Owen Gomez originally started selling his own toys at the Saugus swap meet nine years ago, wanting to be like his uncle who also sold at the swap meet. He eventually fell in love with the atmosphere and continued to attend the swap meet as a seller.
Every Sunday, Gomez, his mom and sister wake up early to set up their booths at the swap meet. At 20 years old, Gomez sells a variety of collectables such as Funko pops, Pokémon cards, anime figures and sports flags.
This has been his Sunday routine for the past nine years.
On Aug. 21, Gomez enjoyed dinner with his family after the swap meet and went to bed early at around 7 p.m.
The next day he woke up and left for work, but one thing was missing – his van filled with approximately $8,000 worth of merchandise.
“It threw me off guard,” said Gomez. The van had some prior mechanical issues, so Gomez figured that one of his parents must have taken the van into the mechanic. While he was at work, he got a call from his mom saying, “The van is missing.”
“The only thing that I thought (about) was all merchandise and everything that I worked for throughout the years, saving up, investing,” said Gomez. “You spend so much time and effort. My weekends, me being young, I would always just say to my friends whenever they wanted to go out, ‘Oh I can’t, I got work the next day.’ It just really hurt.”
Gomez’s van was found and returned to him on Aug. 30 by the Torrance Police Department. Everything inside the van was gone, including $7,000 worth of his sister’s merchandise.
“It just made me happy that my mom was all relieved about finding the van again,” said Gomez. Gomez’s mother was the one who helped the siblings purchase the van and make payments for it.
Many of Gomez’s friends urged him to make a GoFundMe page to raise money to replace the stolen merchandise, but he was hesitant at first.
“Personally, I don’t like being handed money like that,” said Gomez. “I like to work for what I want but friends and family (told) me, ‘It’s not like that. People that donate want to help you out, not everyone’s gonna want to donate but the people that do they just want to make sure that you find yourself back to where you were.’”
Pushing aside his hesitation, Gomez set up a GoFundMe page with a goal of $5,000.
Gomez hopes to return to his Sunday routine and rejoin the atmosphere that he loves so much, with the people he cherishes.
“We’re all just very hard workers throughout the week and that’s pretty much our only free time to get in,” said Gomez. “What’s a better way to spend time together?”
To donate to Gomez’s cause, visit bit.ly/3cJtuBO.