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Event Coverage Swap Meet Setup Do's and Don'ts

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Fedcospeed, Jun 25, 2017.

  1. Fedcospeed
    Joined: Aug 17, 2008
    Posts: 1,968


    Just did another swap meet,first time setting up in new meet location. When I set up its almost always a different way and layout. Different stuff and amount too. The trick is to set items in a manner that will get noticed and looked at along with room to maneuver.
    What Ive found out by sitting there and watching people is that almost everyones eyes are glued to the tables along the front row of my spot and they dont look under the tables or behind where the bigger parts and stuff are located. It seems they miss everything except for whats right in front of their nose.
    I ve had parts that should have sold in a blink but never get noticed?????
    When I go to a swap to buy,my eyes are everywhere.You never know whats out there and Id like to see as much as possible.Dig in boxes quickly and then move on.In places like Hershey,you have to be quick and make up your mind to buy or not and move on.This weekends swap meet it seemed like everyone was there just for something to do. If I had a buck for every time someone picked up my 53 Olds hood ornament, I wouldnt have to sell it.Seems you have to have salesmen directing people to the back of the lot these days. Id like to hear your stories please,tricks,does and donts Thanks Fedco
    els, Hombre, dana barlow and 2 others like this.
  2. choptop4
    Joined: Feb 3, 2007
    Posts: 647


    I don't do swap meets anymore. But when I did ,I put the tables in the back with all the good stuff on them. It would pull them in. And I would sit back behind the tables. Worked great.
  3. Flathead Dave
    Joined: Mar 21, 2014
    Posts: 1,764

    Flathead Dave
    from So. Cal.

    People look for different things. Maybe they are looking at your stuff and just don't want it. Everything that we put out on our tables is not wanted by everyone. I know when I'm not selling, I am looking for something specific and don't give a rats ass what someone else has until I find what I want.

    After I have found what I need, then I look at other stuff. If there is something to catch my eye in the back, then I'll look at it. I will not look at junk under a table.

    I will look to see what is on the ground and how it is placed on the ground. If the items on the ground are in the dirt, in the grass or on the black top but not on a tarp, I will not give the seller the time of day. This only proves that they don't care about their junk while they tell you to your face that their junk is in good condition.

    Don't get me started on the idiots who just dump their shit in a pile and expect everyone to sort through it.

    I also look for the interested seller when I'm buying. I like sellers who are into their junk and are knowledgeable of their junk. If the seller is too far away in his mind and I can't get his attention if he isn't busy, then I walk on. I hate sellers who leave their 10 year old kid to sell their junk while they are walking around. I'll wait if the kid say's that the seller will be right back. I don't want to talk to a kid who looks sloppy and with food all over it's face while keeping a bugger on it's finger.

    Signs....I do look at someone's junk who has price signs and parts lists. I always have a parts list, ie; trans tear down parts and list all of the available parts that I have for the trans. And I have prices by every item that I have for sale on my tables. Talking with other sellers, they don't put prices out on purpose to get the conversation going. I guess if it works for them....

    I hate asking for the price of an item but sometimes I have to. I HATE IT!

    When I sell, I place what I consider to be good stuff on the front and rear tables and make it so the looker has to come around to me to even get out. All of my incidentals are placed in the middle and on the side tables and sometimes on the ground on a clean tarp. I usually end up selling the incidentals before the good stuff is sold. Then again, my good junk is only good junk to me and not everyone else.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2017
  4. 29moonshine
    Joined: Dec 30, 2006
    Posts: 1,154


    keep every thing clean [nobody wants to look at things that are dirty or greasie] i put every thing on a table people will buy things that they do not have to bend over or kneel to look at . keep all of the same type parts together [truck parts on one table ] car parts on another] and not all piled up so you can see what is there.
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    Joined: Apr 28, 2009
    Posts: 427


    Spent endless hours talking to Dick Spadaro about this. He loved to study the swap meet crowd. My minor in college was marketing so we had some lengthy discussions. The best advise I can tell you is put all your 32-34 Ford stuff on a greasy tarp under the back table, I'll be over to tell you the rest of my secrets to selling tout de suite :rolleyes:
    els, old crank, WTF really and 2 others like this.
  6. cb186
    Joined: Jul 5, 2013
    Posts: 250


    We set up everything on tables. Rarely is anything on the ground. 18" x 32" x 4" wooden boxes hold all the small stuff so its quick to set up and tear down. Tables are in a long U shape, hubcaps farthest away in back. Everyone sees them, but only people that are really interested walk around to them, but less people to knock them off.
    We have 8 plastic folding tables and get everything in one long box/topper with a shelf in it. Takes 15-20 minutes to set up or load up.
    els and loudbang like this.
  7. No price tags...... Everything we sell is negotiable..
  8. abe lugo
    Joined: Nov 8, 2002
    Posts: 1,975

    abe lugo

    If you know what you need to get on a part, use some blue tape and sharpie on it.
    At least you have a starting point.
    Its also a good way to get gakers off you when you show up late to a swap and get deals in the mix up as you unload and forget what you want on things.

