In the wake of the Dec. 8 fire that destroyed about a quarter of the vendor booths at Calexico’s Santo Tomas swap meet, merchants said in recent interviews recovery has been slow.
The popular marketplace was closed until Dec. 21 and then allowed to partially open in the parking lot. The swap meet owner allowed vendors back in on Feb. 11, a city official said, but the city has filed suit to reverse that, alleging code violations.
Flor Rubio, who sells clothing items said on Feb. 28 it has been hard times since the fire has affected the flow of customers compared. Weeks after she returned to her original swap meet space, Rubio said there is not enough clientele.
”I hope business can pick up again since we are having a hard time selling, ” Rubio explained.
Agencies have offered merchants loans and financial assistance but Rubio decided said she decided not to pursue it since she would not be able to pay back the loan.
”The city has been helpful but has put on us many requirements. All I ask from them is to allow us to work, ” Rubio said.
Jose Ponce, a merchant at Santo Tomas, said he is hopeful that things will blossom again once there is an improvement to the swap meet. Ponce, who sells mattresses, said more improvements are merchants can return and motivate customers to visit them.
”We still need electricity since we don't have power at the moment and I would like to see a roof on top of the stalls that way it can protect us from the rain and heat, ” Ponce said.
Alfonso Martinez, who works with Ponce, said people supporting the Calexico economy and Santo Tomas are the residents from Mexicali who have done so for decades. Martinez added he hopes the electrical issues are solved before the summer heat arrives.
”When they come from Mexicali all the organized commerce of Calexico benefits,” Martinez said.