Motivations for visiting flea and craft markets in rural areas of Texas
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Shopping, which is traditionally viewed as an urban tourism attraction, can be a central attraction for visiting rural areas. There is a significant growth of small caliber local events that promote shopping as their primary attraction in Texas. Such events are primarily commercial venues with the main attraction of shopping for antiques, crafts, and collectibles in the rural environment. Rural craft and flea markets are a popular form of attracting visitors to rural communities. The present research examines the role of craft and flea markets for the development of rural tourism, the place of this event among other special events, and the benefits of developing this type of event for local communities. It is concluded that rural flea and craft markets is a new product in rural tourism development. A definition of rural flea and craft markets is provided. The study also examines preferences and motivations of visitors to rural flea and craft markets. To analyze who are visitors of such markets, their motivations and preferences at events have become critical to developing sustainable tourism in rural areas of Texas. Old Mill Trade Days (OMTD) located in Post, Texas was used as a site study. A self-report questionnaire was administered to (N = 389) to OMTD visitors in summer 2003. The results of this study indicate that more than half of the visitors were over forty years of age, female, white, from Texas, and with annual household income of over $50,000. Crafts, antiques, art, and garage sales items were found to be the most popular items among visitors of OMTD. There were not found many significant differences in visitors’ preferences based on visitors’ gender and income. More significant differences were found in visitors’ motivations with regard their age, gender, frequency of visit, and distance traveled to the event. This research is one of the first attempts to examine rural flea and craft markets in the tourism context. Developing of the research instrument which is tailored specifically to this type of event is recommended in future research. The study was limited to visitors of Old Mill Trade Days who attend the event in summer 2003. The findings are generalizable to Old Mill Trade Days.