Santa Maria Sun / Art
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 15, Issue 16
Treasures abound at the Nipomo Swapmeet & Fleamarket
BY EMMA FUHS
As soon as visitors step out of their cars and through the bustling gates that mark the entrance to the Nipomo Swapmeet & Fleamarket, it’s apparent that there is something special about this place.
A safari-inspired train chugs along the perimeter of the swap meet, passing by a tranquil garden and festive, brightly painted buildings. The smell of freshly baked churros and sweet fruit cups waft on the gentle breeze. Hundreds of shopkeepers tend to their wares, ready to barter with passersby. The entire scene is strikingly novel.
Many people go to the swap meet for the experience, but even more visit for the wonderful deals available around every corner.
Near the entrance to the swap meet, a family-owned nursery provides visitors with a wide variety of plants, ranging from succulents and ferns to lemon trees and vibrant flowers. Nipomo’s M&A Nursery has been a swap meet staple for about four years, with family members pitching in to help out.
Those who work at M&A Nursery believe that getting to meet and talk to new people is one of the best parts of working the swap meet each weekend.
Retiree Bill Moldt has been a familiar face at the event for about four years, and has become invested in working in his shop on a weekly basis. Moldt’s particular niche offers a variety of eclectic items that can provide décor for homes or show support for a favorite sports team. His primary items for sale are an assortment of metal and wooden signs.
“Normally I have over 800 metal nostalgia signs,” he said.
The signs are made in Ohio, and feature a variety of fun images and catchphrases emblazoned across the front. Though they can be found at various local stores, the prices Moldt offers are unmatched.
Signs are available for $10 each, or three for $25. These bargains are a far cry from the average prices they sell for at other stores. For Moldt, selling his decorative items and collectibles is only one facet of the swap meet. More importantly, he gets to spend his retirement meeting new people and creating relationships with surrounding shop owners.
“I get to know them, and we become friends,” he said.
And as for fond memories of the swap meet, Moldt makes it perfectly clear that there are many.
“There’s the bad and the good, but mostly good,” he said with a smile.
Down the way, another quaint shop filled with home goods and an assortment of trinkets catches the eye of passersby.
“We have been selling at the Nipomo Swapmeet for 13 years,” said Marion Patterson of Ma’s Toys.
The retired special education teacher from the Lompoc Unified School District and her husband, George, operate their shop out of one of many units at the swap meet. Their space is packed with zany objects, including vintage lamps, ceramic cookie jars, and, as the name suggests, toys. Everything they sell is courtesy of generous donations from locals.
“There have been many wonderful surprises from very generous people,” Patterson said.
And all of their profits go to a worthy cause because the Pattersons donate the money they make to the American Association of University Women. Through this national organization, they provide scholarships for female students at Allan Hancock College. To date, they have awarded roughly 32 scholarships to deserving women seeking to further their education.
“Everyone who comes into our shop brings us joy,” Patterson said as a child approached her with a Buzz Lightyear action figure in his hand.
“We’ve gained a lot of friends,” she said.
She is sure to point out that the entire swap meet is always seeking to improve, and shop owners are very invested in providing visitors with the best experience possible.
Intern Emma Fuhs bartered with the best of them at the Nipomo Swapmeet. Contact her through Arts Editor Joe Payne at firstname.lastname@example.org.