    Put your stuff on a blue tarp.
    take some shade or umbrella, sunscreen

    If someone needs to beat you down on a part, just say it not for sale anymore, or the nice way to say "Sorry I realized I need that part", as you take it and dump it back into the bin.
    If you see the same buyer coimg around asking, don't negotiate if you already have.

    take water.

    Take note of what sold and didn't, don't bring back the stuff no one asked about. put that on craigslist or a forum that matches.

    Also note that in some cases you win and some cases you lose on something that didn't work out for you. That is why it is sitting with you at the swapmeet.
    els and loudbang like this.
  9. No price tags - another hater of this kind of thinking - we try and get prices on everything before we get moving around looking - usually with 3 or more guys together allows breaks for one buddy to go out looking at stuff and doesn't have the one that got left behind on duty calling you every 5 minutes - they know you take a little cut or the stuff you won't...been doing theme now for over 40 yrs....mostly a get together for us guys and we sell stuff too.....there are lookers and there are buyers....buyers will find the stuff no matter how shiny it is or where you put it.....have fun or like I've been told a bunch - just put it on Evil bay....
  10. Yep..... It's not shopping on Amazon..... Typically, we are the only one at that particular Swap Meet that has that particular item..
    els, loudbang and Roadster pu 1929 like this.
  11. TagMan
    Joined: Dec 12, 2002
    Posts: 5,629


    After buying & selling at swap meets for 40 some years, I've learned to look under the table first, then at the table. I once bought a dirty Crew Levick gas globe that was underneath a table at Hershey, on the last day, for $75. Took it home, cleaned it up and put it on EBay. It sold for just over $1100 !

    I also won't even consider buying anything that isn't priced. It's up to the seller to set a price, I can't be both buyer & seller.
    teefan, els, unclescooby and 7 others like this.
  12. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 19,868

    Jalopy Joker

    n0 price tags, just walk on by because they are looking for top dollar - if you have to ask you can not afford it - just throw all of your money on the ground and let seller take as much as they want
    els, 31hotrodguy, Jugornot and 8 others like this.
  13. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 1,801


    Been mentioned before as well.

    But, I guess I'm a different breed, if I see something I might want, I've no issue asking..."What's your price on that?"....takes like 2 seconds, if the seller is in the range, I talk...if he's shooting from the moon, I walk.

    What I can say, is many that don't put a price on their stuff, have no idea what it's worth, and may not even know what it goes to...they just now it fits with the SM theme, old....gotta be worth something...

    So you folks that just "pass by" unpriced items, ever wonder what type of deal you may have missed?

    I learned this at least 25 years ago at a GG in Pleasanton meet, a guy had a '35/36 ford PU taken apart, in the back of his long bed PU price, just the metal there....I kept walking...came back around when I was leaving, seems he sold the whole lot (no frame, all sheetmetal) for 250 bucks...ya, cab, hood, fenders, bed pieces, gate, grill...fluck...all I had to do was ask.

    So as I walked out of the SM area, I spied a 3/4 in IR Impact wrench, was there when I walked in, I asked "How much"..."Hmmn", the guy says...a 1/2 inch IR oughta be worth 25 bucks"...took it...he didn't know what he had...damn that IR has changed a lot of Truck wheel over the years, but sure wish I'd have asked on that PU.
    els and BigDogSS like this.
  14. I price all my stuff at home before I go to the swap meet. This gives me time to think about what it's worth instead of "shooting from the hip". I can always negotiate down a little. I try to get a spot near the bathrooms and I'm not shy about asking the guy next to me to watch my shit while I hit the can. I watch his stuff also when he needs me to.
    I put the stuff I want to sell the most on the tables with clear pricing. As it sells, I take stuff out from under the tables or out of boxes and put it on the tables. Sometimes I'll make up a big sign and use magnets to attach it to the side of my car advertising something I didn't bring to the swap like a car or engine...the big stuff.
    I always take food and water and an extra lawn chair for buddy's who stop by and need a rest.
    Oh, and I always bring plenty of 10's, 5's and I use to bring 1's but I learned to sell nothing under 5 bucks.
    Don't forget a hat with a big brim and sun block. I forgot it last weekend and actually blistered up on my arms!
    els, 31hotrodguy, loudbang and 5 others like this.
  15. DDDenny
    Joined: Feb 6, 2015
    Posts: 9,437

