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RV’s & Empty asphalt


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I love Hershey.  I appreciate the myriad of details carefully planned, refined, and executed year after year.  I realize the world still isn’t back up to full speed.  And Saturday’s car show was spectacular.


Our icon is waning.  I’m 50 and I’m one of the youngest guys there.  I walked the swap meet Friday (que 10 responses telling me Friday is a weak swap meet day) and I’ve never been so disappointed in Hershey.  It was RV’s and empty asphalt.


It’s time to make some adjustments.  I think the correct “correction” would have been to keep the car show on Saturday on the grass where it doesn’t conflict with amusement park parking and switch the swap meet to an early Wednesday set-up, Thursday-Friday swap.


Here’s why.


I’m okay with pulling my kids out of school on Friday (Take a kid to a car show?  I bring all 3 of my kids!) so we miss one day of school but get two days of Hershey, one for the swap meet and one for the show.  Can I pull them out 2 days?  That’s going to be hard.  Will we drive the family from Pittsburgh Thursday night just for the car show Friday? I don’t know.  The 7 hour roundtrip is more worthwhile for two days of fun than just one.  


Cue all the “I’ll never miss Hershey” folks.  Look, I don’t want to miss it either.  But Friday’s swap meet was a joke.  Empty spot after empty spot.  At least 1/3 of my steps were wasted.  I felt bad for the lonely vendors with no neighbors… they had no traffic as everyone skipped their desolate aisle.  “It was great on Wednesday and Thursday!”  Awesome.  Let’s get rid of the dead day between the great days and the show, and encourage the synergies that make Hershey amazing.


“But everyone packs up Friday”… ahh, even though the swap meet goes through Saturday?  If everyone packs up Friday then Saturday is a farce, and really Friday wasn’t much better.  See, it is too long.


After what I saw this year, I’d think next year Tuesday and Wednesday will be busy in the swap meet, Thursday will be a pack-up day, and Friday will be a car show without kids and families.


That breaks my heart.  I’m not complaining.  I’m observing. And I’m suggesting.


My suggestions (and I realize those “in the know” are aware of far more parameters and limitations than I’m aware of, but I hope they’ll ponder these suggestions just the same) are to make the swap meet and car coral set-up as early Wednesday as people like and stay open for business Thursday & Friday.  Pack up Friday night; be gone by midnight.  Amusement park gets their parking.  Car show Saturday on the grass.


Next, Make a camping field. Discount it.  Incentive the old-timers who show up but don’t sell park their motorhome where we don’t all waste time and steps walking past it.  Offer “door prizes” to vendors still open Friday afternoon at 3:00.  $500 - $1,000 randomly drawn would be a heck of an incentive to stick around.


Hershey’s heart still beats, but it’s growing old and thin.  It needs condensed and refocused if it has any chance to survive.


Thanks for your consideration.


Edited by gpfarrell
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  • 2 weeks later...

I agree with you about the empty spaces and RV parking. I think the solution is that if you rent a space in the flea market that you MUST agree to stay until 3:00 PM the last day. No leaving early. If you do, then you don't get a space the next year. Next year, with the market opening on Tuesday and the the car show on Friday - venders will start packing up on Thursday morning unless something is done. 

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I suspect that the people who complain about RVs on vendor spaces have never actually spent a week vending at a show like Hershey or Carlisle. The reality is that for the casual hobbyist vendor, it is MUCH easier to have the camper right there at the vending spots. You can duck inside to use the bathroom without having to secure your merchandise. You can relax in the shade or out of the rain. And frankly, when you buy something, it's very easy to just put it inside. Having to walk to some remote camper lot and back to your vending spaces every time will get old fast. I agree, if someone is ONLY using spots to camp and not vending anything (or at least not seriously trying to sell anything), that's a waste of a good spot. For the rest of us, having the RV right there makes the week much more comfortable.

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I have been reading all of the posts regarding the lack of vendors in the field on Friday and Saturday and have remained silent. I have been vending at Hershey for over 25 years and it's the same every year. Very simple... If the customers were there on Friday and Saturday, so would the vendors. Saturday, with the car show going on, is a total wasted day for the flea market. You could shoot a cannon off and not hit a soul. Friday is almost the same. As I see it, most of the people that complain about the lack of vendors on Friday and Saturday are either working or at the car show. If you want us to stay for just one or two customers, ain't happening....



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I guess your location has a lot to do with Saturday sales. I'm in the Green Field area in front of the Giant Center and have been selling there since that field opened.  Our rows still had some vendors selling stuff in the morning. My take on it is there are a lot fewer vendors and less people walking around Saturday but more of them are looking to buy stuff. We did a pretty good business Saturday until the early afternoon. We sold much more than we expected to. I know I'm in the minority but I'm going to miss vending on Saturdays, weather permitting it was always one of my favorite days to set up. I don't know what all these changes will bring in 2022 but Saturdays were fun for us while they lasted. 

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My first Hershey as an adult was 1971. Went a few times with my parents in the 60s. In 71 the friends we went with didn't like getting up early and we didn't get there till late Saturday morning. There was a stead stream of vendors leaving when we went in the gate. In 1972 we got a space and have had spaces ever since. Until HERCO started making it hard, then impossible to stay over till Sunday morning we always did. We stayed open until at least around noon on Saturday until the last few years and I don't think we have sold $100 worth of stuff in all the years we were open on Saturday put together. We mostly enjoyed staying open on Saturday to see the well dressed car show people walking through the mud till they paved everything. 


Our problem has always been that when we have our flea stuff packed in the camper we don't have a place to sleep. We use to be 6 hours away now 8+ hours so if we stay to late on Saturday we have to either get a motel on the way home or find a camp grounds to unload and tarp then reload in the morning. Both cost much more than any sales we would make on Saturday. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

There’s not enough interest in the swap meet to sustain foot traffic for so many days… that’s why their are no shoppers and few venders on Friday & Saturday.  So don’t start earlier, start later.  Make the swap meet Wed-Thursday-Friday and car show Saturday.  Without Tuesday & Saturday, 3 real days of swap meet will be much better.


Actually, I have slept at swap meets before, in my Mercury as a matter of fact.  When you wake up to an area packed with vendors and shoppers, its awesome.  But if I stepped out of my sleeping quarters and saw nothing but vacant spots and the occasional motor home (with no merchandise; no bait to attract shoppers) I’d wonder why I bothered to come at all.


Hershey was beautiful and I love it. But I’m not 70 or 80, I’m only 51 and I’d like it to thrive for years to come.  Acres of vacant spots are no way to treat the shoppers, and fewer shoppers will be bad for the vendors.  It needs condensed.  Otherwise, everyone might as well set up tables in their driveways and garages at home.  


There’s no thrill in pacing empty rows in parking lots and that’s what I saw in October.  There’s even less thrill in driving out for a 1-day event, and pulling the swap meet earlier and holding the show on a school day/work day is an awful way to attract younger participants.



Edited by gpfarrell (see edit history)
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