The last time I went to the Swap Mart at Karrinyup, it was about twenty years ago and I was trying to make a few dollars selling some old toys I thought I no longer wanted. Years later, I can see that the Barbie collection I sold that day would be worth a pretty penny, not to mention my daughters probably wish I still had them. Still, decades on, it's reassuring to see kids still trying to make a quick buck at the Swap Mart.
Who doesn't get a little weak at the knees at the thought of a swap mart?
The Rotary Swap Mart is one of Perth's biggest and best. It has moved from its previous home in the Big W carpark and is now held every Sunday under cover at the north-east corner of the shopping centre (the David Jones end). With its $1 entry fee going directly to the Rotary Club of Scarborough, it is a major fund-raiser for this excellent charity, and you are almost guaranteed to bag some bargains, no matter what your predilection.
With at least 80 stalls selling a range of second-hand goods, you will find something to please whether you are after cheap books, kids toys, clothes, plants, knick-knacks or kitchenware. Everything is second-hand, no new goods allowed.
There were plenty of stalls selling women's clothes and shoes so whether you're looking for party shoes or wellies you will be taken care of. There is a dearth of change rooms though, so you'll just have to hold them up and imagine what they look like on.
Kids clothes and toys are another big seller. Everything from Barbie dolls (not mine, I checked) to baby toys, bikes, trucks and dolls. I bought this excellent truck for my truck-man nephew, so when he comes over he has something to play with other than dolls and Dora.
I was impressed by the entrepreneurial kid who was trying to sell $1 rides on her pink scooter. She whizzed up and down the aisles calling out to potential customers. I'm not sure how many takers she got, but I hope she made a few dollars at least for sheer alacrity.
The very nature of swap marts means every week is different, so it's best to go with an open mind and an open wallet (cash only, obviously). The day I visited, there were a few more professional-looking stalls set up selling vintage jewellery and goods, someone trying to sell original, hand-painted artwork, some curious wooden stools, vintage tools, bits of bikes and plenty of DVDs. If you want to check a piece of electrical equipment works, there is a power outlet near the food van, which might save a few headaches.
The food van sells coffee and breakfast (sausage sizzle, bacon and egg rolls) and even Milo for the kids. Even if it rains, you're undercover, and if you hang around long enough and still have money to burn, the shopping centre opens at 11am now with the advent of Sunday trading.
Sellers are permitted from 6.45am at the cost of $10 per bay (cars can queue from 6am). Buyers are admitted from 7.30am for $1 (kids are free) with the swap meeting closing strictly at 10.30am.