Out With the Old, In With the New

New mercado and Walgreens to replace downtown flea market

POSTED: 08:15 PM MST Feb 18, 2013    UPDATED: 09:16 PM MST Jan 14, 2014 

For more than 20 years Rodrigo Galvan operated his small resale business from a parking lot on the edge of downtown El Paso.

Galvan, along with dozens of other vendors hocking used housewares, clothing and electrical appliances, operated businesses from what looked more like a tent city than a shopping venue.

Beneath canvas tarps, the salesmen often worked seven days-a-week, for decades.  They fared sueltering heat and debilitating winds in rental spaces that cost ten dollars an afternoon.

"Now I pay about 20 dollars a day," Galvan said from his new indoor space located a few blocks from where the flea market used to operate.

Galvan's new business is located in the Tiradero Market at the intersection of El Paso Street and Paisano.

"I can still make a living, " Galvan said. "The other [vendors], I don't know where they went. Some came here, some of them went to Albuquerque or Phoenix."

The parking lot on Oregon Street and Paisano used to be the grounds of the flea market but is now under construction.

Bulldozers and construction crews have replaced the salesmen and crowds of shoppers from across the border.

Galvan says six months ago he and his fellow vendors were given a few hours to vacate the flea market.

The next day, a chain-link fence with 'no tresspassing' signs was erected.

The construction that started last week is the initial phase of development on the property, soon to be a Walgreen's Pharmacy. 

"If I don't go to Walgreens, where am I going to go," downtown resident Fernando Ferrer said.  "Especially for a lot of us down here, we don't have any transportation to speak of, so I think it's a really good idea."

Others feel differently.  Some people see the gentrification of downtown, also being called "progress," as the loss of the area's identity.

"I think it's a bad idea," a downtown shopper said. "A lot of people used to go to the flea market because it was cheap.  The people that live here don't have the money to buy expensive stuff."

The new mercado is scheduled to open this summer.  Developers have said it will be home to 30 shops selling Mexican-style goods, exclusively.  It will also house a Mexican grocery market and two coffee shops.

A Walgreen's spokesman confirms the pharmacy will open its doors in the summer as well.