    from oregon

    Best to have parts priced ahead of time and not being pressured to come up with a price while you're still setting up your booth. Remember sellers are scouting early for deals to take back to their booth and jack the price up.
    Be honest with yourself as to what you really don't want to take back home and price it accordingly. Also decide ahead of time what the absolute minimum you will take for parts that you know are "desireable" or you will kick yourself for letting them go so cheap.
  16. jetnow1
    Joined: Jan 30, 2008
    Posts: 1,105

    from CT
    1. A-D Truckers

    As a shopper my biggest gripe is the seller who pays no attention to the buyers- too buzy bsing
    with his buddy, cooking breakfast or drinking beer. I cannot tell you how many times I have walked away from something because I could not get the guys attention.
    els, clem, Cliff Ramsdell and 13 others like this.
  17. No Price tag... If someone is interested in what I am selling.... a conversation begins.

    It weeds out the "tire kickers" and the "I have six of those at home" guys.
    els, BLACKNRED and pecker head like this.
  18. Hot Rods Ta Hell
    Joined: Apr 20, 2008
    Posts: 3,514

    Hot Rods Ta Hell

    ^^^ Yeah, already drunk at 8:00AM. You can tell real quick which guys are serious sellers and which ones are there to camp out and get faced. It's a weekend away from home to hang out and drink. If they sell a couple of items, it's a bonus.

    If you sell and plan to spend some/most of your time walking around shopping and BSing with friends, at least price your parts so the person (Wife, neighbor) watching your stall can actually sell something to a prospective buyer while you're away. Leave your cell # with them.
    It never fails; I arrive early and find a part I really want. The seller is out shopping for himself and doesn't ever seem to have a cell phone. I get the "stop back by later when he's here" answer. Sure, I'll make my way back by later and after a 1/2 mile of extra walking arrive to find out he's returned and already sold the part.
    els, Squablow, WiredSpider and 2 others like this.
  19. Fedcospeed
    Joined: Aug 17, 2008
    Posts: 1,968


    Wow, tons of good advise! I am gonna rethink my whole set up and a bunch of other things.It appears that presentation is everything.Some common courtesy is valuable too. IE always have a price tag on stuff and stop screwing around.I want someone to buy it right then and there and not make them have to come back for some reason like you were too lazy to price or clean it up.
    I rarely leave my space.Unless my bladder is gonna blow,Iam always there.May step over to a neighbors space but always watching my loot.
    Pricing: I think what i would like to get and then add a cushion.Seems alot of people also dont know the game of negotiation.I am always open to offers.The cushion has a way of working in my favor.Price it right .Some items I am more intersted in the fact that I made so many times more than i paid then what it may really be worth. Makes me feel like I am staying in the "black" or green side of this game.

    This last swap I was intending to clean parts as the weekend went along and give me something to do. It rained Friday so that idier went south.I will make an effort to do this before Hershey.

    Also, how many of you guys have people digging through your stuff it seems even before the truck has come to a stop in my space. PLEASE wait till I at least have it unpacked. Friday the wind was bad and I was helping a couple guys hold down their awning and get it bungied down. Same guy kept coming back bugging me to show him any metal signs,they were not unpacked yet. I had to tell him to give us a break and get lost.Price went up 300% for him if he was to come back later. I hate the flashlight people too.
  20. indyjps
    Joined: Feb 21, 2007
    Posts: 3,415


    As a buyer I go walk thru the booth where its a big pile, and not layed on tarps. If they dont care enough to present it well, I see an opportunity for a good price.

