I just read a thread on the "HAMB" about swap meet experiences and it is mostly funny. Some sellers get insulted and stomp on parts then offer them back or refuse to sell...if you have decades of experience you have seen the tempers flare.
Long ago I went to swap meets with another guy and we were both hot on battery horns that brought about $45-50 each. I carried a newspaper delivery shoulder bag for my purchases and had this one battery horn...I would take it with me to each swap meet and paint it a different color or in primer, put on a late 26-27 mount either broken or good or an earlier mount or no mount. I would put a tag of $1 or $2.50 or $15 and just drove this guy nuts for a couple of years. Never did tell him.
I was in Midland MI once and saw a copper laundry boiler full of oil filters. The copper boiler was just beautiful with the lid and asked the seller about the boiler, he dumped out the oil filters and sold me and wife the boiler for $15.
At the Indianapolis swap meet myself and friends had just started and up on a hill I saw a front and rear axle right out of the scrap yard, just twisted junk and useless but attached was a full set of Mercury Speedster fenders and brackets. The fenders were just pieces of lace sheet metal and the irons were bent from being drug out probably by a tractor. I split off from my group and ran up the hill. The seller (who is a well known vendor here) told me he had just bought them that morning off a trailer for xx and did I know what they were. I said yes, Mercury Speedster and I owned 139. He was going to take them to Hershey but since I had the car I could buy them for xxx (10x). Cash was being counted while my group caught up and when I walked away they thought I was nuts and what did I just do? I told them I could go to every swap meet for the rest of my life and never find those again. I stopped at the hardware later that day and bought chain and a padlock to lock them into my truck while at the hotel that night.
The funny stories are the "experts" who show off for the group and are wrong and the vendors who apparently think a swap meet is a show and like to carry things around that nobody will buy.
I have also seen 2 people dead at swap meets. Those were not good days.
Another Indianapolis story; a vendor with tin signs was at the bottom of the hill when a whirl wind blew in. For about a minute there were 100's of flat sheet metal signs up in the air and spinning around and crashing back down. Sheet metal doesn't fly like a Frisbee and it was all "duck and cover". Nobody got hurt that I saw and I was about 20 feet away from the impact zone.
Ive been a vendor for 37 years. I have dozens of stories but here is one of the funny ones. A friend of mine and myself were set up as vendors at the Petit Jean swap meet in Arkansas. I had an old under dash air conditioning unit for a 60s model Ford car. I had hauled it a couple years with no takers. It had been priced at 25.00. I took my marker and marked through the 25.00 and wrote 20.00 on it. A little while later I noticed my friend had marked through the 20.00 and wrote 15.00 on it. Without saying anything I marked through the 15.00 and wrote 10.00. Well of course he marked it down to 5.00. and then I marked it to 0.00. We were sitting there drinking a Coke when it hit me. I got up and marked it -5.00. I told my friend that we could keep on marking it, but wherever it sold, The person who marked it had to pay. It had been marked down to -20.00 (by me) and I saw a customer standing there looking confused at the sign. Finally he said "does that mean what I think it means" I said "what do you think it means" and he said "you will pay me 20.00 to take it' I told him yes. and he said "in that case I want it". So I gave him a 20.00 bill and his air conditioning unit. The story of the "two crazy guys" who were paying people to take things spread quickly. We did not pay any more people to take things, but our sales really picked up....
Not T related but a few years ago I had a 1942 Chevy coupe. 1942 passenger cars are pretty rare, any make. At a swap meet I spotted 2 NOS grilles, belonging to the same seller. When I asked about the grilles his response was - I"ll take fifteen for the pair. Thinking he meant $1500.00 I was about to walk away. He called for me to come back and I found out he meant $15.00. I bought them both.
Ive made fair offers on parts before, and had the seller simply turn his back on me and ignore me. Hello?....excuse me...hello....? Weird, he wouldn't even respond to me. I would have accepted a "go to hell " at least.
