HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - An Horry County businessman is thankful to be on his feet after being forced out of the Carolina Forest Flea Market when it closed down last year and became a storage facility. Now he's getting used to having his own store front to make ends meet.
Mike Stewart worked at the Carolina Forest Flea Market for eight years. His business, "Step Back Into Time" went from one booth to 11. But when his business was forced to move out in January, He moved it to the Socastee Plaza.
As a vendor, Mike Stewart was in charge of managing and maintaining Step Back Into Time, where he collects everything from sports memorabilia to vinyl, movies, music, retro toys and comic books.
He says he had a large clientele when he was at the flea market.
Locals would come to buy, sell or trade collectibles, and even tourists from as far away as Canada would make it a point to stop by every year.
Now that he's had to move locations, he says business is slow because people have a hard time finding him.
So now he's passing out flyers and using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and email for the first time to bring in customers.
He's also staying open later on the weekends, and playing music out front to try and attract people from the nearby restaurants and bars in the same plaza.
"My customers are following me and my tourists are finding me; in fact one of the best ways to get a hold of us is hashtag Step Back Into Time LLC, that takes you straight to our website," Stewart said.
Mike hadn't opened a store front in 25 years. He said it was his only option because he couldn't compete with buying and selling online.
He said paying rent at Carolina Forest Flea Market doesn't compare to the money he has to put out now, which is why he joined together with another businesswoman who worked at the flea market.
Her name is Windy Hein, and along with his memorabilia, she's selling handmade bath scrubs, oils and soaps.
He says it's not an easy process, but with him knowing the business side and her knowing how to market through social media, they're keeping their businesses open by working together.
"It's a slow process, but basically right now we have three objectives: number one, getting the word out there, number two, getting you into the store and number three, having you as a customers," Stewart said. "Now the biggest problem we had in the first couple of months - a lot of people had the misconception that we were a second-hand store, well I told Windy we're going to nip this in the bud, so we posted on Facebook we are not a second-hand store, we are a retail store," Stewart said.
Step Back Into Time is now located in the Socastee Plaza.
It opens at 10 a.m. Tuesday through Sunday.