For most here at Eastwood The fall AACA Hershey swap meet has become a tradition to visit each year. The reality with Hershey is that if you can’t take off of work and come mid-week, you’re going to miss the REAL good deals. Heck, some of the best deals are scored by fellow vendors on setup day it seems! I decided to swing by on the first official day of the swap meet and see what this year had in store.
For those that haven’t been to this event let me be clear, you CAN NOT WALK THIS IN A DAY!! This swap meet is like no other you’ve been to, it’s a small city and you cannot possibly see every booth no matter how hard you try! Also make sure you bring a bag, wagon, or a bicycle with a basket to get around and carry your stuff easier. I don’t care how much you want to save your money, you WILL find something you need to buy while there! I made the mistake of forgetting my bag in the truck this year and I had to rush around to find a Hagerty Insurance tent to score a free tote to carry my smalls in.
The organization of the vendors at the swap I haven’t fully figured out, it’s really just first-come first-serve. I just know that the car corral surrounds the swap meet with all spectrums of cars for sale. Walking the cars for sale is pretty fun even if you aren’t in the market. I mean where else will you potentially see a Duesenberg parked next to an 80’s Fiero next to a 32 Ford for sale? This year was no different with everything from true barn finds drug out and plopped on the pavement to concours-worthy antiques being routinely dusted for potential buyers to admire.
Speaking of “barn finds” the fall Hershey swap meet is probably the king of rusty gold with patina-queen cars, trucks, and motorcycles displayed in every other booth. There were some pretty neat original vehicles pulled out and dropped in booths, some priced reasonably (usually snatched up and sold already) or priced out of this world for “the right buyer”. The truth is, you need to be a good negotiator to score a deal at Hershey as so many of these vendors have been doing this their entire lives and they can be tough cookies to crack.
One of the cool things about the Hershey swap being so large is that it really is like a treasure hunt, with some vendors setting up later than others, some bringing inventory out as they sell, and some just poorly displaying their items, you need to always be looking in the back of pickup trucks, box trucks, and under tables. I spotted the Indian below strapped in the back of an open box truck, just waiting for a new owner to spy it and make a deal with the seller!
If the rare parts game is your bag, you will see the most rare, collectible parts and auto memorabilia here. Sometimes the seller themselves don’t even know what it is, they just know its unusual and they put a price on it! If you know what the item is, you could score a great deal! I honestly couldn’t believe some of the new “NOS” (New Old Stock) parts that come out of the woodwork for this swap. Below is a set of NOS Offenhauser flathead Ford V8 heads in their original box still addressed to the original speed shop they were shipped to! For a cool $900 they could be yours.. a little too much for an impulse buy in my world!
If you’re not as diehard about vintage or antique cars and parts or if your other half doesn’t like the idea of you disappearing for 2-3 days in a car swap meet, there’s still things for anyone at this event. The Hershey meet has really morphed into an “anything old” swap meet with many vendors selling only memorabilia, or “stuff” from the era. I passed by many booths that were just vintage clothing and decor from the 20’s-50’s and others that just sold vintage bicycles, there really is everything old and interesting to be found at this swap! My vote for the most unusual was the vendor selling mostly LARGE items. With Bob’s Big Boy, Pep Boys statue, and vintage coin operated rides, they had some of the craziest big stuff at the event! Hope you brought a fat check book and a big truck and trailer to carry any of this stuff! I overheard the seller asking $10K for the Pep Boys statue!
All in all I saw probably about half of the booths and cars in one day and that was moving quickly and only stopping at booths with the real interesting stuff. I’d expect to spend a minimum of 2 days at the event. If you want the best experience I’d suggest a 3 day stay,using Thursday and Friday for swap meet browsing, and Saturday for the Concourse on the grass next to the swap meet. The show alone, due to its age, and being run by the AACA brings out some pretty high end cars!
The Hershey Fall Swap Meet is going Thursday (today), Friday, and Saturday October 9-11-14 this year still. Just put Hershey Park in your GPS and look for the signs to park and put your walking shoes on! For full event details visit: http://www.hersheyaaca.org/fm_schedule.html