It was in the Spring of 1984 and I was about to board a plane at the Asheville, NC airport to fly back to Florida where I was going purchase a tract of land to build a flea market. I had built one on my family’s old farm in Waldo, FL a few years earlier and was now ready to build another.
Just prior to boarding, I bought a local newspaper to read on the plane ride.
As the plane was landing in Charlotte where I would catch the next ‘leg’ of the flight, I noticed an advertisement about a real estate auction on a tract of land near Asheville that I had seen a few years earlier. I remembered that the location and size of the property would make it an excellent place to build a flea market! And now, here it was, going to be sold at auction!! The glitch was: the auction was going to take place the next morning (Saturday) at 10am and here it was Friday afternoon right at 5 o’clock! To qualify to bid at the auction, I needed an approved binder deposit check.
I knew I had to act quickly, so I de-planed and phoned the auctioneer to see if they would approve my personal check for the binder. I gave them my banker’s contact info so they could confirm with the bank that my check would be honored - which they did - and the auctioneer said I would be permitted to bid at the auction on Saturday.
Acting quickly, I changed my flight arrangements, and headed right back to Asheville!
Now, the next challenge for me was: how much should I pay for the property? Even though I was a real estate broker and auctioneer in Florida, I hadn’t a clue as to the value of this North Carolina property. I knew I had to act swiftly and gather as much property value information as possible! So, I began riding up and down the highway near the location and called real estate agents who had listings in the area on similar properties as well as looked at real estate publications for similar properties. Indeed, it was very helpful and I went to the auction the next morning with some knowledge, some nervousness and a lot of anticipation. I knew I wanted to buy this property, but, just didn’t want to pay more than it was worth!
Once the auction began, it was evident that there was only one other person there who was a serious bidder, and he continued to bid against me as the auction progressed. But, I was determined to buy it, and, ultimately I prevailed as the highest bidder! The years have shown the value of this decision. And it never would have happened in I had not acted quickly.
Plans are important. If you don’t have a plan, you won’t know where you are going. But, I have found that it is vitally important to be open to altering your plans as necessary. I knew that I wanted to create another flea market (my dream). And my original plans were to develop another one in Florida. Perhaps another market in Florida would have done well. But the one I built at Fletcher, North Carolina has proven itself through the years to be of great value to both buyers and sellers which makes me very happy. The market’s name is “Smiley’s”, but it has been nicknamed “The Mecca”, because people come from far and wide to buy and sell here. If you’re ever in the North Carolina mountains on a Saturday or Sunday, you should stop by Smiley’s for visit; it’s absolutely fantastic!! You’ll find hundreds and hundreds of sellers, thousands upon thousands of buyers and million upon millions of items! There are some 12 restaurants/food bars, a full size carousel, a farmers market, over 200,000 sq. feet of shops under roof in addition to an outdoor yard sale area that has more than 700 spaces. And, if you like Mexican food, you’ll find some of the best Mexican restaurants this side of Tijuana.
But I digress…
After I acted and bought the property, I went through the dream phase again. What do I want this market to look like? Then I put together an extensive plan to bring my dream into reality.
And, as I acted on my dream, there were moments that I had to alter my building plans as well as how to ‘market’ the market. Plans are important; but, may I say, I have found that it is vitally important to be open to altering them as necessary. The truth is, if we stay aware, we will have more information every day that we didn’t have the day before; not to mention much more information than we had when we first invoked on the project. I find that you have to be adaptable and focused all at once. That sounds like a contradiction, but if you have your ultimate desired result imbedded in your mind and then, as the plan evolves, you come up with a better idea that is going to better help you accomplish your dream, then by all means, act and change the plan!
For sure, we need to plan. But, we can plan, plan and plan ourselves and our ideas to death! It is only through action that gets us to our destination. I’ll leave you today with a quote by Harry Truman. “Imperfect action beats perfect inaction every time.”