The Ham Radio Flea Market is a great social event and place to find good deals on equipment and parts. You might even win a door prize.
Recently I attended a ham radio flea market in Calgary. We usually have two a year, one in April and the other in October. Most ham radio clubs sponsor at least one flea market a year. This fall’s event here was put together jointly by four groups: Southern Alberta Repeater Association, Calgary Communications Club, University of Calgary Radio Club and Calgary Amateur Radio Association.
These are probably the best attended events of the year. A great place to connect an entire community. Typical ham radio flea markets are multi-purpose events.
- Buying and selling equipment and parts. Many new hams get their first radio at a flea market. Quite a few old and newer radios change hands at good prices. Equally important is finding parts and test equipment. Hams usually stock up on hard to find parts for future projects and repairs.
- Getting information on local club activities. It’s a great time to find out what groups are active in your neighborhood and what they are doing. Lots of memberships get sold at the flea market. Inter-club rivalries are usually put aside for a day of shared interests.
- Winning a Prize. Entry fees are usually five dollars which cover costs. Vendors usually donate prizes. Your admission ticket enters you on some of the draws, extra tickets are available for others, such as 50-50. These events are fund raisers for the local clubs. Often, you can win a new radio, sometimes an expensive one.
- Continuous Learning. Most flea markets combine with a few presentations and seminars about interesting new developments and activities. The most recent event featured a presentation on drones.
Ham Radio Flea Market – A Long History
In the earlier days of amateur radio, most people built most of their own equipment. New parts were expensive. So hams started holding flea markets to share the wealth in their community. Sometimes they are also combined with auctions. In addition, many larger clubs hold a “hamfest” or “swap meet”. Same idea.
No one really knows where the terminology of a “flea market” comes from. They have been around for more than a hundred years, mostly as a bazaar for selling second hand goods. Some suggest the “flea” relates to critters found when you buy second hand clothes and blankets. No matter. We all enjoy them.
If you are interested, just do a Google search for “ham radio flea market”. Google will probably be able to tell you about the events in your home area.