At a small swap meet a few years ago, I was unloading some stuff from the back of my pickup truck and a well dress gentleman and his "showpiece" girlfriend walked up. One word out of his mouth and I could tell he was acting the "big-shot" to impress his girlfriend. He grabbed onto a pair of NOS T windshield posts that I had marked at $40 and offered me ten bucks. I told him No, and of course he knew all about what they were really worth and proceeded to try and force ten bucks into my hand. I eventually just turned away and started talking to another customer and he drifted away. I decided I would just put the parts back into the truck and keep them. A few hours later, he came back, without the girlfriend, and asked if I still had the parts. I told him no, but if he still needed some I had another pair that was going to keep, but they were even nicer and were $75 for the pair. He asked to see them, and as I retrieved them from the truck, scrapped off the masking tape with the price on them. He looked them over carefully, and offered me $40, which was what I was asking to begin with. I told him no, I would go no less that Fifty Bucks. He stuffed a $50 bill in my hand rather quickly and disappeared, no doubt going back to tell his girlfriend what a great deal be got. I sill laugh about that one.
Later I'll tell you about the time I sold mud at Hershey!
Two years ago at the first Luray Va. swap meet one vendor had a motor home with an awning attached and there were 4 or 5 women sitting under the awning talking.
I overheard one of the women say "Hell, I wouldn't even have a kitchen but it came with the house!"
I stop at every hardware shop between home and the Bendigo swap meet in Victoria. That's 700km. At one stop I bought 2 boxes of brass 1 1/2" by 8g slot head wood screws. I didn't need 2 x 144 screws so offered some at the swap at 10 for $1. I got a mobile call from my wife Nancy while on a walk around for tools. She'd had an offer of $2 for 15. She told the bloke she'd have to ask me first if that was OK! Sounded OK to me.
She counted out his 15 and he walked off, but stopped about 30 yards away. She thought she was in for it. He turned back, to get another 15 at the same price!!!!
Some people just have to bargain for a bargain.
Allan from down under.
This is a wrecking yard story ... I had pulled a bumper guard assembly
off a deeply buried 56 Chevy and along with a bunch of other items, paid
the owner and was loading up the truck. It was slow and the same guy
came out to chat us up ... where we were from, that kind of thing. All
of a sudden he gets serious and asks where I got those bumper guards (they
were already packed into the load). Before I could answer, he was going on
about needing a set for his Nomad and having looked for years for a set. He
asked if they could be bought and I replied "make me an offer". His offer
was about 10x what the entire load had cost me ! I was tempted to be an
ass and counter offer, just to see where it might go, but bit my tongue. I
don't think it could have been possible to make this guy happier that day.
I had a pair of NOS TT Running boards for sale. Now these running boards are not reproduced. If you're restoring a show truck, you really need them. Repro car running boards go for $160. I figured a fair price for the TT running boards were $250, and sold a set last year for that amount. A guy asks what I want for them, I said $250, he pulls out his wallet and first hands me a 5 dollar bill. I'm waiting for the rest, as he is looking at me strangely. All of a sudden I realized he thought I met 2.50. I told him 250 dollars, he stood there dumbfounded and then reached for his 5 dollar bill and left.
My wife's story: I had a 27 nickel plated brass radiator shell. Very nice original condition. I had 100.00 on it. A man asked my wife if she would take 50.00 for it. She said no, it's a very nice brass one, no dents or cracks. He then told her it wasn't brass, and they are all over the place for 45.00-90.00. She told him he should have bought the 45.00 one then.
I was at a junk swap meet and had a box of 30 fishing reals. Guy ask what I wanted for the box $50 to high and walks off He comes back and picks out 4 and ask how much $10 each he pays and walks off same guy comes back picks out 4 more how much $10 each he pays comes back and picks out one, I said that is a rear one and is in excellent condition I want $15 for it He pays When I was loading up he comes back and wants to buy the whole box I said $20 He pays and was happy. My question did I get took on the deal?
The woman who got a free house that with went with the kitchen she bought reminded me I came in the house wearing a new orange kubota hat, wiffie sez where did you get the hat? I said I payed $19,500 for this hat and got a free tractor. She said YOU GOTA BE S*&% ME But now she said that tractor is better for me than another woman
" ... But now she said that tractor is better for me than another woman."
A shovel would be even better .... keeps you in shape !
My son and his girlfriend went with us to a swap meet once. He was negotiating a price on something and telling the vendor he didn't have that much money and only had this much.....when his girlfriend piped up and said "I got a twenty." She was really cute, but nowhere close to the brightest light in the hall.
One time at a swap meet I found a pair of hi-po Pontiac exhaust manifolds that I knew my brother needed for one of his cars. The vendor wanted about 20 dollars more than I had on me, and wouldn't budge until I showed him my empty wallet and turned my pockets inside out to prove that I had given him every penny I had! He relented and sold me the manifolds.
I really have a problem with the pompous pr!cks that grace our hobby.
