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Author Topic: What things should be sold at a hamfest?  (Read 26765 times)

Posts: 8

« Reply #15 on: March 11, 2011, 01:51:13 PM »

I saw my first CD player/car system at a hamfest in 1984 or 85 The fella had it in an old car with 15's mounted behind the rear seats playing the William tell overture and LOUD someone there had a holographic display , as you walked down the row of vendors it appeared as if an old steam locomotive was coming directly at you and got bigger as you moved closer . I say anything innovative also belongs at hamfests. 

Posts: 102

« Reply #16 on: March 13, 2011, 07:18:55 PM »


You can surely do it any way you want to do it.  I think what the folks are trying to get across is that you're likely to be more successful if you're more open to "different" stuff.  Unless you're getting the space and the door prizes and everything free, you've got to draw in enough people to at least come close to breaking even.


Posts: 372

« Reply #17 on: March 15, 2011, 01:54:18 PM »

My friend,

Old radios and such are fine if they are realistically priced and advertised.  I have no problem with someone trying to get as much as they can for their stuff, but its like old cars or old guns, the mint condition item gets more money than a rust bucket.  A lot of hams think that their stuff is prime when its not.  A lot of hamfest attendees are new hams or hams on a budget, they don't have a need for some radio that requires 15 hard to find tubes, a mic that no longer is made, and a power supply producing 25.4 volts that was made for this one radio and then never again.

So think about the audience you are serving, and consider what they are going to need.  Stock this kind of stuff, look for this kind of vendor.

Same with computers, some guys like old beasts for Linux boxes or other projects, I don't need one of those.  I am going to come to the hamfest, looking for a computer, find a bunch of X86 boxes or other very old machines and I will have wasted the morning.

If you have food, get good food and sell at market for the quality you are selling.   There is a hamfest in North Bend, NE that has a real cook from one of the local cafes making food there.  She charges real cafe prices, but sells out every year as the food to price ratio is OK.  No dollar donut scams, if you please.  If they cost $7 a dozen, don't try to make money off them.  Sell them for cost.  Oh, and remember that not everyone likes coffee.  Have some water or soda available.

Good luck.

Posts: 1

« Reply #18 on: April 06, 2011, 06:39:07 AM »

I absolutely hate seeing non-radio-related junk at a hamfest.  Toys, plastic models and tables full of 386 pc's running windows 95 have a place.. at a yard sale.  Not at a hamfest.

Posts: 347


« Reply #19 on: April 07, 2011, 02:22:43 PM »

Have the Hooters girls cater it?   And Im being serious, would bring a crowd in, like it does at Dayton. (i.e. the Icom girls, and NONE of them are hams, they are models).

Posts: 67

« Reply #20 on: April 11, 2011, 08:25:21 PM »

Hi Steve,

One thing you may want to do if you can before your hamfest is visit other hamfests in your area, see how they advertise, and see what is being sold, and how popular those ads bring in the crowds

Try and have at least two different commercial vendors that sell connectors, coax, antennas parts, and electronic parts and get those comercial vendors to commit and advertise on the flyer that those vendoers will be there. If you can get a vendor that sells new radios also, that would be great.

Some of the most successful and longest running hamfests advertise Ham radio and radio equipment only or Ham and computer fest. Take a look at Berryville's (Winchester) flyer here and Packrat's hamfest

Make sure you give out flyers at hamfests before your date, and check for conflicting dates with another hamfest. I've seen hamfests within an hour driving time on the same date, and the new or less popular one get no attendance.

Gerenally speaking, I'd allow any electronic equipment that is used for ham radio communications, or can be used as parts for ham radio projects. Why disallow CB radios when you can use the parts out of them for other projects? I've seen vendors in Maryland sell mobile and base CB antennas that hams grab for 10 meters and are happy to get them and not pay shipping. (yes I know you pay to get in but you help the club and most times it's way more reasonable than the shipping costs for an antenna)

Especially starting out, be at least reasonable. One thing you should stress is no "adult" products being sold. Some vendors used to sell that stuff years ago but they got the message it's not welcome for a family hobby.

good luck!

