THE HISTORY OF SWAP-O-RAMA
“The flea market is bottom-line entrepreneurship. It’s basic business at its core.”
– Jim Pierski, Swap-O-Rama
The History of Swap-O-RamaSwap-O-Rama’s founder, Rex Meadows, came to Chicago from California in 1969 with the idea to open a flea market in the Midwest. It was not long before he opened his first location at the Double Drive Inn Theater at 2800 W. Columbus Avenue in June of 1969, and Swap-O-Rama Flea Market and Farmer’s Market was born. Soon Swap–O–Rama flea markets were opened throughout the Chicagoland area from Romeoville to Waukegan.
Between 1973 and 1986, Swap-O-Rama opened a variety of flea markets across the Midwest in Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin – as well as standing locations at Allstate Arena and Maywood Park Racetrack. In 1992, Swap-O-Rama opened “the granddaddy of all flea markets” at 41st and Ashland in Chicago, which is still open today. During the peak season in the hot summer months, the Ashland Avenue location sees over 20,000 people come through the flea market on a given weekend.
Swap–O–Rama has been around many years, and though the times have changed, to the people who run the company, it’s business as usual. They have held their ground throughout the changing of the cities in which they operate and the advent of new competition, such as Walmart and the dollar stores. Swap-O-Rama is a fount of interesting tales, having seen remarkable historical changes in their time, as well as more than a few unusual items sold at market.
Swap–O–Rama, the oldest flea market in Chicago, is known as “The First Name in Flea Markets” not only for their longevity, but for their good reputation and steadfast belief in free market enterprise. Swap-O-Rama currently has three Chicago locations in Melrose Park, Ashland Avenue and our Alsip location. Visit our “Contact Us” page for maps, hours, and directions.
Welcome to Swap-O-Rama, the first name in flea markets!