Author Topic: The MIT Flea SwapFest Lives Again!  (Read 199 times)

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Offline W1RC

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The MIT Flea SwapFest Lives Again!
« on: April 20, 2022, 05:42:11 AM »
On Sunday, April 17th 2022, the Flea at MIT also known as Swapfest was reborn.  Thanks to Mitch, N2YIC,  Daniel, KC1EPN, Oliver, KM6WOX and several other dedicated volunteers the famous Boston area electronic flea market that ran for 35 years now lives again.

Schedule for 2022 is:
May 15
June 19
July 17
August 21
September 18
October 16

Started in 1985 by Steve Finberg, W1GSL, SK, "the Flea" reached its peak in the 1990s but was still going pretty strong despite the ongoing loss of real estate where it could be held as many MIT parking lots were turned into buildings.  The 2020 and 2021 seasons were canceled due to Covid-19.  Unfortunately, Steve became a SK in April 2021 taking with him many of the operational secrets so the Swapfest had to be pretty much reinvented.  Mitch, N2YIC, a close friend of Steve and a long-time MIT staffer, along with a recent graduate, Daniel, KC1EPN, recruited some of the students who are licensed to bring back the flea.  A freshman from California, Oliver, KM6WOX, offered to run the flea and soon found himself the Swapfest team leader.

I have been attending and enjoying the Flea since the 1980s and I immediately offered whatever assistance and support the NEAR- Fest team might be able to provide.  Our first in person get-together took place at the Algonquin Club flea market in Marlborough MA in February 2022.  Ironically it was Oliver?s first time at a flea market and it was pure pleasure watching him take it all in, almost in shock at what he was seeing.  He was hooked. 

I,along with NEAR-Fest's reknown Sergeant-at-Arms Paul, W1PRA, joined Oliver, Mitch and Daniel on a Zoom conference call where we offered whatever services we felt were needed to get the Flea going again. 

Despite the fact the first Swapfest fell on Easter Sunday turnout was excellent.  The team was well organized and the parking garage was ready for the vendors who were lined up outside.  They opened up for the prepaid vendors pretty much on schedule and the ingress of vendors went very smoothly.  Mitch presented Oliver with a straw cowboy hat much like the one worn by Steve for all those years which became instantly recognizable as his badge of office.  Once the vendors were inside I conducted a brief training on enforcement.  Three volunteers and I went through garage where I showed them how to inspect the vendors passes and make sure their passes matched the number of spaces they had occupied.  Several additional seller spaces were sold without much opposition and the three learned the lessons well. They will be fine doing enforcement starting next month.

And yes, there was LOTS of good "stuff" and it was cheap!

Here is the famous and now very familiar flyer: https://web.mit.edu/w1mx/www/swapfest/swapfest-2022.04.pdf