The Cooks Story


In the early winter of 1982, Jack and Cathie Hooks visited an outdoor market in Asheville, NC. It was a Sunday morning and it was 4 degrees outside. To their surprise, the market was packed with people. Jack commented to Cathie, “If this many people will come to an outside market, think how many would come if we had an indoor market.” There, the idea for Cooks Flea Market was born!

Cooks Flea Market began in Cooks Tobacco Warehouse in 1982. Cathie and Jack persuaded Cathie’s dad, one of the owners in Cooks Tobacco Warehouse, to let them start a flea market in the tobacco off-season. The flea market started that November and operated for a number of years. The flea market opened after the last tobacco auction of the season, usually towards the end of October, and continued until the end of July. Then the flea market vendors would move out and the tobacco auction would move in.

In 1990 a “Members Warehouse” building became available, very near the original Cooks building. That became Cooks Plaza Flea Market. Cathie and Jack operated both the original Cooks Flea Market and Cooks Plaza from September 1990 until 2001. In 2001, they combined the two markets. By this time, tobacco auctions had become a relic of the past. Thankfully, Jack and Cathie were able to purchase the Cooks property, and Cooks Flea Market began operating every weekend!

The merchandise has changed over the years. Originally most vendors were selling collectibles and antiques. You can still find these items, but now many vendors offer new merchandise. You can find things like clothing, jewelry, tools, computers, home goods, automotive accessories and of course lots of fun and different foods. The building is 150,000 square feet, heated and air-conditioned for everyone’s comfort! There are over 500 booths filled with something for everyone.

Cooks Flea Market started as a family business, and to this day remains a family business. This sets it apart from many markets, ask any vendor and they will tell you that they are part of the Cooks Flea Market family. Cooks Flea Market invites all shoppers and all vendors to come be a part of their extended family in Winston-Salem, NC!