An entrepreneur’s ventures promise deals to local treasure hunters.
Sapulpan Jeff Schwickerath operates a flea market, an auction and a surplus business in west Tulsa. Swick’s Flea Market and Auction is home to Bell’s Amusement Park’s kiddie rides.
A treasure hunter’s dream lies just off Interstate 44 in a mostly industrial part of west Tulsa.
Swick’s Flea Market and Auction at 5802 W. 51st St. features more than 100 vendors and every item under the sun — new, used and “repurposed,” says owner Jeff Schwickerath. “You never know when you’re walking by something that might be worth a lot more than they’ve got on it.”
Schwickerath began haunting flea markets when he was 15 and was soon buying and selling for himself. At 21, he ran his first auction in Sapulpa.
But Swick’s is just the latest entrepreneurial venture for this Sapulpan. He first owned two other Sapulpa-based ventures — Schwickerath Furniture and a mini-storage business. However, when he sold the storage business, he signed a non-compete clause and began looking around for what to do next.
He opened Swick’s Flea Market in 2002. When he bought the property, “it was just a cow pasture,” he says. But he wanted something close to the freeway and easy to get to from anywhere.
“We’re just 10 minutes from downtown Tulsa,” he says.
He built the first pavilion in 2002 and soon added the second large building and the outside storage-type buildings in 2004.
Some vendors store their wares in the storage units and throw open their doors to sell to the public. Also, for $10, dealers can sell out of the back of a pick-up or trailer.
Customers can find anything from fishing gear to antique dishware, from vintage jewelry to new cosmetics to handmade dolls.
The other half of the business — the auction — runs every Saturday night from 5-10 p.m. and typically draws more than 250 people. Swickerath plans to soon expand seating for 500.
Some of the 300-500 items auctioned each weekend are new merchandise from major department stores, which sell for about half of wholesale.
“I’m not really sure why anyone pays full price for anything,” Schwickerath says.
Other things are highly collectible, like the nearly 100,000 baseball and football cards they inventoried for a recent auction.
Schwickerath also plans to experiment with Internet auctions.
“Bid from home and then pick up your stuff,” he says.
Additionally, he began working with Robbie Bell, owner of Bell’s Amusement Park, to revive that local iconic business on the Swick’s site.
The first rides opened in 2012 and five “kiddie” rides are open on weekends. They plan to expand this summer, adding a “Tilt-A-Whirl,” a small roller coaster, a Merry-Go-Round and two more rides, Bell says.
If all this isn’t enough, Schwickerath also owns
another bargain hunter’s haven, Swick’s Surplus, which offers closeouts on clothing, furniture, decorator and household items.
He’s one busy man.
The flea market is open from noon-5 p.m., Friday; 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday; and noon-5 p.m., Sunday.