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Have you ever been to a swap meet in San Diego County? One of my favorite childhood memories is all of the weekends I spent at the Spring Valley Swap Meet with my grandfather back in the 70’s. After a stop at the local donut shop, we’d head out. Back then I was looking for stamps for my collection, while my grandfather turned into a MacGyver-esque character buying mystery items that he actually found a practical use for later. Nowadays, I hit the Oceanside Swap Meet for whatever strikes my fancy.

While most people are taking advantage of Saturday and Sunday mornings to catch up on much needed sleep, there are those intrepid souls who brave the early morning marine layer to hit the swap meet in search of collectibles, more practical wares, and produce. The Oceanside Swap Meet is open every Saturday and Sunday morning from 7am-3pm. On Saturday, the cost to get in is $1.00. Sunday, the bigger selling day, shoppers must pay $2.00 for buying privileges. Parking is amongst the old drive-in theater speakers and the sellers set up below the massive theater screens that are now permanently blank.

Some things have changed over the years like the addition of mini-carnival rides for the little ones. And much has remained the same like the competing booths blasting Hispanic popular music. The seemingly endless rows of sellers offer almost everything under the sun! One can find a vast array of new products including: t-shirts, socks, toiletries, CD’s, cooking equipment for restaurants, etc. For the treasure hunter, there are plenty of sellers with used goods: books, antiques, memorabilia, and your standard yard sale fare. Although not officially a farmer’s market, the amount of produce for sale each weekend is amazing. Dried and fresh peppers overflow next to freshly roasted peanuts and coconuts waiting to be cut for the thirsty patron. Bags of unusual dried pastas and beans are also available, as well as several types of bananas and cacti.

The Oceanside Swap Meet is really quite an experience. The people, the plethora of stuff, and the atmosphere are the ingredients for a fun, entertaining weekend morning. Be prepared for the weather change as it usually starts out chilly, but when the sun comes out, it gets pretty hot and feels hotter due to the tar paving. Bring a hat, a bag or two, small bills and change, water, and be ready to bargain!

The Oceanside Swap Meet 3480 Mission Ave. Oceanside, CA 92054 (760)-966-3160 http://oceansideswapmeet.com/

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