    If its not priced and the person cant give me a price, I just leave. "How much are you asking" "well what will you offer"
    I will do that once then I walk out - and keep walking. Dont have the patience for circular 20 question BS.
    els and razoo lew like this.
  21. (This will be a sprawling mess of a post). Blows my mind the number of people who are saying not to put prices on your goods. Sure, it's a swap meet. Every price is (should be) negotiable. A price tag, or not, doesn't change that.
    I'm sure there's stuff that hasn't sold because I put a price tag on it, somebody saw that price and kept on walking. But I've also sold lots of stuff for the amount on the price tag, with no haggle or negotiation, for much more than my bottom dollar.
    Price tags help keep me straight when things get busy, and I have four or five people looking at, or asking about parts at the same time. That way, I don't get distracted and accept a low ball offer because I didn't recall what I wanted for that item.
    As a buyer, I love having items priced out. If the seller is talking to someone else or is away, I can know what his initial ask is without interrupting. Gives me time to think of a fair opening offer, or if it's a deal I should stand around for.
    Two examples: I stood around for 25 minutes holding a complete 40 Ford steering column (pitman arm up to the steering wheel) because the guy had a $30 price tag on it.
    I walked passed a set of deuce frame rails probably half a dozen times at a different swap. I kept looping around waiting for the owner to show up. I went passed the final time and saw someone else carrying them away. They sold for $100. If a price tag had been on them. I would have planted my feet and waited for him to show up. I kept looping instead because I wanted to see other stuff, there was no price, and I figured they'd be priced much higher than I wanted to spend on parts I didn't need.

    Signs, I love them, and use them. Not for every swap, but the big three that I attend, I always have signs. I'll go to the dollar store and get a few bright coloured poster boards. I'll get the girlfriend to clearly write out what I have for sale. Not prices, but just the parts. When I get to the swap, I mount them as high up as possible. I've made sales because guys have been at my space simply because it was easy to see and meet up with their friends.
    I also use the signs to list things I'm looking for. I've had guys stop by to say, "I have one at home I'd sell" and give me a phone number.

    Whenever possible, I set up in a horseshoe shape. Gets people in and looking and surrounded by parts. If I have to set up in an aisle (straight line), I put unique, rare, or 'high-excitement' parts at either end of my tables. That gets people to stop and and look. Random stuff in the middle of the table. Big parts under the table or behind the table stacked on boxes to be visible. I'm also talking to everyone who passes. I try to strike up conversations for three reasons: 1. To be friendly. 2. To get people to stay at my booth longer. 3. To slow down the people walking passed behind them. I've found that the bigger the crowd at your table, the more people will stop to see what everyone else is looking at.

    Nothing bugs me more than the guy sitting in a chair behind his table, with a scowl on his face and not talking to anyone. If vending at a swap meet is a chore, than don't bother coming. Or price your junk cheap to get it gone quick.

    And as others have said, if someone keeps repeatedly coming back and low balling you, don't be afraid to put it back in the truck and refuse to sell. I have a guy who does that every swap with magazines. He lowballs me repeatedly, and then acts shocked and mad when I load them back into the truck.
    Last swap, I had two boxes of 'throw away' magazines. Just random magazines that I didn't care about and the hospital wouldn't take. I had each box listed for $10 (over 100 mags in each) or 10 for $5. I made $40 selling magazines out of both boxes. My regular lowballer came by a bunch of times offering me $1 for each box. At the end of the day, he said I should give him the left overs for free, because I'd already made my money. So in front of him, I took both boxes to the garbage can across from my booth, and dumped the magazines into the can. While I finished packing up, he was still digging them out of the garbage can and cleaning mustard, ketchup and french fries off the ones he wanted.
    els, Big A, 40 & 61 Fords and 4 others like this.
  22. ClarkH
    Joined: Jul 21, 2010
    Posts: 619


    We step back and think about our display from the buyer’s perspective. Everyone will walk by and scan the front, but only a small percentage will walk into the booth and look around. Here’s what we do to maximize that percentage:

    Put the best stuff out front, neatly arranged. Don’t put dirty broken stuff there, even if it’s super-rare and desirable—the guy who really needs that rare piece will find it no matter where you put it, but 99% of passersby who see it out front will conclude you have broken junk and keep walking.

    Price everything. When buyers see that everything out front is priced, they know they can walk in and assess our entire inventory without having to engage with us. Many people are in a hurry or shy or simply in their own heads and don't’ want to talk unless they have to.

    Only big, recognizable stuff should go under tables—equipment, tool boxes, etc. Small parts down there are “lost.”

    Leaving stuff in boxes is a joke, and it's on you. You’re projecting that you don’t think enough of the stuff to display it. If you do this, you can’t gripe when you get lowballed: The person who takes the time to root through boxes assumes you think it’s junk, and expects to get it dirt cheap. Even if it’s priced, they figure the tag is from ages ago and now you’re sick of hauling it to meets and ready to deal—which is true, I’ll bet, but why tip your hand?

    Put a big piece of eye candy at the back to draw people, in. For example, we always try to have a few pieces of nice Model A sheet metal. That stuff is geezer-magnetic. We surround it with smaller ‘20s-‘30s parts and other stuff that isn’t quite clean enough for the front.

