Stop, Swap & Shop (The Marketplace) is the work of Vaughn Wallace and his wife Jennifer. Wallace spent most of his life on the West coast, in California primarily, where swap meets are common. He fully expected to find a vibrant swap scene in the Twin Cities when he moved here over a decade ago.
"I was really shocked that Minneapolis didn't have one," Wallace said.
Since then, Wallace said he's always been tantalized by the idea of starting one of his own, but was caught up in a lucrative career, first in the gaming industry and then health insurance. Most recently, he worked for United Healthcare as a field network representative, a well-paid corporate position.
Then this past December Wallace ended up in the hospital with pancreatitis.
"It really made me re-evaluate my priorities," Wallace said. "I was worn down and I wasn't happy. I decided this was it."
In January, he quit. Shortly thereafter, he began to seriously consider his idea. Before long, Wallace and his wife had a business plan refined and ready for summer. Thus the Stop, Swap & Shop (The Marketplace) was born.
"The metro area should have one," Wallace said. "It really seems like something that could catch fire."
So what is a swap meet exactly? Wallace said it's a hybrid of the flea market, farmer's market, art show, trunk sale and urban street vending. Swappers can find fruits and vegetables, antiques, handmade clothing and jewlery, designer knock-offs, factory-fresh retail, or second-hand goods straight from a neighbor's closet. In California, it's not uncommon for people to buy even restored classic cars at a swap.
"That may sound strange but people do it all the time," Wallace said.
"They're a big industry out there," Wallace added.
Swaps in Santa Fe Springs and Orange County incorporate hundreds of sellers. For now, the Burnsville swap is going to be a more modest size. Wallace expects about 85 to 90 vendors to start. Booths start at $29 for a 10X10 space—the smallest, cheapest package available. The idea is to provide a low-risk, low-fuss oppportunity for sellers of all stripes.
"You don't have to make a lot of money, just enough to make the day rate," Wallace explained. "It's a social event."
Wallace said the event will also incorporate food (perhaps even Council Member Dan Gustafson's newest venture, ), music and other entertainment.
The swap meet will start up on July 7 and run each Saturday and Sunday through Sept. 3. Hours will be 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.