I say this in a more general old car sense than a Model T sense. 20hp
seems to limit the number of chest pounders.
Years ago I thought car shows and all that BS was a normal and natural
part of the old car experience. I took my DeSoto to a big show down
in Graham. In tow was my girlfriend and her 10-year-old brother. The
place was filling up and single spot remained open in that area and a
guy with the Red Corvette was directed to put his car there next to mine.
By the fit this butthead threw, you'd think they told him to strip naked
and let everyone urinate on him ! He was angry and yelling. He did not
want his glorious Red Corvette parked next to a junker like my old DeSoto !
But the place was packed (nowhere else to park it) and he left us there to
go consort with other Corvette snobs. After a while he returned and a
series of comments were made about junkers and real cars and good car
people vs. riff-raff. He became quite agitated as time went by because
no one stopped to look at his Red Corvette, but crowds were gathered
all around the seldom seen DeSoto. This really chapped his hide and he
got quite loud and vocal about it.
Now, 10-year-old little brother was a sharp kid, and he was getting pretty
angry about this Red Corvette guy, so I did a little coaching with the kid
and let him put on an Oscar-winning performance. He went around the
Red Corvette and being careful not to touch, got the owner up to chaperone
the lad and answer any questions. The kid came in low and slow and asked
all the right questions and when Red Corvette guy had really taken the bait,
he asked him if he liked young boys. The guy said "Well, sure Iike young
boys !", and the kid began to say "But do you REALLY like young boys ?"
when the crowd around the DeSoto heard the Red Corvette guy's comment
and Red Corvette guy realized he'd stepped in it large. He got in his car
and about ran people over getting out of there.
A real asset to the old car hobby.
I purchased a rusty and incomplete but running well 1922 Roadster with disk brakes on the rear and hydraulic drum brakes on the front with a BB RAJO engine in it. It had to park on our side drive because there was no room in the barn and Mary was not happy at all with that unsightly mess ruining the view, It had a Ruckstell and a modern five speed transmission with reverse giving it 20 forward speeds. The body was rusted from halfway down the doors to the frame rails with daylight showing through and there was no turtle deck but there was a good gas tank in it and the cowl was perfect. There were four fenders with some holes in them but the edges were perfect and had no rust. Excellent candidates for patching up a jig saw puzzle. I bought it just for fun and took it to the Long Beach , CA swap meet. I sold the body for $50 and had the four fenders sitting in a pile.
A fellow came bye in a nice 40 Ford pickup and asked how much for the left rear fender which was perfect. I told him I wanted $100 for it. He asked me how much for the two rear fenders and I told him $75. He asked how much for all four and I said I wanted $50. He drove away, He later walked up to me and asked about the fenders and I said $100 for one, $75 for two, or $50 for all four and he walked away scratching his head. He came back several more times even more confused each time.
Later on near the end of the day ha came back with his truck and handed me $50 and told me that either he was being taken or I was crazy and asked me why I had priced them that way. I told him I wanted to sleep inside the house that night and not in that car on the driveway in the rain again. At least I told him the truth ! Slow Frank
Having been a long term Hershey attendee, we had a lot of interesting stories form the grass and mud days.
One was in the old green field back in the pre pavement days. One of the rain and wind days just made the conditions ever worse.
The green field was a bit hilly and at the bottom there were small ponds of water such as a catch basin.
The wind was blowing and the porti potties were being blown over some blew over and slid down the hill into the small ponds. They laid there floating in the water on their sides.
We are standing at the top of one of the hills as there 2 well dressed ladies wearing dresses walked by taking up a storm. They were so busy chatting they were oblivious to the up coming downward slope. Over the top and down they went. About 1/2 way down they lost their footing and started to slip down the hill on their posterior's. By the time they stopped at the bottom of the slope, they were sitting in the pond, with porti potties floating around them. Of course they both got a mud enema. The day was dark and gloomy, but the bright red glow from their embarrassment was better than the sunrise.
My wife and I had an antiques yard sale. In the sale I had a vintage brass candle stick phone. We were selling from two ends of the yard and my wife gestured how much I wanted for the phone. I held up two fingers.
A couple of minutes later I saw a man leaving with the phone and I walked over to my wife to congratulate her on the $200 sale. Her face went white and she said "you only said two ! " ... "so I sold it for $2 !"
I ran after the guy who was just getting in his car and said ... "come on .. you knew what was going on here. " I sold it to him for $170. A week later I saw it at the flea market on a table priced at $125.
