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263 Marketplace Not Going Anywhere

Despite recent warning signs, the owners of the indoor flea market plan to keep growing the business and attracting new vendors.

With the parent company in bankruptcy court, the to neighboring Hatboro and a for sale sign planted in front of the parking lot, it would be reasonable to think the is in danger of closing.

That thinking is just plain wrong, says Jerry Monagle, chief financial officer of Waterloo Gardens, which owns the building situated on York Road, across from .

"We are committed to grow the business as long as we can," said Monagle.

Originally a Pathmark Supermarket, Waterloo Gardens purchased the property in 2007 for $9 million as part of a plan to aggressively expand the landscaping supply and service company beyond its stores in Devon and Exton, according to a recent article on Philly.com. The move could not have come at a worse time, as the global economy bottomed out and Waterloo Gardens was forced to cease operations in Warminster less than a year later.

The company maintained the property and transformed it into the indoor, weekends only flea market that houses small businesses such as and ice cream shop.

In late June, Waterloo Gardens entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings and is currently working to satisfy its creditors. According to Philly.com, the company owes Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit $15 million and Commerce Corp. $400,000. Monagle predicts the company will successfully emerge by Spring 2013.

"We are eight weeks in, and we've made our numbers each week," said Monagle. "We've had several very good weeks. The plan is to get out of bankruptcy by next February or March."

Since the filing, Waterloo Gardens' flagship location in Devon closed its doors and has placed it and the Warminster site up for sale. Despite the store's entry on the real estate market, Monagle does not anticipate a buyer in the near future.

"Buildings that size are just not getting sold in this economy," said Monagle. He says the new building manager, Ginger Baker, has the retail experience to bring in new vendors to replace the ones that left and increase the booths. There are no hard feelings for the longtime businesses that departed to Hatboro, including , and .

"It is a good group of people and they carry very good products," said Monagle. "We hope they are successful in what they do." 

Monagle chalks up their moves to their desire for expanded hours beyond the weekend. He said a recent poll among the vendors showed overwhelming support for keeping the 263 Marketplace open only on the weekends.

"A lot of the business owners have other, full time jobs," said Monagle. "They like the three days a week model because it fits perfectly with their schedule."

The lease rates at the 263 Marketplace are $1.10 per square foot for a retail booth, $1.24 per square square foot for a food vendor, plus a $100 application fee for new vendors. The lease runs initially for three months, then automatically renews for one more year. Warminster also charges a $50 per year mercantile license plus a one-time use & occupancy fee of $75. Businesses selling prepared foods also need a license from the Bucks County Health Department.

It's up to the vendors to sell the products, while the 263 Marketplace management does its best to bring in the crowds. Past events have included train shows, free concerts, chili cook-offs and . In September, there will be a and a carnival, with rides, games and refreshments.

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