This year, thanks to Bob Burdick, our venue at Hershey was expanded by two additional spaces adjacent to Bob and Jim's, creating 50' of sales frontage to entice shoppers to our WPRAACA flea market. In order to have enough junk eeeerr, "treasure" to sell we filled three pickups and an SUV with high quality, world-class automobilia. The ride to Hershey is now becoming familiar to me after three years and this time it was, thankfully, uneventful. Jim and Bob led our parade followed by Don and Gerry in Don's pickup, Dave and Tom in the SUV and I went solo. This gave me ample time for contemplating set-up strategies and sales tactics, none of which were actually implemented. Arriving at Manu's after a five hour trip (the motel is actually the Scottish Inn run by Indian folks) the sights and sounds were all too familiar. So long as you don't read the online reviews the rooms aren't that scary or bad and the drone of a constant parade of 18 wheel freight liners barreling down nearby I-78 reminds one of the plaintive chorus of spring peepers in heat tooting to perspective mates across the frozen swamp. Ah, blissful sleep! It also helped that no one reported any bug combat incidents in their room and no one imported buckets of Rhode Island bugs to scare fellow club members.
Directly across the street from the motel is the Blue Mountain Family Restaurant where we would eat every breakfast and dinner for the next 6 days. By the end of the week the wait staff is usually drawing straws to see who gets stuck with the Rhode Island guys. Every night room side chats ( which address ponderous subjects by the way) beers, and cigars, punctuated the epicurean meals at the Blue Mountain. We pressed restart every day at 6 am. It's all part of the our Hershey tradition and should be a bucket list item for every WPRAACA member. Going with friends is definitely the only way to attend Hershey. You get to share great memories, pool knowledge, share expenses and help one another to enjoy the spectacle. Tuesday brought us along with several thousand other vendors to the complex of show fields that comprise the event. The weather would prove to be wonderful for most of the week and, as usual, we started selling as soon as we started to unload the trucks. Sales for Bob and Jimmy started somewhat slowly but gained momentum as the week progressed. Dave and Don had modest sales and some major items unfortunately ended up coming home with us. Tom sold more than he thought he would and that made him happy because he was just getting rid of some useless "Chevy" stuff anyway. Gerry marveled at our efficiency and checked out the swap meet, car corral, museum and Saturday car show. I had the best sales year so far, largely because I had several nice service station pieces I had restored and priced competitively ( thanks go out to Bill Ricker for locating these items!). Surprisingly an offhandedly fabricated "fish" sculpture made from box wrenches and pliers attracted loads of attention and finally sold at near asking price. Inexplicably the primary way I sold stuff was by walking far away and letting Dave soft talk the buyers. Every time I returned he handed me piles of cash. Thank you Dave!!!
As usual things started to slow down on Friday and in the afternoon we scrambled to shut down the operation just ahead of a fierce, windy rain squall that slammed the area. Some concern ensued when we couldn't communicate with Dave who was long overdue from a judge's meeting. We finally caught up with him and put a somewhat damp lid on the final rainy hours of the swap meet. The pundits and magazine writers bemoan that Hershey is not what it used to be. Maybe that's true but it is still one heck of an event. Internet sales have clearly affected who comes and how prices are negotiated. Buyers sometimes argue that they can get cheaper prices online. Often they can but they don't get to view the item in person and don't get any information from a seller that often has an encyclopedic knowledge about their parts. In our group Bob, Jim, Tom and Don spent nearly as much time providing information to customers as they did selling to parts. Well maybe Hershey is going downhill and isn't what it used to be. In my view it still has a long, long way to fall before it becomes uninteresting or, at worst, unnecessary. Several thousand vendors, and a mile long car corral will keep it interesting for a long time to come.