About 20 years ago vending at Hershey a group of us had a stall. We all brought parts and threw them out in the stall. One or two would watch the stall while the others swapped. Some fellow came over with a spotlight he had found in our stall and asked how much. I polled my fellow vendor and he said he didn't know anythING about it..."must be Jim's or Bill's, they're out shopping". We decided Jim or Bill would want $20 for it. A little while later the "real owner" of the spotlight showed up at our stall. He wasn't part of our group but was a "swapper" walking the field. Seems that he had laid the light in our stall to look at something then forgot to pick it up. I told him what happened and handed him the $20. He took it. I asked if he made any money on it. I think he was still kind of stunned by the whole deal.
When I was in college I took a break for the Turlock swap meet. On a table I found a 16valve roof head. Having built a speedster I knew right away what it was. I asked the man behind the table knowing I didn't have money to buy it.
"Out of curisoity how much for the 16 valve roof?"
After looking me up and down a couple times I will never forget his response.
"You are way too young to know what that is"
Not really a swap meet story, but I once had a really nice 1958 Volkswagen on ebay for sale.
Naturally I had a lot of questions about it, but the main one was how the various tyre kickers could get it home as I had clearly and firmly stated "No Shipping!" in the auction, the buyer would have to come and get it, or arrange to have it picked up themselves.
Sure the car ran great, it was refurbished and repainted and mechanically as good as the day it left Wolfsburg, but as I stressed in the ad, it was strictly mid-1930's technology and not really suited for today's highways and prolonged high speed (>45mph...) driving.
Of course, that didn't stop folks from asking if they could drive it home from here ("Sure, allow one day per 300 miles."), or as one prospective sun burnt buyer asked, ..."if I would be willing to drive it to their house in Arizona for a BUS ticket home?"!
I successfully deflected all these dreamers of free deliveries until I tangled with a impressively persistent fellow from Wisconsin who initially sent me a laundry list of questions about the car ("How are the brakes? does it have any squeaks and rattles? does it use oil? how many gallons does the fuel tank hold?...) After answering his queries, he immediately shot back "Would this car be a good car for my 17 year old daughter?"
Hmm, that's a good question. "Can she drive a stick?" I asked.
"No, but she is willing to learn." he replied, then he asked "What safety equipment does this car have- seat belts, ABS, air bags or OnStar???"
Right then I realized he had no idea how basic a mode of transportation this car is- it didn't have any of that useless fluff! I can't sell him this car, but how to gently discourage him?
I replied-a bit tongue-in-cheek, that "Sorry, it doesn't have any safety equipment EXCEPT the gasoline tank which sits right in front of you behind the dashboard. It is placed there so if you hit something head-on it will explode and hopefully blow you clear of the wreckage."
That only kept him away for a day or two, then he came back with a real jaw-droppin' doozey-- "If my daughter flew into your closest airstrip, could you pick her up, take her to your house, and teach her how to drive the car so she can drive it home?"
Wow, that's a new one. He was so determined to get that bug, he would send his far-too-trusting daughter across country and into the grease-stained clutches of some back-woods cretin he had never met! How can I make this idiot see what a horrifically bad idea that could be?
So I replied: "Well, that depends, what does she look like?"
Much to my relief, I never heard from him again!
I have been going to Hershey since the early 60's and have always had a table with items for sale. I was always amazed that I could roam the fields with my spaces unattended and nothing was ever stolen. One year I thought that steak had been broken when I returned to my space with my finds and noticed that an early Arizona license plate I had out on the table was missing. I had planned on asking $50 for it as it was in very nice shape but did not have the price marked on it. I remarked to my son that it was bound to happen sooner or later. Two days later as I was packing up to go home I took the top off of one of my packing boxes and found the license plate with an envelope taped to it. In the envelope was a $100 bill and a $20 bill with a note saying " I have been back and forth to your spaces all day trying to buy this plate but I have to head back home this afternoon so I am hoping you will accept my offer of $100 for the plate and send it to me at the following address. The $20 should cover the postage. Thanks".
Needless to say, that certainly restored my faith in the people who are active in this hobby. I still wonder what the guy was planning to do if I had just kept the money and not sent the plate. I guess he felt people in the hobby would never do that and, at least in my case, he was right! I couldn't get to the post office fast enough to get the plate to him.
Great story, Val, there are some good ones out there!
