Sunday, February 14, 2010

Swap Meet Psychology

Swap Meet -- "a type of bazaar where inexpensive or secondhand goods are sold or bartered."

The reason for the definition will become evident in a minute. Jim and I attended the Twin Cities Bicycle Swap at the National Sports Center in Blaine. There were lots of vendors and the crowds seemed consistently heavy so hopefully, it was a success for the organizers. It was fun to visit with customers and friends and I came home with more cash than I went with and lightened the personal inventory a bit so I met my goals.

None the less, people's behavior and expectations at these events never cease to amaze me, despite having attended them for years. As defined by Wiki, the goods typically sold are inexpensive and/or second hand. Obviously, "inexpensive" can be interpreted a number of ways, but generally the items are used and sold for less than their retail prices. People's expectations are usually set at the point where they expect to get killer deals on used bike stuff and most are not disappointed.

However, given the breadth of bike stuff out there, many people simply don't know what they're buying. Well, well used mountain bike tires were being sold for $20. Many people were on the hunt for used rims. Seriously -- once most rims have been laced to a hub and ridden, they are rarely worth re-lacing again. People just seemed fixated on buying well used crap and ignored items that were priced higher but would probably serve them better.

I was attempting to sell some used Campagnolo cranks at what I know is a good price -- and was willing to haggle. A gentleman came by several times fondling them but he just couldn't seem to pull the trigger. On his last pass, he asked if I had the dust caps. Obviously, if I had them and they would have been installed on the crank arms. And those dust caps are worth more than the cranks themselves.

I also had for sale, a new old stock (NOS) Campy bottom bracket in the original box from the late 1970's. One of the local gurus's, whose knowledge of old bike ephemera is legendary, showed some interest in it and pulled it from the box for inspection. Apparently, what he saw was so unique that he borrowed the item and consulted with two other local gurus for a full 5 minutes. End result -- there was some question as to the whether or not what he saw was consistent with his encyclopedic knowledge of this particular item. Forget the fact that the item in question would be completely hidden within the recesses of the frame when installed and was offered at a good price -- it simply wouldn't do.

Oh well. It was still fun people watching. But seriously, the word in the Wiki definition should be spelled "bizarre", not "bazaar".



  1. $20 for a used tire?
    very well used? seems high to me?? LOL
    i bet you see all kinds at an event like this!!
    good time to sharpen your people/watching skills.

    Peace, Joboo

  2. I avoid going to swaps for this reason, basically. If you want a steal, those happen at estate or garage sales, and not all that often. At a swap, the sellers know what they have and what it's worth, usually. Sure, there's a bit of haggling, but no one's going to come down too far.