What Is a Swap Meet?

Home & Family, Living Green
on March 28, 2012

Strictly defined, a swap meet is an informal gathering for the barter or sale of used articles or handicrafts. Swap meets have now become synonymous with flea markets, which are open-air markets where cheap and second-hand goods are sold. For clarification purposes, a swap meet is a gathering where individuals barter goods with each other or where others come to purchase goods at the gathering with actual money.

What makes a good swap meet? The Green Hands USA Event Guide gives qualifications for staging a good swap meet:

  • A specific date and time — This sounds obvious, but is sometimes overlooked.
  • A specific place — Swap meets are often held at community centers, parks, playgrounds or gymnasiums. Make sure you get permission to use the facility hosting the swap meet, or you may have to barter your way out of jail.
  • Actual items — Each participant in the swap meet should bring items to sell. You can also bring in vendors, but then it starts to look like a flea market, which is fine, if that’s what you want.

What makes a good traditional swap meet? A traditional swap meet involves strictly bartering. The same principles that make a good swap meet apply.

  • Announce a date, time and place where you and your friends, those in the community or those in your circle of influence can gather.
  • All participants should bring items they no longer need or want. It’s a great excuse for cleaning out garages, basements and attics.
  • All items are displayed and made accessible to swap meet participants.
  • Participants take whatever they want.
  • Leftover items are donated to a second-hand store or taken to the dump.

What items are usually found at a swap meet? If you can imagine it, it can be found at a swap meet. Think yard sale, but instead of one person selling things, it’s a bunch of people selling or exchanging things in the same place.

Where can you find swap meets? A simple Internet search with the words “swap meet” and the location you wish to find a swap meet will produce several options. Chances are, however, that these are actually flea markets disguised as swap meets. Newspaper classified ads are an option, as are community bulletin boards. Websites such as craigslist can also steer you in the right direction.