warehouse markets" in Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania, including locations in Joppatowne and Bel Air North, plus 16 "quick shoppes" in the region, according to the company website.

Corporate officials released a detailed page-and-a-half statement explaining their position to the community.

"Please know that Redner's has not taken, and absolutely will not take, any action against any vendors within The Joppatowne Flea Market," officials stated. "We have filed a lawsuit against our landlord, Joppatowne G.P. Limited Partnership ("the landlord"), for breaching the lease agreement that we signed with it."

Redner's spokesman Eric White wrote in an e-mail Monday that a restrictive covenant "is standard in all of our lease agreements."

Redner's officials stated those provisions "are almost always included in shopping center leases because grocery stores like ours cannot survive without them. We would not have picked this location without this protection in our lease, and we expect that no comparable grocery store chain would have either."

"We hope that the landlord does what is right by them," Redner's officials said of the Amish vendors in their statement. "We have told the landlord about available space in the area for these people, and hope that the landlord bears the costs associated with moving them into this cheaper space. We invite the landlord to use some of the many millions that Redner's is paying it for space to ease any burden to the vendors."

Neither the owner of Lapp's Meat's or the Cordish organization could be reached for comment as of late Monday afternoon.