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As historic trade market shuts down, the owner reflects on 'everything I built'

Darrell Lewis, a long-time history teacher, took an interest when he and his family purchased the 30-acre property in 1995.

MCKINNEY, Texas — If you're traveling down Highway 380 in McKinney you just might pass it if you're not paying attention. 

The location just west of Central Expressway has a storied past that many people don't know or won't appreciate. Darrell Lewis, a long-time history teacher, took an interest when he and his family purchased the 30-acre property in 1995.

"The market is so historic. It goes back to the 1880s," Lewis said.

Lewis is talking about the Third Monday Trade Days in McKinney. It was land once claimed by the Kiowa Indians and a former base and training ground for the Mexican-American war. It is one of the last and oldest trade markets in all North Texas, but not for much longer.

"What I see is everything I built. There was nothing here when we bought it," Lewis said.

Third Monday Trade Days brought together millions of traders, collectors, and buyers over its 140 year history. It's a tradition that started in the 19th century when judges traveled to the county seat to hold trials. 

Community residents came to town to sell produce, trade merchandise, and participate as jurors on the day of the trials, which was usually a Monday. 

These markets were normally held at the county square and in Collin County it was known as the Jockey Lot in downtown McKinney. Third Monday Trade Days would move from that location in the 1960s to where it is now off Highway 380.

It's called Third Monday Trade Days, but there is no market on Monday. It means the market is open the weekend before the third Monday of the month. Other markets, like in Canton, are set for earlier in the month.

At the height of the Third Monday Trade Days there were nearly 1,000 vendors. Now there are between 300 and 350 vendors who show up monthly.

"The only thing permanent in the world is change," said Lewis, who has made the decision at 77 years old to close up the the market.

Lewis told WFAA that there were several factors that went into his decision. But mainly, it wasn't feasible from a costs standpoint to keep operating off only three days of income a month and have the burden of an increasing tax bill. 

He also mentions that the buying habits of the public have changed drastically over the last twenty years; the younger generation simply isn't interested in collecting and many antiques can now be found online.

So after nearly a century and a half, the 30 acres the market sits on will be the last item on the market.

"You don't regret the inevitable. You're going to die and you just keep going as far as you can," he said.

Lewis is in talks with a group who wants to buy the land but not before vendors show up one last time. Dec. 17-19 will be the last trade days in McKinney, and Lewis expects a good turnout.

"They wanna come back and say 'hi.' They wanna be here and they wanna come back and remember what it was like," he said.

It is unclear what the land will be used for, but Darrell assumed for mixed housing or retail.

Lewis said the December trade days will be a nostalgic moment but he is ready to "move on." 

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