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Researching & Preparing To Sell at Flea Markets

When you start out selling at a new flea market, ensuring you have the right merchandise and a great booth display is only half the battle! There is research and prep work you can do in advance to maximize your chances for success and give you a leg up on the competition.

  • Observe and take notes. Scout the market you're considering and look at the population, the products being sold and their prices. Make a note of the demographic you’ll be serving (useful for when you go source merchandise).
  • Note other vendors’ prices. Your prices always should be close to or ideally below the prices of your competitors, especially if there are many of you selling the same types of items. It’s also useful to find out if the flea market has restrictions on the number of vendors who can carry a particular product category.
  • Try to reserve a booth as close to the entrance as you can. Buyers entering and leaving the flea market will see your booth first and then again as they prepare to leave. The more visibility you have, the better! Alternatively, try to be near other booths or concessions that will attract the sort of traffic you want.
  • Pay for your spot in advance. Sellers all tend to arrive at the same time and stand in line for a spot. Maximize your chances of getting a spot in the best area by knowing whom you'll need to talk to and where you'll need to go.
  • Ask if the market provides any additional services to their vendors. Some provide a newsletter to their vendors with business tips, local auction dates and times, recommended places to buy products, etc.
  • Invest in a pop up shelter, as well as some good folding tables and folding chairs. Make sure you have some anchors (such as 2 ½ gallon buckets full of sand) to hold your shelter down if the wind picks up. Presentation is very important to buyers and will help increase sales.
  • Plan to arrange your merchandise in an organized manner. A messy selling area can take away from the value of your merchandise and turn potential buyers away.
  • If you need electricity, bring extension cords! Most flea markets have power outlets available but they are not necessarily going to be near your booth. You can often hook up to one of your neighbors' power supply if you bring your own extension cord.
  • Get an apron with pockets instead of a cash box. It’s really easy for thieves to up and run away with a box full of your day’s earnings. Use a fanny pack or an apron with pockets to stash your change safely.
  • Use a tote bag to assemble a kit of things you'll need such pens, pencils, markets, a notebook, price stickers or tags, extension cord, bungee cords, zipties or Velcro straps, safety pins, shopping bags for customers, wet wipes or hand sanitizer, tape, scissors, calculator, business cards, sunscreen, bug spray, aspirin/ibuprofen, a small cooler with water.
  • If you sell clothing, fashion accessories or shoes, have a full-length mirror in your booth. Don't lose out on a sale because a shopper can't see what she looks like in the coat she is trying on!
  • Bring more than you intend to sell. You may still end up bringing things home but it's best to have a variety of items always available rather than seeing your stand get depleted throughout the day.
  • If you can, bring someone with you. Not only will it be helpful for set up and tear down but it will also allow you to step away from the booth for a few minutes to see what others are selling at the market.
  • Make and bring change! Make sure you have all kinds of coins (especially quarters) and small bills. Many people are likely to show up with $20 bills and you need to make sure you don't run out of change in 3 or 4 transactions.
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