My name is Sam Romeo. I'm in charge of advertising for the Pate Swap Meet pateswapmeet.com ( starts the last Thursday of April every year at The Texas Motor Speedway). This past meet we sold right at 9000 Vendor spaces, placing Pate up close to Hersey in vendor spaces. My goal is to increase the presence of pre war vendors (both with used and new parts). My question to all of you who will reply to this post is this - what would it take to get prewar vendors motivated to vend at Pate? I can add new parts vendors to my advertising in our webpage and also in my display adds in marque magazines produced by the Model T, Model A and other clubs. Our registrar has agreed to set aside several hundred spaces in one of the new sections we have laid out in the past two years if I can get enough interest in the next few months to warrant it. And suggestions, ideas or comments.
The problem is there is a well established Pre War Swap Meet just a month earlier in Oklahoma. It is at least an interesting idea. Last time I went to Pate I don't think I saw anything of interest. I knew I would not likely go back.
I'm a recent admission to the model T community but I have collected and restored cars for over 30 years. That said, at 53 I am still possibly in the younger half of the model T owners I have met so far. This means that the most effective marketing to reach this group relies less on technology and more on print catalogs.
The prices of model T parts surprisingly low, so the margins must also be low. This might explain why there are only a handful of nationwide parts suppliers. It might be extra challenging for them to try to compete with used parts, so my guess would be that they would bring catalogs and only A few products to events. You might also suggest that they can hire local model T owners to man their booths.
Texas was always one of the best markets for the technology industry that I used to be in, and I've noticed that it is so populated by model T owners that they have their own group called the Texas Ts. Maybe you can suggest that they hold their annual meetings at your event.
A section for pre WW2 cars and parts would be great in my opinion. This would encourage people who have the old and antique type of cars to go.
To each their own in that regard. Some people like to walk and others not so much. Having pre WW2 cars in one area would work I think.
The reason people like to go Chickasha OK. is its a large accumulation of T parts IN ONE PLACE for this part of the country.
I haven't been to Pate in several years as the last time I went there wasn't much T stuff there.
Might be a good idea for other eras of cars to be in sections. Say 50's thru 70's and so on. A general area for these types of cars would help.
My opinion and others will surely differ.
This is PERFECT timing! While attending the MTFCA National Tour in Albuquerque last week and being a member of the local Model T Club that works at Pate (Lone Star T's) I had a conversation with a couple that travels the US selling parts at swap meets. They attend both in October and I brought up Pate. They said that they would come and sell at Pate IF there was a section just for Pre-War parts - it would make it worth the trip for them to attend. How to get the word out? While you already advertise in national publications include that in your ads.
It can be said in one word BUYERS! I used go to several swap meets a year to sell. There are no buyers for T parts at them. Unless it says PRE WAR in the name, I do not waste my time with it. Used to go to Pate when it was at the Old place. When one or two times to the speedway, nothing. Just hot rods.
I agree that a Pre war section is a good start. It will not happen overnight or even in one swap meet. A dedicated section will at least show that there may be parts there. Like in "Field of Dreams" "build it and they will come" I would be tempted to come if I knew I had a section for my type of parts. I set up every year at Chickasha, Petitt Jean in Arkansas and at Springfield Mo. I used to go to Pate till it moved and there was really no more old parts showing up. It would need to be in your ads that a pre war section is included. You may want to get on some of the other web sites for other makes as well as the Model A guys. I hate to say it, but the rat rod guys are also a strong section of the hobby and they like the pre war body styles, so they will show interest, at least as buyers ... good luck ... and hope it works out ....
My problem with Pate is there are ten motor homes parked in spaces for every vendor selling parts. You have to walk the length of the swap meet to pass twenty vendors. If you want Pate to survive you need to ban parking of anything that is not for sale in the vending area. I would be a vendor in a pre - war section if parking of non sale items were made mandatory.
I am a vendor at Chickasha every year. That meet is dying because of mismanagement too.
I haven't been to Pate in quite a while. As I recall it was whatever wherever as far as cars and parts were concerned.
I don't know how Pate is arranged now but it makes sense to me to have antique, classic and newer in their own locations and not have a mixed up bunch of this and that. I'm glad others agree that at least having a pre-war section would help along with vendors separate from motor homes.
