How to Get Started

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First, you'll need choose where to sell your stuff. So start determining how much space you'll need and what kind of market you'd like to sell at.

Go visit

One of the best ways to decide if a certain flea market is good for you is to actually go and visit. Pay attention to the type of products other vendors are selling and get a feel for the type of customer that attends the market. You'll also get to see how the booths are set up so you can decide what kind of display items you'll need like tables or racks. You can also talk to the management if you have any questions about space rental.

Ask questions

You might also want to consider the following questions when choosing where to sell your flea market items:

  • How many customers attend? Knowing the amount of traffic to expect will help you decide the amount of stock you will need to bring and whether it will be worth your time. Some vendors only like to participate in larger shows, and some prefer small shows.
  • Is the market indoor or outdoor? Preparing for an indoor show vs. an outdoor show is very different! Does your product do well in all sorts of weather? If it's outdoor, do you have the necessary supplies (i.e. pop up canopy, and tarps)
  • What type of items are usually sold? Sometimes markets and fairs are geared towards one product genre. 
  • Is it well advertised? You'll know that the organizers put a lot of effort into advertising when...
    • You see posters or flyers around town
    • There are ads in the local newspaper or online
    • The organizers have created a public Facebook event for the show and post regular updates
  • Is there an informational page with rules and regulations? This will be a great resource to you as you prepare for what to bring.
  • Where is the show located? Do some research on the venue's location. Is it in a city or town that gets a lot of traffic? How accessible is the venue and how easy is it to find parking?
  • Would other vendors recommend it? Vendors love to offer advice and share their experiences. They can tell you if a market is a success or a total flop, plus offer some good advice.

Once you've decided on a market to set up at, try to reserve your space right away. Usually, they will have some sort of vendor application to fill out, or you could call or visit the flea market's office for more details.

What to Sell

Flea Market Vendor

Some vendors start by cleaning out garages or attics and selling unwanted items. You could also check newspaper listings for auctions, yard-sales or store close outs for items to sell at flea markets. There are also a variety of vendor trade magazines if you'd like to sell wholesale items

No matter what you choose to sell, you'll want a product that attracts your ideal customer, stands out in a crowd, and most importantly, is profitable.

How to choose the right product

To start, if you already know the event where you’ll be selling, let the nature of the venue give you the direction on what items to sell. The better your stuff fits in with the show’s theme and its customers, the better you’ll do as a vendor.

However, if you don’t know where you’ll be selling or if there is no particular theme to go off of, you can start choosing what to sell now by asking yourself this question: “Do I want to make my own products or be a retailer?”

Find your “Thing”

One of the most important aspects of being successful at a flea market (especially a large one), is standing out from the crowd. As flea markets, craft fairs, and vintage shows get more popular, the competition grows, and the ability to get remembered by customers gets more difficult.

Just think, at the last pop-up market you went to, how many vendors were there selling soaps? What about jewelry or signs? Do you remember their business names or a unique differentiator about their products?

As employees who work in the office at the Midwest’s Largest Flea Market, we get a lot of questions from customers who are looking for “that one vendor.” Our worst nightmare is when the shopper asks for “that one vendor who sells the clothes.” If the description of the products is unrecognizable, the display isn’t anything unusual, or they don’t have a memorable business name, it’s pretty difficult to help the customer find what they are looking for.

On the other hand, if someone were to ask us where to find “The lady who sells the giant underwear” or “the licorice guy” we’d know right where to send them!

Finding a niche in your products can help you make more sales, become ‘THE’ vendor whom customers come back to, and it will give you a competitive edge. So, go out, start brainstorming, and get creative!

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Pricing Your Products

Selling at Flea Market

Maximizing profit and maximizing customer satisfaction is the bread and butter of selling at flea markets! Use these tips to start a solid flea market pricing plan.

Pricing Considerations

  • Location - What type of market are you selling at? Most shoppers come to flea markets to look for bargains and deals, so you may want to lower your prices to be able to sell.
  • Your Ideal Customer - Try to create a profile of your ideal customer so that you can easily make business decisions. Think about who your ideal customer is. What is their gender? Age? Occupation? Interests? How much are they willing to spend on your type of product?
  •  Your Competition's Prices

Pricing Formula

Start by listing out your expenses (cost of material, cost of labor, office / work space rent, gas or transportation, cost of selling at flea market, packaging).

Although there are many pricing options and formulas you can try and use, this one will give you 75 percent profit. The profit should be able to pay for your expenses, plus more.

Materials + Time = Your Cost

Your Cost x 2 = Wholesale Price

Wholesale Price x 2 = Retail Price 

Preparation

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The best way to ease your first-time vendor anxiety is to be prepared

  • Visit Ahead of Time - Get ideas on set-up, take a look at the market's layout, and talk to some of the vendors who are there.
  • Fill Out the Paperwork - Does the marketing have an application and information sheet? Most places will also require a tax identification certificate.
  • Make a Packing List - Begin jotting things down that you will need to sell at the flea market. Download flea market packing list

Booth Display

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What's going to draw customers into your booth? Think product along? Think again!

A good flea market booth display will give flea market shoppers a reason to come in. Here are eight booth display tips every vendor should know.

  1. Determine Traffic Flow
  2. Use Your Best Pieces
  3. Keep out the Clutter
  4. Use Varying Heights
  5. Consider your Product
  6. Keep it Well-Stocked
  7. Use Signage
  8. Use Props & Lighting

Always look at your booth display from the shopper's perspective. How do they approach your set up? What would grab their attention the midst of hundreds of other booths? Consider both creative and practical tips for organizing your flea market booth.

Getting the Word Out

Selling honey at Shipshewana Auction

There are so many different ways you can help to spread the word about your events. Try using a variety of methods and channels to advertise to your fans.

Just remember to choose wisely by considering your target demographic and where they get their information. After all, you don't want to waste time on promotions that your audience will never see.

Some things you can use to help promote your vendor events or markets include:

  1. Flyers & Handouts
  2. Social Media
  3. Website
  4. Email Signatures
  5. Word of Mouth
  6. Newsletter

Increase Sales

Ladies buying peaches at the Shipshewana Flea Market

If you want to grow your flea market business and sell your goods to as many customers as possible, you must be on your selling "A-game" every time someone enters your booth space.

To be good at selling at flea markets, you need to learn how to make connections with customers. After all, with today's online shopping availability, the one advantage you have is that your customers can actually connect with the seller...that's you! If you aren't making connections, then your product and your prices HAVE to be the best...and good luck competing based on these alone!

How to make good connections

In order to make good connections, you may have to get out of your comfort zone, be personable, and start conversations. It may seem awkward at first, especially if you're an introvert, but with time and practice, you'll soon be able to start a conversation with anyone.

Selling Essentials for Flea Market Vendors

Try a few of these flea market sales tips at your next event:

  1. Smile and Greet
  2. Know EVERYTHING About Your Products
  3. Start a Conversation
  4. Ask Questions
  5. Keep Moving (organize inventory, clean, create more products, take photos, etc)

Want a full, more detailed guide to making money by selling at flea markets? Download our free E-book.

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