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Citizen proposes a money-maker for Helper: swap meet

Sun Advocate associate editor

Charlie Jones has done some traveling in his time, and during the course of his travels he has noticed something other towns have that Helper doesn't.

Swap meets.

It seems odd to him that these open exchanges are missing from his town. "We are a swap and trade community," he told the city council recently, and he meant the whole of Carbon County, not just Helper.

Jones declared that the city could make some money if it agreed to host a weekly event. Not only would the city make some extra cash from space rental/temporary business license revenue, but those who take part would also be able to shop in stores or buy meals.

The gravel parking lot near the entrance to the Price River Parkway would work because it is close to Main Street and already has a permanent rest room in place.

The council was interested, but didn't jump on the idea all at once.

For one thing, there are other things going on in Helper during the summer that require the parking lot. The Arts Festival, for example, fills it. The pavilion is booked nearly every Saturday, too.

There are also questions of liability if the swap meet is held on city property under city sponsorship.

Mayor Dean Armstrong said the swap meets could make some money, but he had questions as to whether it would be enough to offset the added expenses.

But the mayor added that the meets could generate some significant revenue for a small group such as the Arts Council.

Ultimately, nobody on the council has any experience or expertise in running a swap meet. Councilmen Kirk Mascaro, Gary Harwood and Robert Bradley thought it would be worth exploring the possibilities, but that the concept needs more investigation before the city could commit itself.

It would be good to hear how cities with ongoing swap meets - Durango, Grand Junction and Cedar City, for instance - handle theirs.

Jones agreed to help with the research.

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