Regrets, More Than a Few: Cole’s Did It Their Way

On the City of Pearland website, the fire marshal has posted a photo presentation highlighting a few of the more than 2,800 safety violations found this past weekend at Cole’s Antique Village & Flea Market. And on the Cole’s Antique Village website, the owners have put up an MP3 recording of Elvis Presley singing “My Way,” which plays automatically for visitors.

Cole’s had more than 900 permanent vendors on its extensive campus at 1014 N. Main St., at the southwest corner of Beltway 8 and Telephone Road. But the flea market’s likely regrets are clearly not too few to mention: The fire marshal’s photos show personal padlocks on emergency access gates, mounds of stacked tires and mattresses, insufficient and improperly marked exits, bypassed circuit breakers, Gordian tangles of extension cords, propane tanks stored indoors next to generators, and a broad range of other problems.


Cole’s had been in operation for 44 years, but it’s likely to be closed for a good while.

Photos: Cole’s Antique Village and Flea Market (bottom photo); City of Pearland Fire Marshall (all others)

13 Comment

  • I hope it reopens after addressing the hazards though that’s hard to imagine. It was an extraordinary place. Another country. Countries really. “Sprawling” doesn’t even begin to do it justice.

  • You would swear you were in Mexico or India looking at that.

  • Yes. Especially some of the food vendors in the covered area. Probably as close as you could get to Mexico without actually going there. There was also an indoor area that had lots of actual shops that sold antiques and collectibles. I kinda enjoyed going there once in a while, and got some pretty good deals on stuff (and saw tons of pure junk) but not every weekend or anything like that. But now that I think about it, a big fire when the place was full would probably have led to loss of life on a scale we haven’t seen in the modern era of fire regulations.

  • I live not too far from Cole’s, and visited once or twice. It was only a matter of time before the fire marshal shut it down, really. The only place I’ve ever been to where you can buy lawn mower parts, used cassette tapes of old tejano music, or 10 pairs of socks for a dollar, view Cole’s dusty collection of antique motorcycles, and pick up a pit-bull puppy off the back of a truck on your way out. The motorcycle collection is seriously impressive, it will be interesting to see what happens to it if Cole’s is forced to close for good.

  • Is this surprising? It is called a “flea” market.
    I haven’t been there in years, but it was bad back then, too.

  • On, both in the news story and the local Pearland blog, there have been lots of comments to the effect that this was a blight upon the face of the earth and that Pearland would be better off if it was scraped to bare ground. I am intrigued by all the vitriol. I thought it was interesting, local color, one of those “what makes the Houston area special” kind of places. I didn’t go that often but always enjoyed it when I went (and got a spectacular deal on a chop saw there.) I didn’t even think the traffic was all that bad.

  • But “local color” can happen without third world safety standards.

    Trader’s Village in Cypress is a good example of a modern flea market.

    If the Trader’s Village scale is to big, it’s not uncommon for a flea market to exist in an old shopping center.

    The commenters are right that this place was a blight to the community.

  • I hear you on the local color, but those living in gated communities only see beige. :)

  • Jessica wrote, “It was only a matter of time before the fire marshal shut it down, really.” The place has been around for decades. Why now? Why weren’t these problems cited years ago? Is the problem that the new big time developers in Pearland forced the issue?

  • Raj,

    It’s not just the developers and Pearland. The city of Houston and Mayor White are in on this too. A lot of developers (commercial and residential) are targeting the land along the Beltway. This particular business happens to be within Pearland’s city limits. City of Houston would have shut it down because of the proximity. City of Houston is spending a lot money on the roads near the Beltway to make the land more attractive to developers and to accommodate currently planned developments. Monroe Road north of the Beltway is a recent example of this. This road will be rebuilt into a boulevard soon because of the new Target shopping center going in. The Mayor also pushed for a similar still project out on Mercury Road next to the new US 90 Freeway.

    Also the argument that they haven’t shut it down for a long time so they shouldn’t now is not a strong one to stand on.

  • kjb434, thanks for the info and analysis. I’m not saying that fire hazards should be ignored, but we should be honest, curious, and concerned about the timing. Why the draconian approach that shut down a thriving market?

    So much money has gone into the Pearland Waterlights district, which seeks to create the impression of a historical, community-oriented, walking-friendly center. But Pearland is shutting down a place that already does all those things, only for mostly low-income people.

  • Our non-third-world building codes have raised the financial stakes too high for most people to have an entrepreneurial site in their own employment that is located anywhere *outside* of a flea market, folks.

  • That simply isn’t true. Lots of businesses of entrepreneurs are run out of their homes or apartments. As long as a deed restriction or HOA rule doesn’t prevent it, you can run a business from home. Even if the rule does prevent it, you can still run a business that doesn’t need high traffic.

    There are also several farmers markets throughout the region that also allow the selling of non-farm based goods.