Buying Computers In A High School Gym

My first computer show was in Atlantic City, NJ. You want to know how long ago it was? It was pre-gambling!

Since that time I’ve been drawn to out of the way… strange places… where computers are sold by the people who build them.

Over the years I’ve spent significant money in these computer shows. Mostly I’ve bought parts – little bits and pieces of computers. But I’ve also brought people to these shows so I could talk them through buying full systems (often assembled right there).

I’ve gone to them in school gyms, hotel ballrooms (and its adjacent swimming pool) racetracks and fairgrounds. If you had an unused, open space on a weekend, a show was going to take place.

The amazing thing for the promoters was, they could charge the vendors and charge the attendees! Yup, you paid for the privilege of buying.

Yesterday, my dad and I attended one not far from here and this might be my last.

We each paid $5 to get in. He bought some disk labels for $10 and I bought a very cool, lit, optical mouse for $8. The spark is gone.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately – it depends on which side of the table you’re on) most of what was only available at these shows is now available online and in brick and mortar stores. The prices online are cutthroat. The advantage of a local show is gone… at least to me it is. I saw nothing I can’t see here on my PC.

I was surprised this last time to see some software that was surely bootleg. And I looked at some merchandise that was more expensive here than elsewhere. In fact, when I got home, I bought two more mice for $5 apiece.

It’s a shame because there was always a bit of an outlaw feel to these shows. You were getting a real deal, buying from someone who was also getting a good deal because his uncle or brother or cousin lived near the factory in Taiwan or Korea.

Like I said, I’ll be surprised if I go back.

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