I was at the Englishtown swap meet in NJ and there was a guy selling the contents of an auto parts store that caught fire. Most items were fine, but had smoke or water damage on the box, and everything was cheap.
On the ground there was an engine stand and an engine crane (cherry picker) next to each other new in their boxes undamaged. I asked the vendor how much the engine crane was. He said, "25 dollars." I replied, "Not the engine stand, the engine crane." He looked at me kinda funny and said, "35 dollars?" I stopped talking and handed him the cash.
Not a funny story, to me at least, but interesting nonetheless: Back in the old White Field days at Hershey, a 30-ish guy with a thick New York accent wanted a nice roadster door that I had out on my sales pile. I think I was asking $25 for it. He sadly said how he needed the door cheap because his terminally ill Dad had spent his life savings on hospital bills and they wanted to finish the car before he passed on, etc, etc. So I all but gave him the door. The instant it was in his possession he grinned and started yelling "SUCKAH!! You fell for it!! What an idiot! I'm gettin' 50 bucks for this door!" And he went away still hootin' and hollerin', drawing all sorts of attention, about how stupid I was.
He may have been right, but to have that and one other incident be the only negative experiences in dealing with thousands of great friends and customers over the years makes me pretty doggone lucky in my book.
No, R.V. - He was drawing attention to how stupid HE was. Some people just love to do that.
So what exactly is a "thick New York accent"?
That would be Greater New York, not the Ontario Watershed of Upstate.
R.V. - Rest assured THAT GUY will meet his comeuppance. Sooner or later, they all do! Personally, I appreciate those friends I've made along the way.
Tim - I think that a New Youk accent is where people live that hopefully "pahk the cah" when they've had a bit too much to drink at the bah and walk home if it's not too fah!
Me and my Buddy have been going to Chickasha and Hershey for well over a dozen years. He is not a car guy but he enjoys going and I have to say he comes up with some very interesting items. As best as I can remember, the year was 2012 and we had driven all night after a full day at work. We got to Hershey about 4:30am the first morning of the show. We were so hyped up we didn't sleep and walked all day long. It was almost dark outside when my Buddy text me and asked me to come over to the chocolate field, said he had met some cool guys. Well I finally arrived and there were about 4 guys and they were some more nuts. Well, we had been there talking for quite some time when one of the guys started talking about how they liked midget racing. My Buddy perked up and looked at me and exclaimed " hey, we were in Chickasha last March at a swap meet and there were flyers posted everywhere about Midget Wrestling, remember?" Well, I am like, "Yeah, I remember"! I thought he was pulling their legs so I went along with it (I had only been up a little over 40 hours) for a while until my Buddy said "dang, I didn't know they had Midget races too" One of the guys said, "wait a minute, do you think we are talking about Midgets"? About that time those guys lost it and so did I. I laughed so hard I thought I was going to pass out. It was the funniest thing.
They had a poster hanging on the wall and every year they would write down any event or happening that made an impact on them. Needless to say, Midget Races and Wrestling made It to the poster that year! We have met up with those Guys every year since. I have made a lot of Friends at swap meets.
Harold, I think that people "pahk the cah (in the Havahd Yahd)" in Boston rather than New York. Not sure what they do in New York.
"How many New Yorkers does it take to change a light bulb? "
"None a ya f*****g business!"
Now, that's funny, Dick !!!
Honesty and Hershey: About 10 years ago I was walking the fields and ended up between the stadium and the old arena. There was an unattended stall and before my eyes was a new cast aluminum square door transmission cover. No one around and the neighbors did not have a phone number or know the vendors name.
There was a jar with a lid on the table and a note, Be honest and put the money in the jar. The transmission cover had a $600.00 price on it. I peeled off the 6 $100 dollar bills and placed them in the jar. I also slipped my business card with a note on the back as well.
Several weeks later I received a call from the vendor thanking me for keeping his faith in humanity. He had been vending at Hershey for many years and never had anyone stiff him.
It's always good to hear good stories of honesty. Sadly, there are stories of thugs out there. Many years ago at one of the Train Collectors Association meets, a guy had some very early tin litho pieces for sale on his table. There were two Mickey Mouse related items. Do realize to attend a TCA event, you must be a member or a guest of a member. The story goes the guy had his young son watch the table while he went to get a cup of coffee. He returned to find his son excited he had made a sale while he was gone. Two items, one marked $1100 and the other $2200 had been sold. A thug had came along and took advantage of the young boy and payed a grand total of $33.00 and never to be seen again!