Fire officials close doors to Tradersmart

Merchandise was flowing out of the Tradersmart in Glen Burnie yesterday, but it wasn't in the arms of buyers.

About 35 frustrated vendors were hauling their goods away after learning that the county fire department had ordered the building closed for 14 code violations.


Fire department investigators discovered the building -- which was designated for mercantile use only -- also was the home of a petting zoo and Bonkers, a nonalcoholic teen dance club that opened two weeks ago.

"That is not what the building was initially intended for in its use, and it's not what it was initially inspected as," said Battalion Chief Gary Sheckells, a spokesman for the fire department.


"What happened was about a week ago one evening one of our fire investigators, while routinely patrolling different areas of the county, happened to ride behind Tradersmart and see a large quantity of teens milling around" outside Bonkers, Mr. Sheckells said. "They were directed to leave."

Investigators made a more thorough inspection of the building before ordering it closed Oct. 21. They met Monday with the building manager to review the list of problems.

Tradersmart, which opened last November, fills the 80,000-square-foot cavern that used to be Mr. Goodbuys in the Beltway Crossing shopping center. It rents space to vendors who sell a variety of wares on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Now, the indoor flea market has an uncertain future. A decision to reopen must come from Richard B. Kabat, one of the owners, who is in New York, said Chuck Jackson, manager of Tradersmart and owner of Bonkers.

"I'm just as lost as these people here as to what's going on," said Mr. Jackson, adding that the fire department has offered to do whatever it can to help the establishment reopen quickly if its owners choose to do so.

Because of the problems and confusion, a Halloween Party the vendors had planned for tomorrow has been canceled. "We have to ensure the building is safe for the residents and the visitors of the county," Mr. Sheckells said.

The building cannot reopen until its owners do several things, including: removing the petting zoo and carnival rides; installing more exits; repairing exit lights; making emergency lights operational; and sealing off an electrical room from other areas, Mr. Sheckells said.

Promised the mart would stay open by its owners, despite a slow summer, vendors expressed anger at money they may lose from Christmas orders already placed. They fear if the mart closes, they not be able to find other space elsewhere on such short notice.


"We've paid our dues all summer because it's been slow and this [the Christmas season] was suppose to be our heyday." said Julie Gore, whose husband, Vernon, carried out the costume jewelry they sell at their stand. "We were taking a loss all summer just to keep it open."

"We're all going to try and set up on the sidewalk Saturday because we can't keep losing money," Mrs. Gore said.