The Silicon Valley Gadget Swap


What you see in the image above is a nook between two walk-in closets in my bedroom. This is where I keep my extra gadgets. Some I use or try semi-regularly, but most just sit in there, waiting for a day when I finally get a chance to put them all on eBay or Craigslist and get rid of them. But let's be honest... that day will never come.

So I had an idea - what if there was a 'swap meet' that was dedicated to nothing but used, but still recent, electronics? You'd think there was something like this already, right? Well, there is, sorta. The Electronics Flea Market is held at DeAnza college on odd Saturdays during warm months. I could bike to DeAnza, it's so close, but I've yet to actually make it because it seems so randomly scheduled, and is held in the morning, which is not my thing. Buyers can go free, but if you want to sell something, you need to pay $20 and sell out of the back of your car.

Well, that's not really what I'm thinking about at all. That's basically a traditional flea market for electronics junkies. Which is fine, but I mean, it's *really* old school, with 'talk-in' short radio codes at the bottom of the 1990s designed web page. But hey, just practically, I don't really have enough stuff to bundle it all up and open a stand. I've got a couple dozen gadgets that need a better home. Some are still worth some decent cash, others really don't have value at all and are getting harder to get rid of all the time. Have you looked at Gazelle lately? They've gone from buying pretty much any recent gadget to only buying the absolute most popular mobile phones and tablets (read: Apple devices and a few recent smartphones).

In that picture above, I have an HP Mini netbook, Lenovo t3 netbook convertible, Google Chromebook, Sony Vaio Core 2 Duo laptop, Roku HD media streamer, Caanoo game console, Onlive console and controller, Nintendo DS Lite, DSi, 3DS, Archos 5" tablet, Nexus 1, Nokia: 770, N900 (2), N810 (2), 5800, N81, N97 (2), E65, E75, N-Gage (plus games), Lumia 800; iPhone (original 4Gb), Samsung Focus, Motorola Xoom tablet, Kindle Fire, Kindle, Nook Color, Samsung Galaxy Tab (7" Sprint model), Apple wireless keyboard, HP wireless keyboard for TouchPad, a pair of extra Bose speakers and probably quite a few more pieces of electronics that I overlooked.

That's a lot of un-used gadgets sitting over there. Most were purchased and used to develop, learn from or actively use at some point or another (except for the Galaxy Tab which I accidentally won at my kid's school auction - long story), but time has passed and I've moved on to newer devices. I can't be the only one with a closet like this, especially here in Silicon Valley. Yes, there's lots and lots there that'll never be useful again to most of the known world (N-Gage?), and some stuff that might be useful this year or next, but is aging quickly. But still, there's got to be *some* value in that stuff no? I'm sure there is. If you read that list and any one of those things popped out at you as something you'd like to have, then hey, that's value.

Can you imagine how much work it would be to list all that stuff on eBay or post it on Craigslist, though? Oh my god. The scammers would flood my email, and everyone else would just ignore or miss the listing. Even if you did find a few buyers, you'd have to actually box and ship all the crap, wait for payment, etc. etc. Bleh.

So here's what I envision - rather than holding a usual swap meet at a random parking lot early on some Saturday morning, I imagine a decent conference room at some hotel, open during reasonable hours - like in the afternoon or evening. With free WiFi, coffee and lots of tables and seating and plugs. And everyone pays like $5 or $2 or whatever, rather than just the $20 for sellers. Geeks could then just show up with their box of used gadgets, grab a table and set up a small shop. There'd be an ATM machine nearby (like in the hotel lobby) and maybe someone could be there with a Square credit card reader for the bigger transactions. Not sure about what the going rate for a circa 2006 Nokia Web Tablet? Look it up using the WiFi...

And hopefully, there'd be actual swapping going on: "Hey! I'll trade you this 2009 Android device with a keypad for your N810, deal?" It'd be like Gadget Trading Cards - gotta collect the whole set. Do *YOU* have the full range of iPhones? What about 2003 era Treos? This could be a thing! And I'm sure there'd be more than a few instant purchases as well, "Aww, man! An original Nokia 770?! I wanted one of these back when!" Finally, of course, there'd be an electronics recycling bin outside for those gadgets that didn't make the cut - it could go to charity or something.

What do you think? Huh? Good idea? Does this already exist somewhere? Not only haven't I heard of it, I also just did a search and didn't come up with anything, but who knows. I totally would love to see this. This would be great as a regular thing, no? Geeks could jump in their Teslas and drive around on Sundays, popping into various Gadget Swap Meets all around the Bay Area seeing what good stuff came up. I'd be great!


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