What are Swap Meets?

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  • Written By: Niki Foster
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 22 March 2014
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Swap meets are events at which vendors meet to sell or trade their wares. There are usually designated areas for swap meets, also known as flea markets or bazaars, sometimes owned by an entity that rents out stalls to vendors. Going to a swap meet is a fun pastime and a great way to save money - or, for vendors, to make some money - though the quality of goods sold is often quite variable.

Swap meets can be an excellent opportunity for antique shopping. The Parisian Marche aux puces in Saint-Ouen, thought to be the "original" flea market, is particularly well known for this. Most swap meet vendors sell used goods, similar to what one would find at a thrift store, though many sell cheap new items, such as clothing, or hand-made crafts. Bootleg and counterfeit goods are common at some swap meets as well.

Swap meets vary greatly in size and organization. Some are held only occasionally, such as once a month or less, while others are open everyday. They may be held indoors, often in a large building supplied with simple stalls, or outdoors, similar to a fair or farmers' market. Some large swap meets have both indoor and outdoor areas. Some feature rides or entertainment as well as shopping. Swap meets are typically set up temporarily, in a space that is often used for other purposes at other times.


Swap meets are common throughout the Western world, enjoyed by both bargain hunters and tourists, as they are often full of local color. Sport shoppers and antique lovers are known to frequent swap meets, along with thrift stores and yard sales, in the quest for cheaply acquired, yet priceless items. Another benefit of the swap market is that prices are typically negotiable, so those with good bartering skills can get even better deals. Swap meets also offer a fairly simple and frugal way to start up a business, and many vendors sell their own creations. For this reason, you may be able to find things at a swap meet that you may not find anywhere else.


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