When we first got involved in the old-car hobby in 1972, we tried being a flea market vendor. It was a lot of work to load and unload the merchandise we were trying to sell. For the most part, sitting in a field or parking lot hoping for a sale was boring. To top it off, we never really made much money. We just weren’t that good at being a vendor.
It takes a special person to go to a large show such as the Iola Old Car Show, drag a lot of vintage tin with you, live in the heat and cold and rain for a couple of days and keep a smile on your face. We know many people who have done it for years and most of them are pretty good at coming up with things to generate laughs to break the monotony.
We had a couple of friends who hollowed out a battery and cleaned it up good. Then they put some type of liquid refreshment in the cleaned up side. They would sit at their booth with straws going into the liquid. On the other side they had a spoon with the bottom half eaten away and the handle protruding from the battery. When someone walked by, they’d stop sucking on the straws and say they were going to see how the acid had affected the spoon. Naturally, they then pulled out the damaged spoon and say, “Ah, the blend is just right.”
Another vendor had access to a golf cart, so he would put some worthless hubcaps out on a corner of his vending space. Then when some people came by, he’d act like he wasn’t watching where he was going and run the golf cart over the worthless hubcaps. Of course, the people would yell at him, thinking he was damaging some vendor’s valuable parts.
Still another vendor liked to tie a string to a $100 bill and drop it in the aisle in front of his vending stand. When someone stopped to pick up the bill, he’d pull the string and fish the money back in.
None of these pranks were done in a mean way, of course. It was all for fun and everyone involved would laugh as they realized the joke was on them. Swap meet vendors really are a special breed and a sense of humor is “standard equipment” if you want to be a vendor.