How I Spent My Summer Vacation, 1998

And now, for something completely different! In previous years, my summer vacation article mentioned radios that I had bought while vacationing. We did take a summer vacation 1998, but I didn't come home with a single radio. There simply wasn't any time for shopping! Later in the summer, I hauled a load of radios to a local swap meet, which is the subject of this year's report.

If you click on any photo on this page, you'll see a larger version of the image. These snapshots were taken at the annual swap meet of the Puget Sound Antique Radio Association. The location was north Seattle, and the time was Sunday morning, August 16th. The next photo shows my selling space, shortly after I had unloaded.

The day did not begin well. It was raining so hard, in fact, that I almost turned around and went home. I had spent so much time preparing for the swap meet, however, that I decided to stick it out for a while. I'm glad that I did.

If you have never sold things at a swap meet or hamfest, you may not realize how much work it is to get ready. During the previous week, I spent a number of hours cleaning up the fifty-odd radios I had decided to bring, putting a pricetag on each one (including descriptions such as "works" or "electronics untested"), and carefully packing them into boxes for the trip.

The day before the meet was especially busy. In addition to the truckload of radios, I packed up a card table and folding chair to sit on. I also drove to a local rental place, to rent a couple of large folding tables. I also made some sandwiches and hauled out a cooler, so I wouldn't starve to death during the meet. And, finally, I brought along an armload of radio books for reference, as well as a small toolkit should I find something I wanted to look at more closely.

By the time I was finished, the truck was crammed to the gills and it was after midnight. The meet wouldn't officially start until 9:00 A.M. the next morning, but the organizer had warned me that many sellers arrived at the crack of dawn, to secure the best places. I resolved to get there no later than 7:30.

When I woke and looked outside the next morning, the weather looked awful. It was raining steadily, something I hadn't planned for. Rats!

I hadn't planned for rain, and this slowed me down. Rushing around the house, I located a couple of waterproof tarpaulins and threw them into the truck, along with some old towels in case things needed wiping off. Cussing at the bad weather, I drove off in the direction of the meet.

By the time I got halfway there, the rain was pelting down hard enough to slow traffic on the freeway. I seriously considered turning back. What if the meet had already been cancelled due to rain? On the other hand, it couldn't hurt to show up there, just in case the rain let up.

It was still raining steadily when I arrived. Despite the bad weather, there were already fifteen or twenty sellers in place, some of them completely set up. The good planners in the crowd had rigged up canopies or tarps on poles, to protect their merchandise and give shoppers some protection. Other folks had simply plopped their radios out in the rain.

With approximately one hour before the starting time, I wasn't about to haul my radios out to sit in the rain. I drove into a vacant space and waited, drinking coffee, eating a sandwich, and listening to the truck radio.

About half an hour later, the sky started to lighten, and the rain diminished. Maybe things would clear up in the for the meet, after all!

As soon as the rain stopped, I hopped out of the truck and began to unpack. If it started to rain later, I could use my tarpaulins to temporarily cover the sale tables.

The next photo gives another view of my table shortly after unpacking. The crowd was still sparse at that early hour, but things picked up considerably later in the day, especially after the weather improved further.

Although it was a long and interesting day, I didn't get any opportunities to take more pictures. I was just too busy! Almost all the time, there was somebody poking around through my radios, asking questions about them, or talking to me about my website. I had brought a couple of little signs giving the URL to this site, and I was surprised at the number of people who walked up to say, —Are you that Phil?—

Manning my table all day also prevented me from doing any serious shopping of my own. I did make a couple of quick circuits of the meet, but saw almost nothing that I had to have, especially since my goal in attending was to trim down my overgrown collection.

Only one item really caught me eye—a chassis (two, actually) that looked like a 25-tube E.H. Scott All-Wave receiver. You don't see Scotts that often, and they are high-quality radios. It looked fairly beat, but it would have made an interesting restoration project. Unfortunately, I didn't take a very close look at it during my first quick trip around the meet, and when I went back later, it was gone. Oh well, there's always another good deal around the corner!

The weather remained generally decent for the rest of the day, although there were a few sprinkles from time to time, making me glad that I had brought some towels to wipe off the goods

By the end of the meet, I had sold almost twenty radios. That's not as many as I had hoped—everything that I brought was disposable by definition—but it was enough to clear some shelf space at home. And, with a tidy little roll of cash, I could invest in one or two higher-quality radios, in place of those twenty cheap ones.

All in all, I'd call the meet a success. I unloaded some things I didn't need, and met some interesting folks. It's a lot of work to prepare, but next year I may just try it again.

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