When: First Sundays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (excluding June-August.)
Where: 700 w. Campbell Avenue
Danny Ott began his speech: “Sometimes it appears I’m a flake, but between running a business, recording an album, kids in L.A. and kids here…” and then wasn’t allowed to finish. The several small business owners who attended S.A.M.A.’s General Meeting Jan. 26 already knew that story. “Come on, that’s all of us,” one shouted amidst heartfelt laughs and claps.
Ott and his wife Kristi opened Jane Mid-Century Modern Furniture last April and partnered with neighbor Kevin Lanctot of Modern on Melrose to launch what is becoming known around the valley as “The Melrose Swap-Meet.” The free Meet takes place in the parking lot of the Campbell Place retail plaza the first Sunday of each month. “This was a complete accident, ” Ott continued. “We were sitting around one day wondering what we could do for more marketing. We thought, ‘if we rent a billboard it’s $2500 a month and you only get to see it one way.”
The Meet, which Ott advertises on Facebook, has drawn mom-and-pop vendors and thrifters from all over the valley. He said over five hundred people came in January, and more than a thousand Superbowl Sunday. “We had no idea it was going to blow up,” he said. “People told me ‘you’re competing with Super Bowl and the Phoenix Open and I said, ‘so?”
Ott described the merchandise as vintage, mid-century oddities and vendors have sold pretty much you-name-it, from knick knacks and art, clothes and furniture. Previous Meets also included organic foods, a coffee vendor who sold out, and a hotdog stand. “It’s been wonderful,” he said. “It’s really based on community and small businesses that can’t afford brick and mortar retail space.”
Jake Ooley sells vintage leathers and clothing. “I didn’t know what to expect,” he said in January. “We thought we’d try it out.” Ooley operated Cellar Door Vintage downtown before rents priced him out. Now he and his wife sell online and set up shop in different locations. “(The Meet) has been reasonable,” Ooley said. “We’ll probably come back and bring different stuff each time.”
Theresa Montgomery is a real estate agent who lives in Mesa. She and several friends drove into Melrose. “We all decided a few days ago this would be a fun thing to do,” she said. “People ought to come out on a nice, sunny afternoon, get some good buys and meet interesting people.” Montgomery debated on a World War II era gas mask for several minutes before settling on a vintage radio.
“I thought it would be a little bit larger,” said Chavonne Domm, a central Phoenix resident. “When I think of a swap-meet I think of rows and streets shut down.”
Ott said food trucks may be invited in the future, and they may expand into Campbell Ave. For now, he doesn’t want vendors selling out of vehicles. He told S.A.M.A. he welcomes pretty much any product but will draw the line at tube socks. “I had a 74-year-old woman say “’I’m either good at art or everybody is full of crap. Either way I’m going to sell my art for art supplies.” There were several more laughs before Ott asked sincerely that no one try to sell anything illegal. Vendors can rent two parking spaces for $20. Though a business license is not required, vendors will have to sign a tax and legal liability waiver. Call Ott at 602-616-6150.