Yuma Swap Meet closes as DHS looks to expand border patrol facility

The Department of Homeland Security is looking at two properties for a new migrant processing center and one of them is home to the Yuma Swap Meet.
Published: Oct. 4, 2023 at 3:37 PM MST
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YUMA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — The Yuma Swap Meet, one of Yuma’s biggest attractions, says they won’t be opening up in November as planned because they’re looking for a new location. “When we first learned that the Border Patrol was interested in acquiring the property, we were a little shocked and a little sad, but we understood,” said Bill Gresser, Yuma Swap Meet president.

Gresser said the property has not been officially acquired yet, but it is moving in that direction. Vendors were told to pick up any belongings they had stored at the swap meet. “So rather than have them come out for a very short period of time, we felt it was important to say to them, we think this is going to happen,” said Gresser.

The Department of Homeland Security has been looking to increase capacity for migrants in Yuma for some years now. DHS expressed interest in two properties to expand their facility, one of them being the Yuma Swap Meet, which is adjacent to Border Patrol’s headquarters in Yuma.

For over 60 years, the Yuma Swap Meet has been a place for families to enjoy the weekend and a place for people to start their own small businesses. Gresser said they have over 350 vendors each year. The swap meet usually starts in November and runs until April or May, depending on the weather. He said on a good weekend, the swap meet sees up to 10,000 people.

“It’s pretty sad, really. This is a community thing. A lot of people from town come here,” said Armando Carrillo, a vendor. Carrillo said it would have been his fifth year selling at the swap meet. He and his brother have a space there and sell video games, and anime merchandise. He feels for his neighbors who are packing up for good. “This is a big source of money for people. A lot of people live paycheck to paycheck,” he said.

“I have another job, but with inflation and the cost of living, this has been a good way to make some side money,” said Carrillo. Since the news broke out, vendors could be seen packing up what’s left of their space at the swap meet. Some vendors said they had already made moves to sell at another swap meet in town called Arizona Marketplace.

One vendor said it was a smaller swap meet but is hoping her clients will look for her there. Gresser said he feels for his vendors, who are like family. He said it won’t be the end for the Yuma Swap Meet. “On the other side of the coin, it’s an opportunity to find a new, perhaps better location,” said Gresser.

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