My first comment is that Chickasha seems to be on the decline. I think partly from mismanagement and partly from those of us involved with prewar cars getting too much gray hair. Pate is too large for prewar vendors to be scattered, but at the same time, our newly opened areas where I can place large groups are either way down on the south end of the meet or very close in to all the action, but on the dirt just west of our main street "Petty". In 2015, my advertising in The Antique Motorcycle "The publication of The Antique Motorcycle Club of America" help bring Pate to the attention of their local chapter "The Cherokee Chapter". In two years, they have taken over 325 spaces in one section. They had the desire and the staying power to accumulate enough spaces in one chosen area. I can't take spaces from vendors who have renewed their spaces in a timely manner irrelevant of what they put on those spaces. Therefore I have to go south on pavement or west into the dirt. I have been in contact with both national Model T organizations on how to proceed from here. They have given me valuable ideas I plan on implementing as soon as possible. Please jump in with suggestions on where we should place a prewar section and how to entice buyers to come?
For whatever it is worth. I sometimes still go to a couple of the swap meets around Sacramento because they are close (an hour's drive each way), and a fair amount of early stuff does show up if you take the trouble to go through the whole thing. They probably have several hundred sellers (not multiple thousands), and can be walked all the way through in a few hours.
Any meet in the multiple thousands of sellers that wants to attract specialty buyers and specialty sellers (either one without the other will not work!), had better figure out some way to regionalize some of the specialties around the meet's grounds. This could be handled in many different ways depending upon the layout of the grounds and availability of parking for buyers.
One of the big problems is simply that most sellers do not sell exclusively in one specialty. They may be 50% general stuff, and 50% 1950s so-called classics. Or they may be 50% pre-war (which term isn't quite limiting enough for some of us). Unfortunately, automobile vintages DO NOT split cleanly into nice little pigeon holes. 1920s and earlier, 1920s and '30s, '30s through '50s, or '50s/'60s to newer and more modern along with pure vintage, hotrod, or rat-rod sub-designations. How to divide areas and crossover zones could take a few years to iron out the details on. General all era sellers could be placed in the center area, with the various specialties at different compass points around.
A specialty buyer then could spend most of his day around his favored area, and part of the day in the general area, leaving out other areas entirely depending upon his time.
I have never been to a meet the size of Hershey or similar meets. But I know that nobody can see all of one that size in a single day. Not even close to it. I have been to meets (including Bakersfield) that I spent almost the entire day and barely saw it all even once. That is partly due to the fact that most of the stuff at Bakersfield is of interest to me. I spend time at almost every space. Meets several times the size of Bakersfield I often cover in a few hours because I walk by most spaces with little more than a glance at the stuff there.
That is my view on the subject.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Sam thanks for being here on the forum for trying to bring interest in pre-war cars at Pate. You mentioned the Motorcycle club having a fairly large presence at Pate and having 325 spaces in ONE SECTION and having the desire and staying power to make it work. That's great.
When people know there will be a section for their favorite era, ( pre-war since this is where T's and A's would be) that will peak interest and people will come. It wont be perfectly divided but you have to start somewhere.
It might encourage vendors to be there if they know it will be done that way also. And if you advertise Pate will begin having areas devoted to certain eras of cars and parts that would help to attract more people AND vendors.
I don't know what your lead time is for people to reserve spaces but if you start letting vendors know that your going to restructure your meet that would help in the long run to make Pate bigger AND BETTER.
John - I can't restructure something as large as Pate. Remember that although it is a labor of love so to speak, it is also a very profitable money maker for the 16 member clubs that make up the association and actually operate the meet. I can steer advertising dollars in various ways and hold back selling certain spaces that were not reclaimed by the last vendor in a timely fashion after the previous meet, but I can't displace currently paid up vendors from their spaces. That said we're looking at holding back selling spaces in a certain zone where a lot of Model A vendors currently sell their wares (this would be maybe 200 spaces in a zone of 2500 spaces). What should I do, attempt to place prewar vendors scattered about an existing 2500 space area or place them in a new area. This is my current concern before I start pitching my case to national clubs and vendors.
Wayne - I can reinforce what you stated. In 2015 I stumbled upon and absolutely perfect 1915 Model T block in a large pile of T parts a collector way dumping. He wanted $20.00 for it. That pushed me into looking closer for Model T parts this year and guess what - they were there. Just scattered out and with other stuff.
What should we do - set up a new section for prewar on pavement on the south side, set up a new section in the dirt parking lot west of the meet (gravel roads but spaces on dirt) or mix them in a current 2500 space area? any ideas or suggestions?
Sam: I, like many others, have been going to Pate a looooong time. It has gradually become a Flea Market with a lot of non-transportation items displayed. A "transportation only "designation for the swap meet would be a place to start.
Sam : No, you cant restructure the meet in a year or two and it would take a while to do it but if the thought is planted it may grow. This would take planning and foresight.
In general though I think to gradually begin to have a pre-war section would work.
