The Jasper Chronicles

The Journal of a Cynical Dad

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

One Man's Trash... another man's treasure. So the saying goes.

Swap meets. Flea Markets. I avoid them with a passion. Usually they're full of Professional Swap Meeters, people who scour other swap meets for things to sell themselves. Pro Swap Meeters rarely cut you a deal, and generally treat you with contempt - now that's customer service. As for the shoppers flea markets attract; Wal-Mart People. Now shopping a Wal-Mart doesn't automatically make you a Wal-Mart Person. A true WMP, well, you know who you are.

So when P suggested we hit the Cloverdale Kids Swap last Saturday, you can imagine my reaction. I have no problem buying things used, just makes sense with a rapid-growth babe in the house, but a Swap Meet? What about the PSMs? And the WMP?

"Get over it, we're going." Yes mam', I'll start the car.

Fifty minutes later we're in the suburbs. My mood is glum as we navigate the sea of minivans for a parking spot. A huge hall full of people I'd rather avoid, this is going to be a fun morning.

To my pleasant surprise this swap meet isn't all that bad. And hey, these suburban moms are kind of cute. Hey!

Seems Kids Swaps attract a different sort of crowd. More family-oriented and way less seedy, and that would make sense. There were still the usual suspects, but the majority were young parents buying or selling their stuff.

After few minutes wandering around I see that the sellers broke down into three basic groups. Rookies who've likely rented a table for the first time. Regular sellers, amatures who rent a table when they have excess kids stuff to unload. And the PSMs.

Rookies are easy to spot. They anxiously wait for you to check out their table, swell up when you approach and then look defeated when you walk away. The regulars take the tire-kickers in stride, but are friendly always willing to make a deal. The pros, they don't seem to care if you buy or not:
Me: How much for this soft book?
PSW: Four Dollars.
Me: Four Dollars? Why don't I just bend over
But if you were careful, avoided the pros and bargained a bit, there were some decent deals to be had. Two hours, a weak cup of coffee and forty dollars later, P emerges with several bags of cloths and an activity table. I think we just may come back next year.