Flea Markets vs Swap Meets

What’s the difference between a Flea Market & a Swap Meet?

Let’s examine:

According to many different definitions flea markets and swap meets are very similar concepts and according to who and where you asked this question you will be told is the same thing. Allow us to differentiate the two terms in more detail in this blog post.

Depending on your local vicinity and by region a flea market may be used as an interchangeable term for a swap meet. Meaning depending on the locale a flea market may regularly be referred to as a swap meet. This does not allow much room for disambiguation, so we are allowing the locale to supersede any of the examples on this blog post.


Definitions of Flea Market & Swap MeetFlea markets vs swap meets

By definition the flea market is a place that sellers organize within stalls to sell custom made goods, industrial goods and basically things that you can find inside of a retail store.

A swap meet by definition is a place that’s made up of several people who are usually trade items, usually in a themed fashion. When these items are traded different people often arrange them on the ground for viewing and will solicit offers to then trade with another person who has items to be traded.

Consumer (Local) Definitions

Flea Market

If you were to ask someone within your local vicinity what a flea market is they’d probably tell you it’s a place where you can go to buy things new and used from local sellers.

Swap Meet

On the other hand if you were to ask that same person what a swap meet is they may tell you something completely different. Why is this? We believe it’s because although the two terms are generally interchangeable, swap meet is the one that can be disambiguated from the other regionally.

See the Difference

Take a look at these videos and notice the difference between the two market types. Remember, flea markets are basically shops that sell on a fairground type venue whereas a swap meet is usually a themed trading process.

Swapmeet with Action Figure theme of trading items:

Flea Market type venue

Final Conclusion

    • The two terms in modern language are used almost interchangeably without any disambiguation.
    • Read the fine print before attend your next swap meet typed event.

For instance, a search of YouTube for swap meet will return videos that are no different than your local Flea Market. There is no trading of items, only selling – this by definition analysis is not a swap meet.


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