There was a time where you could regularly find local swap meets to pick up computer hardware, ham radios, and other tech gear at the sort of cut-rate prices so often produced by a sense of camaraderie. But with the rise of websites like Craigslist and eBay, meeting up in person to buy and sell used hardware started to fall out of style. The fact that the prices had to go up due to the considerable cost of shipping such large and heavy objects was an unfortunate side-effect, but it wasn’t enough to stem the tide.
It’s unlikely that we’ll ever truly return to those early days. But if you’re within driving distance of Wall, New Jersey, you can take a step back in time on Saturday and experience a proper swap meet in all its glory. Hosted by the Vintage Computer Federation, the modest $5 entry fee goes to help support their worthy goal of preserving vintage computing history. After the swap meet officially wraps up at 2 PM, a short walk will take you over to their permanent exhibit located within the sprawling InfoAge Science and History Museum.
I was able to visit the inaugural VCF Swap Meet back in 2021, and came away with a sense that this event had a bright future. At the time, the idea of holding an “old school” outdoor swap meet was born out of necessity — New Jersey’s relatively strict limitations on indoor gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic made anything else largely untenable. But the response was so great that the VCF wisely decided to keep it going in post-pandemic times, and the event has only grown since then.
This year, due to popular demand, the Swap Meet will feature food and drinks for purchase thanks to the South Monmouth Fire Museum — another worthy cause that’s currently working to establish their own presence within the InfoAge campus.
Whether you’re in the market for some vintage gear, want to support a good cause, or wish to explore the wide array of tech and history exhibits located within the former Camp Evans base, this is the perfect weekend to take a drive out and experience everything this unique little niche in the Jersey Shore has to offer.