    Having a few display cases is good. They project quality, and people will hone in on them. But only if everything is neatly arranged and visibly priced. This is usually impulse-buy stuff, and you want people to immediately think “hey, that’s neat and I can afford it!”

    Finally, we try to have a wide variety at multiple price points. The thing to remember is that everybody at a swap meet wants to go home with something. Nobody likes going home empty handed. Lots of guys here kick about “garage sale” stuff, but things like vintage signs, radios, coolers and lighting draw attention. Not everybody at a swap meet has a project, or even a car. You get a lot of artists and craftspeople looking for material, and folks (especially gals) looking for clean vintage decorative stuff. We don't let this non-car stuff overwhelm our booth, but we always have a little section for it.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2017
    els, 13lav, loudbang and 4 others like this.
  23. southerncad
    Joined: Feb 5, 2008
    Posts: 612


    I agree with the price on an item idea...But you need to draw attention to your space, so what I do is set my little battery operated guy that blows bubbles out of his behind....hell, folks even stop to take pics of him, and look at my stuff...
    els and 49ratfink like this.
  24. BigDogSS
    Joined: Jan 8, 2009
    Posts: 753

    from SoCal

    ^^Too funny...LOL ^^
    els likes this.
  25. 49ratfink
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 16,707

    from California

    I have found if you put one of these on your table you get a lot more people stopping by to se WTF it is.
    this is probably a $400 -$500.00 toy. I had a lady tell me she can get them all day for $25.00 and that I was crazy.
    els, loudbang and Atwater Mike like this.
  26. Slopok
    Joined: Jan 30, 2012
    Posts: 1,859


    Clean & price each item and a description of what it is & what it fits, example drivers side 57 Chevy tail lamp assembly, you'd be surprised at how many people wouldn't know a familiar item even though it's obvious to us. And don't forget to point out that the adjustable wrench that they're lookin at is Metric!;)
    els, brEad and Flathead Dave like this.
  27. Roothawg
    Joined: Mar 14, 2001
    Posts: 17,768


    MY BIGGEST SWAP MEET PET PEEVE- Leaving your booth with parts unmarked and not telling your buddies what you want for stuff.
  28. BigDogSS
    Joined: Jan 8, 2009
    Posts: 753

    from SoCal

    ^^^Mine Too!!!^^^
    My friend and I go to most every Pomona and Long Beach Swapmeet and walk the entire thing. The biggest problem I have is when a seller leaves his spot to go walk around and shop and the person left there has no idea about the pricing and tells me the guy will be back later. You won't believe how often this happens. I keep walking...
    els, caseywheels and loudbang like this.
  29. TagMan
    Joined: Dec 12, 2002
    Posts: 5,629


    I used to sell license plates in pairs or as issued, at swap meets. I started out displaying them all on a tarp. I found out by experimenting at later swap meets, that if I only put 2 or 3 pairs on a table, people would look at them and I could start a conversation by telling them if those plates weren't what they were looking for, I had others. I had a list of plates and could just look at the list - if I had them, I'd pull them out of the box to show them. I tried to waste as little as possible of a buyer's time and wound up selling 3 or 4 times as many plates than I did when putting them all out.

    I also say "good morning" to everyone that stops at my tables, just as I'd welcome someone into my home.
    els, The37Kid and Montana1 like this.
  30. Montana1
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 1,306

    from Colorado

    As a buyer, I like things priced and organized. If it's something that I really don't need yet, then I might buy it just because. If I really need it for a project, I'm going to buy it anyways. It seems that the money always comes to the project for me.

    I don't like haggling over a price, so I rarely "jew" (bad term) anyone down. This ain't no auction! If it's not priced, I usually walk on by unless I really need it. I believe how you treat others will come back to you.

    As a seller,I usually greet everyone and try to be interested in them and their project. I like to show that I'm into the whole ordeal. I see everyone potentially as my next customer!

    I always like to present myself nicely dressed and ready to work the table. I usually wear a newer and clean hot rod or "MONTANA" tee-shirt, shorts, cap or what ever fits the occasion.

    I rarely sit down and if I do, it's on a tall stool so I present myself attentively. Nothing bothers me more that somebody sitting in a lawn chair playing with their i-phone with grease all over themselves.

    If someone says to me that they only have so-and-so much to spend for something, I probably will let them have it. If they try to low ball me, I politely just say, "No thanks," and move along.

    Over all, I find that car people are the nicest guys on the planet. Rarely do I find someone that I don't get along with.

    BTW, Thanks to all my customers over the years. ;)
    els, brEad, waxhead and 2 others like this.

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