A swap meet is an informal gathering for the barter or sale of used goods or handicrafts. It is a perfect way to get rid of unwanted items and replace them with something you are going to use or sell. New things that are most often for sale at almost every other spot nowadays are automated gadgets, T-shirts, designer knock-offs, shoes, factory a few moments, and dehydrated nuts & berry.
So is there a place for the average person or family that is looking to sell some unwanted items? The answer is yes. While it does seem to me that (at least here in Southern California) the used independent seller population has decreased in Flea Markets over the years and the dealer sections have expanded, I feel that the non-professional sellers are the main reason that many people go to swap meets. Don’t get me wrong, there are good deals on new and used items to be found by swap meet dealers.
All seasoned swap meet goers (and swap meet dealers) head directly to the used section first, where average (non swap meet professional) people come to unload unwanted items. This is where the main action is when the swap meet first opens (get there early). There is usually no reason to rush to the dealer or new item sections of the swap meet because generally they have somewhat fixed prices and plenty of stock on hand. The used section of the swap meet is the real lifeblood of the swap meet that brings in new items each week from homes and communities.
Swap-Meet Tips for Buyers
1. Get to swap meet early. This is especially true if you are seeking a particular item or items (maybe you just moved into an apartment and want to furnish it quickly and cheaply).
2. Bring cash and plenty of small bills. At the start of the flea market it’s a real frenzy and having cash in hand (the amount you want to pay will be to your advantage). An example would be holding an item up (let’s say a power drill marked $10.00) at a space or stall and offering the seller $7.00, with your hand out with a $5 and 2 $1 bills- my guess is that the seller will take it.
3. Bring a friend. Four eyes are better than two. If you are seeking something in particular then split up (go down different isles or go different directions within the seller’s area and call each other when you find something interesting).
4. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. You will probably have more success negotiating with a private seller than a dealer. Ask how much the item is and then do your own appraisal, if you think it is worth less, then offer less and see where it goes. Dealers and sellers of new items will usually give you a discount only when you are buying multiple items (you will see a lot of signs for 3 for $5.00 etc.).
5. Look for late (end of the day) deals. Around 1:00 pm the flea market meet will really die down and some sellers will start packing up their unsold stuff. This is a prime time to get deals on items that did not sell during the day. Also, a lot of these sellers will head directly to a Salvation Army or Goodwill donation center or another organization’s donation center to donate their items that didn’t sell that day (rather than hauling it all the way home). This is your chance to get items dirt cheap.