Rising Above


Eleven years ago, local merchants encouraged Betty Zimmerman to build a flea market on her vacant parcel of land in Walnut Creek.

“They told Mom, ‘If you build it, we will come,’” said Januery Tango, who, with Zimmerman, her mother, owns Walnut Creek Amish Flea Market. “And they did.”

Following a devastating fire that destroyed the local landmark in August 2019, Tango and Zimmerman have built it again.

And once again, the vendors have come.

Of the nearly 60 vendors who peddled their wares at the flea market before the blaze, all but a handful were back in their booths when the facility reopened on Thursday, July 30.

“We are like a family here, and we missed seeing all of our vendors,” Tango said. “I think our visitors can feel that sense of family when they come in. It’s wonderful to have them all back. Although there were four or five who decided to retire after the fire, we gained some new vendors — some really neat new businesses that we’re very excited about.”

The flea market is now open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through Saturday, Dec. 19. The building, Tango said, is bigger and better than before.

“We took advantage of the beautiful land surrounding us and added a second sightseeing deck to our new building,” she said. “People have always loved taking in the landscape, so we rebuilt the east-facing deck, and we’ve added a second deck in the front with a nice view looking south and west. It’s just absolutely gorgeous. We had it landscaped and added some waterfalls, so you can just kind of sit down there, relax and enjoy the view. I grew up here and have lived here my whole life, but I never get tired of the scenery.”

Inside, the new flea market hosts merchants that sell everything from jewelry to home goods, to beauty supplies, to herbs and cooking supplies.

“We don’t duplicate items,” Tango said. “That means you’re not going to see the same things over and over again from different vendors. It also increases the variety of goods that are offered to our visitors.”

Most vendors at Walnut Creek Amish Flea Market are local, but Tango noted that some come from as far away as West Virginia.

“In the rebuild, we’ve expanded the blue building, which is the main building, so we were able to add some additional spaces,” she said. “One thing we made sure not to lose was our family atmosphere. Our new vendors fit right in. They share the same values.”

Because Walnut Creek Amish Flea Market is pet friendly, guests are bound to witness some unusual sights while exploring the merchants.

“We’ve had just about every possible pet come in,” she said. “We’ve had dogs and cats, a parrot, and even a monkey. We have so many people visiting from out of town, and we don’t want them to leave their pets in the car. We want them to enjoy their time here without worrying about their animals. We’ve added an outdoor pet-relief area for their convenience.”

Even more animals will be on display at the flea market’s Kids Day on Saturday, Sept. 26 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event will feature critters from The Farm at Walnut Creek, along with inflatables and other activities.

For hungry visitors, Grandma Schrock’s kitchen, located in the food court, offers burgers, hot dogs and other sandwiches, along with affordable dinner specials.

“We also have a bakery and other food vendors who sell things like roasted almonds and nuts, macaroons, jerky, popcorn, and fudge,” Tango said.

Walnut Creek Amish Flea Market has been an Amish Country staple since it opened in 2009. The attraction, Tango said, has drawn about 180,000 visitors per year.

Last year’s fire, she said, started with a lightning strike and resulted in $2.5 million in damage. The merchants lost everything in the building, said Tango, who credited Shrock Restoration — Rainbow International of Millersburg for the building’s restoration.

Walnut Creek Amish Flea Market is located at 1900 State Route 39 in Walnut Creek. You can visit WalnutCreekAmishFleaMarket.com or call 330-852-0181 for more information.