Tanque Verde Swap Meet Celebrates 40 years in Tucson

With 800 vendor spaces on 33 acres and over a million visitors a year, The Tanque Verde Swap Meet is the largest outdoor marketplace in Southern Arizona.

Tucson, Arizona – 2015 – We are celebrating our 40th birthday with two free festivals and activities all year. Join us on Festival days, April 11th and November 21st, for big name bands, prizes, children’s activities and rides, performances and big cash giveaways. Come on out any weekend and you may be surprised with a gift, free raffle or fun entertainment as the Tanque Verde Swap Meet celebrates turning 40 all year long.

So much more than buying and selling; the Tanque Verde Swap Meet is a community of hundreds of small, family owned businesses. Walking the Swap is a yard seller’s paradise, a trip across the border, a treasure hunt, a farmers market and a carnival all rolled into one. Throw in people watching, cold beer, festival food and two performance stages and you come close to describing the one and only Tanque Verde Swap Meet.

It was April of 1975, when Richard Chapin, working his way through his last semester of college, started selling handmade tables at the corner of Grant and Tanque Verde. With nothing but exuberance, a lot of promises and a maxed out credit card, he cobbled together an assortment of other vendors and the Tanque Verde Swap Meet was born. A few short months later the heat of summer threatened to turn his idea into a total failure as vendors and customers fled outdoor shopping in the hundred degree weather. Never one to give up easily, Chapin bought every strand of Christmas lights he could find and stayed open at night. Vendors and customers loved the new night time hours. With the Swap growing and thriving, Chapin turned to his family members to help manage the business. In November of 1975, the Tanque Verde Swap Meet became an official business and Chapin’s sister, Linda Fiore, became the President. Over the years, Chapin’s wife, nephews, nieces and children joined the business.

The Swap grew, prospered and became an icon in central Tucson. Then, in 1987, twelve years after Chapin first strung up his Christmas lights, the family was devastated to learn that their lease was not being renewed and they had 90 days to move or close. Knowing that not just his family but over five hundred other families made their living through the Tanque Verde Swap Meet, Chapin was determined to figure out a way to save the business. A true test of resilience, he managed to find and purchase a 33 acre piece of land, get it permitted, paved, install lighting and parking and move hundreds of vendor buildings, all in 90 days. The price was his life savings and every last penny he could borrow. The Swap’s future, in a little known area on the outskirts of town, was uncertain. His determination paid off as the community embraced the change and the new Tanque Verde Swap Meet grew into the vibrant, eclectic and thriving village that it is today.

More than just a fun place to bring your out of town guests, the Tanque Verde Swap Meet annually keeps hundreds of tons of used items in the community through local urban recycling and has had an economic impact on the Tucson community that is estimated at over half a billion dollars. Hundreds of small businesses operate successfully inside the Swap and dozens of local enterprises got their start as a simple booth at the Swap; including Mac’s Jewelry, Kent’s Tools and University Perfumes. In 1975 the Swap was a place where anyone with a dream or an idea could give it a try. 40 years later it remains just as committed to free enterprise and small business as when it first began.

Thank you Tucson!

Did you know?

  • We are a local family run & operated business since 1975!
  • We have licensed beer stands, a micro beer area, snack & drink carts!
  • We book our community stage every Friday and Saturday night.
  • We are a well lit and festive evening attraction that stays open as till 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
  • We pride ourselves on being a family friendly & safe environment.
  • We offer an amazing array of kids’ fun and activities.
  • We offer fantastic food from hamburgers to taco salads, pizza, fresh kettle corn and Eegee’s.
  • We offer many events throughout the year and partner with local organizations to serve our community.
  • Our rest rooms are cleaned continuously!
  • We have deputies, maintenance and security staff on-site.
  • We provide a place to recycle your goods into the community for cash.


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