Swap meets, as you may have noticed, are the backbone of my entire shopping strategy. I seem to get everything there, from business shirts to leather jackets to boots. But where the heck are these swap meets? And how can you take advantage of these veritable shopping wonderlands, too?
Identifying Your Options
First and foremost, I highly recommend keysfleamarket.com, a comprehensive swap meet database searchable by state and organized by city. This site is wonderful in providing the dates and times when the swap meets are active, and it also provides a brief description of each site's atmosphere and wares. Besides the internet, you can often also find swap-meet like environments at churches and schools. They may call them "rummage sales" or any number of names, but the idea is that a wide variety of sellers congregate in one place for your shopping convenience (this sets them apart from garage sales, which can be equally inexpensive but a waste of time and gas based on their limited selection). These sales are often advertised in school/church/city newsletters, but sometimes you only know about them when you drive past a sign or banner advertisement. The fiance and I have even used this site to find swap meets to visit while on vacation -- cheap souvenirs, ahoy!
Choosing Your Poison
If there's one thing you should take away from this post, it's that not all swap meets are created equal. Definitely take your shopping goals and limitations into account and study the swap meet descriptions for a good fit. For example, if you're looking for cheap clothing, then you should stay far, far away from swap meets which advertise "antiques" or "collectibles" or frequent visits by "celebrities" (Rose Bowl Flea Market, I'm looking at you and your overpriced "vintage" wares). Instead, scan the descriptions for "lots of used" or "2nd hand" merchandise.
Stay tuned for an in-depth look at how to swap for the best deals!