Sounds to me like Pate has begun to have 'growing pains' with non-transportation items being brought to sell. If that's so somebody needs to control that. Nothing's easy to fix when the management wont or cant fix issues when they begin to arise. Not being critical but that's what happens when things grow.
I agree that having a prewar section is an excellent idea. I expect it would attract both sellers and buyers.
One thing about your rules. If you are going to have a "Transportation only rule" that would be good. BUT enforce it. A lot of swap meets say that, but look around there. They look like a big Wal-Mart with no roof. The "officials" ride by on their golf carts and do nothing. "NO Parking cars on swap spaces without something to sell", again same officials ride by and do nothing. Next year same thing again. If you have rules enforce them. Do not just sell spaces to be selling spaces. I understand needing to make money, so do the vendors. If we don't we stop coming.
Dan - The Pate Swap Meet LLP has one primary goal and that is to make money. Our president, John Anderson, has discussed getting Pate so large that we could afford to make the spaces more valuable where we could both restrict the space use and raise the space rentals. I think that is down the road and not going to help us add to the diversify of the meet at this time. In the past two years we have added the Antique Motorcycle Meet / Show and also a custom car show "The Pate Super Nationals" to attract more participation. There is a major entertainment being worked on right now that will bring in a lot more visitors to our show. Our goal of adding the pre war area is part of making Pate the best Swap Meet in the U.S. with a place for everyone.
Tim / John - you have no idea what growing pains are. Fortunately we have David Anderton,the best coordinator in Pates history running the actual meet. The meet itself has run smoothly these past three years with David at the helm. The turmoil is usually internal and another story completely. Pate has rules only about what can't be sold and from what I remember, there are only a few items; firearms and the few items TMS prohibits.
Hi Sam, I do applaud your efforts however I can only answer your 'Q' from my perspective. I attended the very first Pate Swap meet held at Mr. Pate's farm there in Cresson when I was 7 or 8 y.o., and did so for many, many years following. I have many fond memories there, -and some scary ones too (-like being under the very tree that Tommy Trailor clipped in his bi-wing airplane that year up by the house). I later attended after the move to the stadium and on to the track. I have not attended in the last decade or so due to many of the very reasons listed above.
As for attracting more, -or former Prewar and T-guys, my opinion is the damage has already been done and the meet's direction has been set. Folks who were there in the beginning will tell you how Prewar items was the very items that were vended there. Folks attending had just as much gray hair back then as they do today. The difference between then and now is convenience IMHO.
Additionally, I feel your comment about the focus being on making money is probably very true, --and ultimately is likely what the demise is from. Initially this swap meet was intended for the furtherance of the hobby, ...and the caveat was each of the participating clubs got to share in the proceeds as a fundraiser. As greed overtook the original concept, the attendance demographics also changed by adding non-transportation vendors. With 9k spaces sold, I feel the LLC is doing well as a business, and I am not so sure the Prewar buyers/sellers even need to be there for this to be considered a successful event.
In reality, do I really want to be there? The short answer for me is 'No'. For me, the thrill is no longer there for Pate like it once was, -or like it is with Luray, Chickasha, or Hershey. With classifieds here and on Fordbarn, --and with a few swap meets designated strictly as Prewar-only meets spread around the country, is there really a need for an additional meet that could possibly dilute the attendance of the smaller Prewar designated meets? Again, I feel the answer for me is 'No'. I view this much like WalMart coming to town to sell a little of everything causing the Mom & Pop stores to lose enough customers where it is not worth their while to remain open. Again, it appears Pate LLC is thriving with their current business plan, and I personally would not like to see a smaller meet suffer from attendance issues due to a larger meet trying to cater to the Prewar crowd at this point in time. I do appreciate your efforts in thinking about us though.
Sam, as quite possibly one of the youngest members of this forum, I might have a different opinion of the swap meet situation compared to other members. I've never been to your meet, and from what I've heard it doesn't sound like something I can afford to come to. I live in Illinois, and a road trip to Texas would be very costly before I even buy a part. Older members of the forum might have more time and money to come to the meet, but they need to know they will be able to recoup their time, either by selling their parts or by buying parts they can't find elsewhere. But I think eBay has basically killed swap meets. At least any that aren't dedicated to certain things like Hershey or Chickasha. Why would I load up parts and drive so far from home when I can find it on eBay and get it shipped directly to my house?
Perhaps instead of convincing national organizations to come, look for local chapters of the national clubs. If you got enough local members of the MTFCA or the HCCA, that might bring some more attention to your meet. If you can get some vendors interested in coming, you can advertise it as being more pre-war friendly. But honestly the best thing you can hope for is to get enough clubs to come from the local area and see if you can get them to do an article in their respective magazines about their experiences at the swap meet. That might do more for advertising your club than a quarter-page ad in the back of the magazine. It will give people something to think about attending next year. Maybe your pre-war vendors will want to come in two years, but you can't convince them to come immediately. It's got to grow organically.
