Scottsboro First Monday trade days on last leg? Vendors ask questions, we take action

SCOTTSBORO, Ala. (WHNT) – First Monday trade days have been a tradition for more than one hundred years in Scottsboro. But declining numbers of vendors and visitors has seen its prominence fall in recent years.

A vendor recently emailed and asked WHNT News 19 to look into his claim that local government no longer supports first Mondays as it had in the past.  So we decided to take action to find answers.
Bargain hunters are few and far between around the Scottsboro square - even on the Monday after July 4 - typically one of the busiest First Monday events. (Photo: David Wood, WHNT)

Bargain hunters are few and far between around the Scottsboro square – even on the Monday after July 4 – typically one of the busiest First Monday events. (Photo: David Wood, WHNT)

“Y’all see anything you like, everything is very negotiable,” said vendor Jim Montero Monday as sparse amounts of shoppers perused wares around the downtown Scottsboro courthouse square. Montero has been attending First Mondays since his childhood, when his parents came to sell.

Montero says there used to be a time not too long ago when the event drew so many people to the square you could barely walk among the traders’ trailers and tents.
“A lot of these vendors have been here over 30 years and then a lot of their parents were here before them when they were selling goats and chickens and so forth in the square,” remember Montero.
He boils the decline in attendance and sales down to dwindling support from local government.
“From what we can tell it’s apathy from city hall,” claims Montero. “This used to be advertised — you would see billboards, you see them in tourist magazines throughout the state and other states.”
Montero says that’s no longer the case.  But the century-old downtown square staple was certainly fought for in the past. WHNT News 19 visited the matter in 2005 when then Scottsboro Mayor Dan Deason was adamant on the issue.
The suggestion had come to Deason from the tourism board to limit First Mondays to one time a year on Labor Day weekend.
“In my mind, that would be putting the last nail in the coffin of First Monday, and I refuse to let that happen.  I’ve made the comment — First Monday will not die under my watch and that’s a promise,” Deason pledged in 2002.
We didn’t hear back from current Mayor Melton Potter’s office Monday but we did get a hold of J.P. Parsons, Jackson County Vice President of Destination Marketing and Tourism.
“It has dropped back in popularity,” Parsons admitted of First Mondays. “At one time they raised the prices and I think most of the vendors were averse to that.”
Parsons attributes a decline in part to similar events like popular flea markets nearby who attract not only patrons but vendors who rely on steady sales.
He says the city has taken First Mondays over but the visibility has not changed.
“We still promote them in the Alabama Vacation Guide, the state vacation guide, an in all of our media contents on our website.”
Parson seems to think some cross promotion and recruitment efforts are in order at some of the more popular trader and flea events around the area.
“Try us out again,” Parsons suggests.
But despite the waning numbers, Montero says no one is ready to just throw up their hands and pack up.
“There’s a group of people out here – really good people, hard-working people – people who’ve been here for generations who aren’t going anywhere. They’ll keep doing it even if they’re the only ones,” Montero insists.

4 comments

  • Jim Felder

    Obviously there are many, many more “trade day” and “flea market”options nowadays than there were in the heyday of First Monday on the square in Scottsboro, not even to mention the continuous flea markets online. But I think the vendors need to look at themselves as at least partially responsible. Decades before the Internet and other alternatives to a real market, my wife and our friends used to attend at least the big trade day in September each year, and more likely made a couple of visits. Then items started showing up that had just been abused or left out in the rain to rot and rust, and somehow this stuff because higher priced than the same item, new, off the shelf at the store. There is a limit on how much value people are going to place on pure junk.

  • Earl

    As a vendor of First Monday’s in Scottsboro, I feel that more advertising is needed. This town that I have come to love rather easily, is no different than the many I have been to from Florida to here. The difference is that they used their trade days as a chance to bring new family and business to their community. What better way to tell the story of Scottsboro than to come right down town and learn all the history from all the regulars and friendly old timers. You just might make some new friends. I have made many in a short period of time. There were Produce Stands that brought many people to their town on a weekly basis. A Realtor, Handmade Jewelry, Pet Supplies, Antiques, Household and Furniture Items along with much more that filled the square. There was Live Music as Scottsboro has on most of their Saturday Nights during the Cruise-in Car Show. While the new Face Lift for Scottsboro is in the works, I think more advertising is needed. Maybe a live band that everyone could enjoy during the daytime hours and some face painting for the children. A town without people and business becomes a Ghost Town. It’s in our history books. Help us to make this Eagle Fly again. Thanks!

  • Martha clarke

    My family moved to Scottsboro in 1990 from Tampa Fla. One of the things we really enjoyed, was 1st. monday Every month me, my husband & children would go walk around the square, Enjoying shopping for antiques,& eating fresh peanuts, My youngest son nick, got started collecting baseball cards another son collected knifes,It was just a fun thing to do,& it did’nt cost anything, Unless you found a bargain &.I always seem to find a bargain or two, But it was fun.I think it’s a shame 1st. monday has gone down like it has,I have a antique shop on the square called LADEDA’S I talk to customers who come in for 1st. monday They have sometimes traveled as far as 100 miles or so to shop, They come & stay in our hotels,eat at our resturants, shop all over town,I’ve even had husbands say I come to fish but, my wife comes to shop,& you never know they may even like Scottsboro & decide to make a move one day.I think we need to do what we can to bring it back.

  • Nuclear Mike

    Just like the old “Boaz” Fashion Center Hub that faded away as the money dried up and the interested shoppers just quit coming there anymore…

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