Nancy Kim   

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La Pulga de Alamo has been a popular family destination for decades. Located in Alamo, this vibrant flea market has become more than a place to find a good bargain. It’s also a space for people to earn a living, find entertainment, promote their business, enjoy a spiro papa and listen to music.

Owner Nancy Kim and her husband, Taek Kim, had a clear vision when they bought the pulga in 1996. The two had experience. They were also the owners of the Mercedes flea market, but it became undeniable that Alamo would surpass expectations quickly.

“We were so focused on making that business so big that we did everything in our power to start seeing immediate changes,” Nancy said. “The first thing we did was bring the entire team of employees together, who at the time were less than 20, and we explained this growth project.”

Nancy, whose experience started just after finishing high school and began working in the import business, was a fast learner, and she had laid out short-term and long-term goals for La Pulga de Alamo.

Full of ambition and a desire to pursue professional careers, Nancy and Taek expected this to be temporary and provide them and their family with more significant opportunities. Nancy had dreams of becoming an attorney and Taek, a doctor. However, life had its plans and their journey took an unexpected turn. As the flea market grew, so did their family. Their dedication and hard work would become Nancy’s true calling, granting her and her family a unique platform to shape lives and foster a sense of community.

“I have always had an adventurous spirit, without fear and without limits when it comes to business,” Nancy said. “My adrenaline is so high, and it often helps me make risky decisions. To obtain success and good results, you need to not be afraid and be firm and constant in your decisions.”

Her past always seemed to return and remind her of where she came from. When she first purchased the flea market, it reminded her that destiny doesn’t stop and arrives at the right time. It took her back to her childhood when the flea market played a significant part in her life.

“I needed money to go on a study trip with the school, and I didn’t have it,” Nancy said that she looked for ways to generate money quickly but at age 16, who would hire her to only work on Saturdays and Sundays.

“The pulga! I cleaned out my closet, taking my clothes and shoes and went off to sell. Bingo! It went very well for me and I enjoyed it a lot. I liked the environment, the people and even more, I liked earning money for myself.”

At a very young age, Nancy had set her mind. She wanted to become her own boss.

Nancy believes there are no coincidences, only a beautifully intertwined web of life’s synchronicities. Reflecting on her business journey, she firmly believed that every decision, challenge, and triumph she encountered led to where she and La Pulga de Alamo are today.

“I saw all the work that was coming with the new purchase; it was a huge challenge. I was excited to focus and visualize what I proposed to do.” She wanted a nice flea market, a business where everyone could benefit and grow with her and her family. When Nancy and Taek purchased the flea market, it was only ¼ of the land that it is today, and the structures around it were old. The Pulga de Alamo spans 60 acres with plenty of space for vendors, food, and entertainment.

“We saw a lot of potential to grow in many aspects. We would have liked to have a magic wand at the moment to transform all of our ideas quickly, but it took time, money, and a lot of work.”

Running a flea market is no small feat. There is a symphony of logistics, community engagement, and lots of planning. Vendors set up at very early hours; they arrange their treasures. Shoppers go up and down the booths, discovering hidden gems and forming connections. La Pulga de Alamo has become more than just a shopping destination. Nancy created an experience for the vendor and the shopper alike.

“We have many clients and some employees who have been with us for more than 30 years. They are faithful to the pulga,” Nancy said. “Children come with their parents to sell and some say it becomes addictive; once you enter, you don’t stop visiting.

The pulga generates more than 500 permanent jobs annually between vendors and employees. According to Nancy, during the weekend, people can expect to find many businesses promoting themselves there, including law offices, accountants, insurance, radio stations, social media influencers, and even the Texas A&M health department.

“The pulga gives us the satisfaction and pride in that our business helps many families in so many ways. It is a source of work and income. For others, it is the motivation to take that first step to start their own small business and be future entrepreneurs outside of the Alamo pulga.”

Over the years, the pulga and Nancy’s family have undergone many growth changes. Her four children are now adults. Her daughter Keemberly is a dermatologic surgeon. Her other daughter, Stephanie, is a business lawyer. The other two children, Taek, is a commercial financial adviser, and Kevin, a land developer.

“You realize nothing in life is a coincidence. Two of the professions that Taek and I expected to be were fulfilled with our daughters,” Nancy said.

“My business is still growing. We will continue to innovate, change, and improve where we can. But we have managed to see our plans fulfilled.”

 

Selene Guerrero