Forondo B. Holmes is a man with many ideas. When he wakes up in the morning, one of the countless things on his mind is how to build something positive for his community. That’s why he pursued his dream to open a marketplace to support local business owners by opening the new Upscale Flea Market in the newly renovated commercial space in the Circle Shopping Center, across from Southside Plaza between Save A Lot and It’s Fashion Metro.
Forondo opened Upscale Flea Market to provide affordable space to small businesses and individuals wanting to sell their services and merchandise. The idea was born from Forondo’s many visits to retail establishments and flea markets. He sees the flea markets as an ideal way for people to sell their products without having to pay an expensive store lease. He wants to see more aspiring small business owners take advantage of the low-cost vendor space. And, he sees this as a viable alternative for some businesses who may have been forced to closed their doors due to the struggling economy. He also wants to use his business as another way to give back to his community.
Upscale Flea Market is one of his many dreams for the Richmond community. Just two years ago, Forondo was laid off from two different jobs. Today, he owns a thriving business. Forondo is a member of First Baptist Church of South Richmond. His church family and the Imani Community Development Corporation has played a pivotal role in the opening of the Upscale Flea Market. Last year, the Imani Community Development Corporation afforded Forondo the opportunity to rent vacant space on Hull Street to open The Venus Theater Bazaar for the holiday season. The response was so positive it prompted Forondo to make a call he had been thinking about for a while. He had his eye on a property on Belt Boulevard that was being renovated. The owner listened to what he wanted to do and loved the idea and by the spring, the new Upscale Flea Market was born.
The Upscale Flea Market store layout is designed with a boutique-like feel. When you walk into the Upscale Flea Market, there is an immediate feeling of “family”. The vendors are very friendly, always checking on one another and looking out for one another. Customers and vendors chat about current events and laugh together. There are a diverse number of vendors from various cultures around the world. The Flea Market basically represents a microcosm of the surrounding community.
There are several businesses represented in the Upscale Flea Market. There is a little of everything there. You can find: jewelry, pre-paid phones, homemade baked goods, designer handbags, furniture, hand-carved sculptures and chairs, custom printed t-shirts, women’s dress suits, jeans, clothing, alterations, cultural items, computer and printing services, Pre-Paid Legal Services, household items for $1, AVON, hand sewn pastoral robes, sports paraphernalia, hats, caps, and sunglasses. Everything sold at Upscale is authentic.
Future plans include offering music on Sundays and information sessions on topics like financial planning, health issues and other important topics that impact the community. There are also plans to add an Internet Café giving the public access to free WiFi.
Forondo attributes his success to God and the support of his family and friends. His faith keeps him going. His family keeps him pushing. While unemployed, he thought about his responsibilities as a father of four and decided he needed to continue his entrepreneurial pursuits.
The encouragement and assistance of his fiancée, his family, his church, vendors at the flea market and many others, allows Forondo to help others bring their entrepreneurial dreams to life.
Forondo has some advice to those who are inspired by his story. He says, “Never lose sight of your dream. When you encounter obstacles, always remember, “Delay Does Not Mean Denial.” And most of all, he urges our community to support one another. “If we don’t support each other, then we’re going down.” That is exactly why Upscale Flea Market was opened—to be a shining example of a business on an upward trajectory of success. “Our goal is to provide a unique shopping experience to everyone who enters this establishment by providing a broad range of high-quality products and services. Our slogan is: ‘Not just another flea market, but a shopping experience’ and we try to stay true to that idea.”
Forondo named the store Upscale Flea Market because he wants to give business owners and the community something of which to be proud. It symbolizes the positive direction he envisions for the future of a community he loves. “Upscale to me means – a higher standard of quality with no limits. I’m proud to be a product of a community that has always uplifted each other.”
Upscale Flea Market is located at 449-F East Belt Boulevard in the Circle Shopping Center across from Southside Plaza. Store hours are: Thursday through Saturday from 10 am until 7 pm and Sundays from 11 am until 6 pm. The Flea Market is also open the first seven days of every month from 10 am until 7 pm. Upscale Flea Market is committed to serving as a venue for community groups to utilize for fundraisers and other worthy causes.
For more information about the Upscale Flea Market or how to become a vendor, call 804-305-1660.