There used to be a swap meet in Santa Ana, many years ago, that was held at Eddie West Field. That was a long time ago but the City of Santa Ana is broke now and our city would greatly benefit from having a Swap Meet once again.
I found an old Los Angeles Times article about the shut down of the old Santa Ana Swap Meet that noted “Outdoor swap meets began to fall out of favor in the city in 1987, when it shut down a popular swap meet held at Eddie West Stadium after receiving complaints from neighboring homeowners about excessive trash and noise.”
That article also cited a Santa Ana Planning Agency report that stated that “outdoor swap meets in the city have historically resulted in parking problems, theft, noise, trash and “neighborhood intrusion” by swap meet customers.”
I think we know by now that what happened in 1987 was probably more of a racist reaction to the Swap Meet than anything else. Remember back then the folks running the City of Santa Ana, including most of the appointed and elected officials, were white. They were for the most part very uncomfortable with the city’s growing Latino population.
Today Santa Ana residents have to drive to other cities to participate in Swap Meets, including Santa Fe Springs and Costa Mesa.
Besides possibly generating income for the City of Santa Ana, it turns out there are other benefits too such as:
- Swap Meets can help residents to learn how to develop and grow small businesses. I am reminded of a friend of my son, when they were both at Godinez High School, whose father sold shoes at the Costa Mesa Swap Meet. That fellow raised his family with that income! He would go to the garment district in Los Angeles, buy the shoes at wholesale, then sell them at the Swap Meet at good prices but with enough of a mark-up to raise his family.
- Swap Meets are great incubators for residents interested in food-related businesses. They can sell their homemade foods there, such as baked goods or tamales, and figure out how to progress to a larger enterprise such as a restaurant, food truck or catering business.
- Swap Meets celebrate diversity! Imagine how awesome a Swap Meet in Santa Ana would look like now with Latino, Asian and African American vendors that reflect our community today. The food offerings alone would be incredible!
- Swap Meets keep stuff out of our landfills. Remember, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!
- Swap Meets allow folks with limited incomes to buy neat stuff at much lower prices than the stores – including used items that are still in good shape.
Isn’t it time to launch a new Santa Ana Swap Meet already? Orange Coast College has one in Costa Mesa. Why not Santa Ana College too?