Experience the crafts, pets, food and carousel
David Riley, the office manager of Smiley’s Flea Market, sold outdoor table spaces to vendors, whom he called by name, on a Friday morning before the weekend business hours began, telling the vendors to be sure to be set up by 8:00 a.m.
“Flashlights and headlights, you know they’ll be out here, “ Riley said to a vendor who wanted to rent a table to sell yard-sale type items. Gates open for vendors on Saturday and Sunday mornings at 5:00 a.m., but most vendors arrive much earlier to try to beat the crowd.
Smiley’s Flea Market, located on Hawkinsville Road just a few miles from the interstate, caters to buyers and sellers alike with over 15,00 total indoor and outdoor rental table spaces and an almost excessive variety of goods and services waiting to be found.
Anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 people visit Smiley’s on an average weekend, but Riley said tax season and spring season are their busiest times of year.
Smiley’s claims to be Georgia’s largest and finest flea market and are devoted to creating a positive experience for everyone involved.
Carl Dorego, the manager, said that since Smiley’s is a family-owned business, it strives to be family-oriented in its operations.
Holiday events add to the family-oriented atmosphere. The most recent celebration featured an Easter egg hunt, and even the Easter bunny was in attendance.
Riley said, “Smiley’s is one of the best places I’ve ever had the opportunity to work for.”
Try to let the name fool you because you certainly will have a smile on your face walking around the grounds. Decorated with colorful, triangular banners and even boasting a carousel where kids can catch a ride for only a buck, Smiley’s in Macon treats its customers and vendors to a distinctive and amusing experience, while also being safe and clean.
Fragrant oils, furniture, custom belts made to order, appliances, self-defense tools and a variety of baked goods are consistent goods offered at Smiley’s. Local craftspeople, however, travel near and far to showcase their one-of-a-kind treasures.
Once a month, Smiley’s gives away a free table to non-profit organizations who aim to educate the public.
Transitory vendors, who are usually only passing through, offer unique pottery, antique Civil War collectibles, handmade chairs and tables, custom birdhouses, custom fishing lures and handmade knives, and even clothing made by hand.
These types of vendors remain on the road, trekking from one flea market to another and selling their custom creations along the way.
Dorego said the craziest thing he ever saw being sold at Smiley’s were little animals nicknamed sugar gliders, what he described as tiny flying squirrels.
For the people who experience hunger and thirst after shopping, there exists plenty of cuisine to choose from: Jamaican food, authentic Spanish cuisine, BBQ, Cuban food and even carnival-like food. All vendors wishing to sell baked goods must follow Bibb County Health Department regulations.
Smiley’s always searches for ways to expand. Soon they will demolish the back half of the antique market to make room for a new farmer’s market. The farmer’s market will sell a variety of fruit, vegetables and plants.
Other Smiley’s Flea Market locations include Fletcher, N.C., and an antique mall in Micanopy, Fla.