It’s a Saturday or Sunday morning in Santee. Cars are lined up and down Woodside Avenue North along the 67 Freeway from 6:30am on. With the size of the crowd, it looks as if a celebrity has come to town.
If you’ve been in East County for some time, chances are you know all about this spectacle. If you’re not familiar, it’s time to introduce you to…(drumroll)...the !
With approximately 300 vendor spaces on site, the swap meet takes “window shopping” to a whole new level as you get to peruse through a myriad of items sold from fellow neighbors in the community. But not just any items—discounted items. Seriously discounted items.
Let’s say you want a pack of stickers for your next project. They’re here; only $.25 each in fact. Or how about a new aluminum water bottle? $1. Outfits to dress up your pooch, household medicines, antiques, computers, televisions, candy, plants, home décor, cars and tons more make the swap meet one giant bazaar o’fun.
You may work up an appetite from roaming aisle after aisle, but no worries, they’ve got that covered too. While a handful of vendors are one-time sellers, the food cart, conveniently and centrally located near the entrance, is a long-term vendor and can be counted on every week to offer sandwiches, drinks and goodies to replenish your bargain-hunting energy.
Glen Hamilton, Santee Swap Meet Manager, has been with the swap meet for the past 11 years and said it originally started only as the drive-in theatre. The owners then added “Swap Meet” to the sign and it has been operating as such off and on for the past 30 years.
When asked what they loved the most about the Swap Meet, the buyers’ and sellers’ most common response was: the people. Yes indeed, each aisle was filled with a variety of people…young, old, some in a hurry, some taking a leisurely stroll and some with their four-legged friends there for moral support. Hamilton shared that Sunday is generally the busiest day of the weekend as well as the first weekend of every month, which usually sells out.
So how does it work? Simple. If you want to clean out your garage and make some extra dough, you line up in the morning and pay either $20 on Saturday or $26 on Sunday. You then proceed to set up your stuff in your roomy 20x20 space, which is larger than most spaces at other swap meets. To set up an hour earlier at 5 a.m., you can pay an additional $5. Some sellers can even score some free promotion as Hamilton will regularly walk around the grounds and promote the items he sees over the intercom. Sellers are not required to stay for any length of time and can leave whenever they’d like to pack up and go.
For those who just want to come and look around, admission is $1 on Saturday morning and $1.50 on Sunday morning.
“Come and check it out one weekend, it’s a friendly swap meet and people help you out. I’ve had lots of vendors that just come out to look, and they’ve been permit vendors ever since,” shared Hamilton.
The Santee Swap Meet is located at 10990 Woodside Avenue N. in Santee and is open on Saturday and Sunday from 6:30 a.m.-2 p.m.