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Annual swap meet satisfies nerds’ needs for collectibles

Jul 25, 2017 04:10PM ● Published by Travis Barton

Many toys were up for sale at the Nerd Swap Meet including large PEZ dispensers. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

Gallery: Swap meet for all things nerdy [4 Images] Click any image to expand.

Quinn Rollins affinity for LEGOs started in his teenage years and it hasn’t stopped despite being a parent with two children. 

“I didn’t have them as a really young kid and then as a teenager when I got into them, I didn’t ever get out of them,” Rollins said. 

Rollins was one of multiple vendors at Big Shiny Robot’s Nerd Swap Meet in June. It was the fifth such swap meet held by Big Shiny Robot and fourth at the Bohemian Brewery in Midvale. 

The swap meet serves as a chance for “nerds” come sell and purchase various items from LEGOs and Hot Wheels to comic books and Magic the Gathering cards. 

“What makes it kind of fun,” said Lucas Ackley, Big Shiny Robot co-founder, “is everybody’s got their stuff they’ve collected and inevitably most of us end up spending the money we make on the stuff we see here.” 

Big Shiny Robot is a Salt Lake City-based website with a noted podcasting network. It covers “nerd news,” according to the website whether it’s games, comic books or Star Wars. 

Through the combination of a Bohemian Brewery sponsorship and a need to discard lots of Comic-Con collected items, the swap meet was born. 

“And that was four years ago, and a lot of people showed up so we kept doing it,” Ackley said. 

Held in the parking lot of the Bohemian, beer and bratwursts were available adding to the laid-back environment. 

“It’s just a chill event for the community,” Ackley said. “For Big Shiny Robot, one of the big things when (co-founder) Brian (Young) and I started it was we wanted to build the community here and do stuff like this where you just show up and hang out and…have a good time.” 

It’s an opportunity to rub shoulders with people who share your excitement, Rollins said, that you don’t often get as an adult. 

“Honestly, a lot of us are introverts. We love our toys, our comics, our T-shirts, our stuff… I love my LEGOs, but other people love other things and I admire that,” Rollins said. “Wearing their passion on their sleeves, it’s a positive thing and it’s something you can’t always do at work or at home even.” 

At Rollins last count, he had more than 1,500 LEGO characters. As he’s grown older, he said his love has for them has increased. 

While his two boys, ages 12 and 15, will get LEGOs as presents. Rollins said he has a standing contract with them where if they don’t touch the toys for six months “the rights revert back to the purchaser.”

“Sometimes, I actually do that,” he said. 

His love for the toy has only grown through the years, especially now that he’s part of the Utah LEGO Users group. 

“Since joining them, I have become even more obsessed. It’s kind of a problem,” Rollins said.

While he sold some of his LEGOs at the swap meet, it also allowed him to find other items of interest. 

“It’s fun, I probably spend as much on other people’s stuff as I make,” Rollins said. He added he was eyeing some decorative couch pillows of Star Wars and Marvel Comics in the booth next to him. 

Ackley got some “Simpsons” figures and a Game & Watch Nintendo, while selling some comic books and graphic novels. 

“I think everybody here is a sucker for different things which makes it interesting. I’ve always been a sucker for old ‘Ghostbusters’ stuff or old Nintendo Mario stuff…the kitschier it is the better,” Ackley said. 

With plans to continue, Ackley—who had to turn down 10-15 vendors this year—hopes to keep it right there at the parking lot of the Bohemian. 

“I don’t see any reason to do it anywhere else,” he said. 

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