Posts: 5

« Reply #21 on: April 12, 2011, 07:35:57 AM »

I don't really understand KC9GMX's reasons for not wanting computer stuff there.  I think computer parts are part and parcel to any hamfest swap meet.

However there should be limits.  The last hamfest I was at, I guess I was just surprised by the amount of old junk.  I know that one man's garbage is another man's treasure, but geez.    Not everything that is "old" is "vintage."  Sometimes it is just junk.

Not even Goodwill accepts just any old computer anymore.  There was too much old PC crap (stacks of modem cards and thick clunky laptops) and most of it ridiculously priced. Sorry but your old bondi-blue G3 iMac just isn't worth $500.

Posts: 164

« Reply #22 on: April 14, 2011, 05:16:18 AM »

I've been to exactly two hamfests (FrostFest in Richmond, VA and the Timonium, MD hamfest). At both, I noticed things that *I* think don't belong at a hamfest, but your mileage may vary. I objected to the illegal CB radios and 11-meter 100w amps on general principle, but after reading the posts here, I realize that there *may* be people who can buy these and turn them into useful ham projects. I don't have that ability, but you might. The computer gear didn't interest me, and I found it annoying, but then again, I realize hams may put old PCs to use somehow.

I struggle to find the link between ham radio and scented candles, old cameras, and a "Dennis the Menace" tiddly-wink set (I AM NOT MAKING THAT LAST ONE UP, IT WAS AT TIMONIUM!).

If I ever set up a hamfest, I would be more careful what is allowed in, but that is a big IF, since setting up a hamfest is a lot of hard work, and for now, I will just attend others and maybe grumble a bit. Thanks to those out there that do the work and make the hamfests successful.

I do like the suggestion of dividing things up a bit like ham gear over hear, flea market over there, and food in the middle. Be sure to put the badge makers and call-sign clothing people in with the ham gear.


-- Tom

Posts: 40

« Reply #23 on: April 15, 2011, 12:51:26 PM »

I just wanted to report on how our hamfest went.
We had a hugh turnout given the number of hams in our region.

We almost sold out of tables, so the building looked full, plus enough outside tailgaters to make things interesting.

Over all, we had mainly ham radio related stuff. There was one guy outside who had some homemade wood shelves, but he also had radio stuff with him. Same with a lady inside, she had some paintings, but had radio stuff early in the day, but my friend bought the whole lot of radio stuff, and she was only left with the paintings.

I think I met my goal of keeping the hamfest 99% radio stuff.

The nice thing was, while we didnt have a new radio dealer there, we had enough tables with used radios, most of which were newer, so the new hams still had a chance to buy a not so old, but nice and cheap radio.

I will have all the details on the club website at the end of this month.

Steven KC9GMX

Posts: 372

« Reply #24 on: April 18, 2011, 02:41:20 PM »


Congratulations!  Sounds like you smacked the ball over the fence and then some.

A parts (powerpole, connectors, replacement antennas) dealer would be a good thing to add to the mix next year.

Posts: 2243

« Reply #25 on: April 22, 2011, 12:19:52 PM »

I would say ham-related vendors should get the priority if there's a conflict between him and a cell-phone, computer, perfume, leather, or beef jerky vendor; but that if you're big enough to hold all the hams and ham-related vendors and there's more room, you're better off filling the room with anybody at all than letting the space go un-used. 

Hams bring non hams with them, I like that there's something they could find interesting, and want to come back next time.

Don't let it go to your head.

Well said, I agree. If the non-ham items aren't interfering with things (and I can't
possibly see how they would except to annoy the "purists") why not?
What are we afraid of?
What is the HARM?

If you aren't interested in a table of homemade candles, or 386's, then ignore it.
Your XYL/GF might enjoy the handicrafts, etc, while you're digging
through that box of old tube sockets, or haggling for that dead TNC
that would make an excellent enclosure for your latest homebrew project.

