R/C Swap Meet Season

It’s that time of year. For many modelers winter weather means a halt to flying season, but at the same time it means Swap Meet season. I’ve been to numerous R/C swap meets over the years and don’t typically go looking for anything in particular; just keeping my eyes open for the bargain of the century, along with everybody else I guess.

When I go to a meet I often arrive just as the doors open or shortly after it starts. More often than not airplanes and equipment are leaving the swap as I’m walking up to the door. Sometimes I arrive just in time to still see the first guys that have been waiting a long time, often shivering their butts off in the cold.

There was one time, however, when I did arrive at a meet almost 20 minutes before the doors opened. This was due in part to leaving the house earlier than I normally would have, because we got hit with a few inches of snow overnight. Turns out the road crews did a very tidy job clearing the roadways prior to my departure and it didn’t take me any longer.

Arriving at the swap location and sitting in the truck all of one minute, I decided might as well join the frenzy of being one of the first in. At the main entrance I purchased my ticket but was still far from being the first one in line. The one advantage my early arrival afforded me was the ability to pass the time in the warmth of a small waiting area before the line started to extend out the door and into the cold.

Even though I was toward the back of this waiting area, my temporary position gave me and just a couple other guys a good vantage point through the door and into the swap floor. As luck would have it this random foothold turned what would have otherwise been several minutes of shear boredom into something quite entertaining.

A traveling squad of bikini clad cheerleaders, had use of the hall just prior to the swap and was still practicing. Ok, that didn’t really happen. What I did have though is a very agitated guy standing next that could see people who got in as “vendors” that were, in essence, shopping before the magic hour was supposed to begin. This guy was beside himself blurting out comments like, “They should not be allowed to do that” and “That’s unfair”.

Karma may spite me for this, but as this guy’s anguish increased so did my amusement level. This guy’s whole universe was falling apart because the bargain of the century was going out the door before he even had a chance to get in.

More evil struck me as I found myself wishing they would delay the opening a few minutes. I really wanted see how this guy would react. In retrospect, it’s probably a good thing there wasn’t a delay as I don’t think the guys he rode with would have stuck around to call 911 after the inevitable heart attack.

Going to these swap meets I often spend more on the admission and a doughnut than I do on merchandise. Does it really matter that I spent five bucks to save fifty cents on a bottle of glue? A swap meet is more of a cultural experience anyhow. Some meets I see more people from my own club than I do on any given day at the field. We might as well hold club meetings at these things.

Swap meets are quite the microcosm of economic dynamics too. Some sellers have their wares priced as if they are attempting to build an empire to rival Donald Trump. While others are there to simply get rid of it, a.k.a. the fire sale. Always seem to see a guy or two that have like new equipment that makes me wonder if they ever had a chance to use it and why is it here? Then there are those that appeared to have gone into the basement the previous night and simply found some beat up planes or R/C cast-offs that have not seen day light since the Eisenhower administration.

Most guys take time to organize their tables with each item neatly laid out and clearly priced. However there are always those that brought in several big dusty boxes that are placed on the swap table in a manner that says, “Good luck. I have no clue what’s in there either. If you find something that interests you, expect a high figure when you ask because I really don’t want to get rid of this – I’m only here because my wife made me.”

Finally, what the heck is up with the people that set up an entire table of nothing even closely related to R/C? Seriously, do they think modelers who came specifically for R/C equipment are going to buy the Chia pet they have for sale?

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