Jared - with the modern internet no one really needs swap meets any longer. Swap Meets are basically a very large social function where we can also make a few dollars to pay for the trip. They can be fun and entertaining and or business. Many companies set up just to keep their names in public view. I've already got a list on Model T clubs coming and we'll send invitations directly to local clubs
Brent - I'll bet Pate already have more pre war parts then Chickasha. It's just so scattered out, you can't easily see it. My goal is to bring even more parts & cars and make it visible. Question - how can you use the term "demise" when we've sold approximately 2000 more spaces in the past 5 years. 8700+ spaces and demise don't really add up.
I sincerely appreciate the comments - keep them coming.
Sam I have to say that that your pretty much right as far as the internet having a big part in changing the ways we buy, sell, and advertise antique and classic cars. There may come a time when the term pre-war will come into question. Todays younger generation will wonder 'which war' when speaking of pre war cars. Some already do.
For now having an area to pull pre-war cars and parts can only help to draw more people to Pate.
Thanks for your efforts.
Sam, I wasn't trying to offend you or anybody else. Just stating a fact. The problem is it's hard for a guy like me to justify driving 10 hours to a swap meet even if I know there will be parts there I need or people I know. I understand companies wanting to keep their names in view, but with Model T's we only have a handful of dealers and they each have their niches and loyal customers. It's probably harder for the Flathead Ford or Tri-Five Chevy dealers to keep such a loyal fanbase as there are more parts dealers in those segments. I don't know for sure, but that's how I see it.
I am excited to see somebody taking an interest in keeping pre-war cars involved in the hobby. I sometimes feel like I was born about five decades late, as it seems nobody my age is truly interested in this time period.
I echo much of what Brent-in-10-uh-C, said about things that have killed pre-war swap meets in Texas. In the 60's and 70's, the few swap meets scattered around Texas, were mainly for the convenience of the buyer, and the swap meet just hoped to make expenses and break even.
There were no muscle car, pony car, or racing parts at these meets and if you found any, they were aluminum heads and intakes for flathead Ford V8"s.
Muscle cars, pony cars, and dragsters have their place, but I guess us 'ol' farts' don't have the stamina to walk the entire infield at Texas Motor Speedway unless that area contains nothing but pre-war parts.
Check out America's most prosperous pre-war swap meets and you find the reason they are big and prospering is that they are pre-war only and no post 1950 parts or cars to be found.
I'll bet Pate already have more pre war parts then Chickasha. It's just so scattered out, you can't easily see it. My goal is to bring even more parts & cars and make it visible.
Question - how can you use the term "demise" when we've sold approximately 2000 more spaces in the past 5 years. 8700+ spaces and demise don't really add up.
Brent - you are 100% correct that Hershey could probably double it's size if space permitted and I know the AACA or it's region that runs Hershey would put the extra revenue to good use. That said, remember that when our early cars were made, say 1910, the population of Texas was half that of Pa. Further that San Antonio was 54th, Dallas was 58th and Houston 68th in population. We were miniscule in size compared to the cities in the northeast when these cars were made. That's why Hershey is the largest draw - it's much closer to the places where the cars were sold. Further no one likes to pull a loaded trailer 1700+ miles one way to a swap meet. Since the northeast is more densely populated, you have a larger group of collectors within a smaller circle.
That said, my goal is to make Pate all inclusive for everyone in the collector car hobby west of the Mississippi. We already have the Pate Times we hand out that has all vendors listed. I will try and have some modifications made in the listings to make it easier to find specific vendors by type of items they sell. I have the go ahead from our president and coordinator to set aside 300 spaces with lots of close by expansion area in a new section on pavement with a nearby concession stand, covered rest area and a spot for some of our members to display their brass cars. We will have both our registrars phone numbers and an information number available in all of our print advertising in the magazines published by most of the national clubs who specialize in prewar cars. I am open to all suggestions both pro and con.
Thanks for all of your feedback.
Page is going to continue to die as long as the swap area is dominated by motor homes. You guys need to make it into a swap meet. Put the campers outside the vending area. Get rid of non automotive vendors.
I agree with Royce, If your going to make it a swap meet then do not allow motorhomes and campers in the same spots as the sales items and do away with non automotive items or put them in another area away from the automotive area. Make some room for campers somewhere else. There was a real nice vintage engine swap meet in Pa I used to got but stopped going because it turned into junk. It didnt take long for the engine guys to go to more engine related flea markets to sell there stuff.