And what's wrong with having computer games & CD's & things for children to poke through?
Are we becoming such insular curmudgeons that we can't exhibit a little bit of TOLERANCE
in order to have an event that we can bring our families to as well,
and they TOO can have a good time?
  Lord knows that in this economy we all work 
long hard hours with crummy commutes, so that when we DO take time out for recreation/a nice drive, we want to include our families.

Not saying the event should try to be all things for all people, no.
But if a ham seller's XYL also sells handicrafts, why can't she setup a table as well?
(Though I am partial to the "ham/non ham" items segregation concept)

A hamfest is just a flea market, with a theme.
Sometimes, sometimes not. WB2WIK makes a good point about well organized,
 larger hamfests having technical presentations and talks, demonstrations of new modes, etc.

Posts: 131

« Reply #26 on: April 25, 2011, 05:31:48 PM »

If you are at a HAMFEST & you come to a table or booth with ANYTHING on it that you are NOT interested in you can keep going.Just like if it's a piece of gear & you don't like it move on! With the TINY CROWDS at todays hamfest & swap meets MOST clubs will sell a spot for ANY vendor just for the $$$$$ so get ready for MORE & MORE of what YOU don't consider HAM RADIO RELATED items.Just like a SPEED BUMP,you will GET OVER IT& it's NOT the DEATH of HAM RADIO & the world will NOT come to an end because it's NOT what you like or would want to see so have fun & GOD BLESS! }:>)


Posts: 618

« Reply #27 on: May 04, 2011, 02:23:22 AM »

Just a reminder.  Older computers, 286s, 386s, up to the slower 486s can be a real find to those of us that restore and convert older commercial gear to the ham bands.  The software for those older radios will often not run on the newer, faster computers.  In fact, even the faster 486s get pretty dicey with that old software.  So, if you have old computers THAT WORK, bring them; they'll probably find a home.  But remember, finding parts for those old fossils is next to impossible, so if they don't work, take them to the landfill instead.

Posts: 1516

« Reply #28 on: May 07, 2011, 04:15:32 AM »

The most important thing for any new hamfest is to make a rule that there should be trading between sellers before the doors open up.

Most hamfests that I go to these days, the trading begins well before the public get in the doors. So when the doors open  up the people who pay the money  get the scraps and leftovers. Its really wastes peoples time and  ruins the reputations of hamfests as a drawcard for quality merchandise at a reasonable price.

This is the very reason that most of my ham friends dont go to hamfests anymore, they prefer to deal online. Unfortunately there are many professional dealers who make a living of buying up all the good hamfest stuff and resell it on Ebay or the next hamfest. This practice is ruining hamfests. You can see  the crowds falling every year at hamfests, its because of crooks and super dealers who clean the table before the honest ham even gets chance!


Posts: 719


« Reply #29 on: May 11, 2011, 06:05:24 AM »

Most hamfests that I go to these days, the trading begins well before the public get in the doors.

That practice has been going on for at least 20 years.  My "hamfest elmer" taught me (back then) that if you have a long shopping list, it's often good to get a small table just so you can enter the hamfest early.  That said, I know a few people involved in the "professional swapping" you describe.  Some of it is pretty disgusting.  That's why I always advertise my prices as negotiable.  You can usually tell who the sharks are by the way they negotiate.

The best deals I have done on radio and test equipment have been through my network of friends and colleagues, not through hamfests directly.  Although, I often arrange in advance to privately swap gear there.  I go to hamfests to tell/hear tales and buy items that are not available or economical to purchase in any other way.  For example, by the time you buy two or three small items from different vendors, the admission and gas will be less than the shipping.

From that perspective, hamfests should be events for hams that encourage a variety of loosely-related (electronic and computer) items for sale in the fleamarket.  But, of course, we have all seen irrelevant and disgusting things at hamfests...
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