Photo: Mountain Top Flea Market in Attalla recently reopened after closing briefly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy of Mountain Top Flea Market)
By Katie Bohannon, News Editor
Over 50 years ago, Mountain Top Flea Market first welcomed dealers and buyers to its location off U.S. Highway 278 West in Attalla. After briefly closing due to COVID-19, the market once again invited guests to spend their Sundays there, reassuring both locals and tourists that Mountain Top is safe to visit – rain or shine.
Mountain Top Manager Janie Terrell implemented all guidelines recommended by the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding COVID-19 at her market. Though Mountain Top regularly welcomes hundreds of people each Sunday, crowd gathering is prohibited during this time and social distancing is required.
Terrell noted since the reopening, guests and dealers are maintaining a six-feet distance from others in check-out lines and while browsing merchandise and wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Because Mountain Top is an outdoor market, the location provides ample room to practice all necessary precautions.
Mountain Top sprouted in the late 1970s after Terrell and her husband, Cowboy, decided to venture away from farming. On the way back from a trip north, the couple stopped at a market near Andersonville, South Carolina. Inspired by the unique experience, the Terrell’s envisioned and established their very own market in Alabama.
One of the first flea markets of its kind, Mountain Top grew to become an important component in founding the National Flea Market Association, with Cowboy serving as one of the officers responsible for forming the nationwide organization. As the Terrells expanded their market, they learned valuable lessons from others on how to develop their business.
The Terrells consulted Mr. Humphrey in Florida, who at one time ran the largest flea market in the United States. Humphrey mentored the Terrells in the legalities and daily responsibilities of running a successful flea market, such as developing appropriate partnerships between owners and dealers. While Humphrey shared his wisdom with the Terrells, he only asked one thing of them in return.
“[Humphrey’s] thing was turn around and help somebody who comes behind you,” said Terrell. “That’s what we’ve always tried to do. I’ve had people contact us from all over the United States, and we’ve been glad to share things with them to help them get started.”
Drawing dealers from all regions of Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana and North and South Carolina, Mountain Top Flea Market offers a plethora of vendors catering to a wide variety of shoppers. With so many individuals coinciding together at her market, meeting people from different walks of life is one aspect of running Mountain Top that Terrell treasures.
“I enjoy meeting all these people because they come from all over,” said Terrell. “You get to know them after all these years we’ve been in business. I know some people that have been in business as long as I have.”
Mountain Top dealers deliver unique items and hidden gems from all over the south. With regular vendors offering items like collectibles, antiques, furniture, clothing, jewelry and leather goods, buyers can discover the perfect pieces for themselves.
The flea market also features a range of plants and flowers available for purchase, and fresh fruit and vegetables grown by local farmers. If shoppers find themselves craving a break from browsing or hear their stomachs grumbling, they can relax and relish a delicious meal at Mountain Top’s café.
“It’s a different way of shopping,” said Terrell. “A lot of people come to flea markets to shop because of the variety of merchandise. At our flea market, we implemented what we like. We were going to have a flea market for the family to come together, spend the day together and enjoy each other.”
Terrell’s emphasis on family coincides with Mountain Top’s mission: to create an entertaining and safe environment where families feel welcome to shop for exceptional items and appreciate one another’s company. As parents float from vendor to vendor, Terrell revealed that the market provides the opportunity to teach their children financial lessons, using Mountain Top as an educational experience where young buyers can learn to recognize value and discover bargains.
For decades, Terrell has nurtured the business she and her husband planted so many years ago. In 2020, Mountain Top remains an iconic source of amusement and delight for families nationwide, serving as treasure chest for eager shoppers and a memorable experience each Sunday year-round.
“I hope that [everyone who visits Mountain Top] has an enjoyable time,” said Terrell. “[I hope] they get what they’re looking for, [but if they don’t], if you come once I always say, come back and see me again because I always have different dealers. The dealers change up some, and maybe you’ll find what you’re looking for. I hope you have an enjoyable time and a comfortable time where you can enjoy your family.”
Mountain Top Flea Market is currently open every Sunday from 6 a.m. until 4 p.m. For more information, visit lesdeal.com or Mountain Top Flea Market on Facebook.