26 Tips for Selling at Flea Markets:
The Guide for Street Vendors
Like a yard sell, flea markets is a great opportunity to sell items you no longer use or items that you’ve created. The difference is, the foot traffic is higher and thus the opportunity to generate income is more secured. Furthermore, flea market schedules are flexible, so you can count it as great supplemental income. Here are some tips to not only get started but be successful!
Before you book
- Do attend all of your local flea markets before renting a booth at one. Pay attention to what the vendors are selling and for what prices. Watch the shoppers to see what goods draw them into booths and what they actually buy. If you’re hoping to sell high-end vintage furnishings, you’ll want to mark the flea market with primarily seconds and knockoffs off of your list.
- Do talk to all of the flea markets on your short list to ask about booth rental prices, merchandise rules, the approval process, legal and tax requirements, and whether there’s a booth available.
- Find out when each flea market is open. Some open every weekend, and some only one weekend a month. You might find a permanent business home, or you might want to make the rounds each month.
- Talk to other vendors. Find out if they’re happy with traffic and sales.
- Depending on your city, county, and state requirements, you may need a tax number or business license. The flea market office can usually tell you what you’ll need, and many have the paperwork available onsite.
Once you book
- Do try to rent a booth near the main entrance if spaces are assigned. Flea market shoppers tend to comb through the stalls when they first arrive and speed by with a glance as they get tired, especially at large flea markets.
- Do arrive at the flea market before they open for vendors if the booth spaces aren’t assigned. You need to be among the first in line to get a space near the entrance.
- Do buy merchandise at a price low enough to mark up for resale. It doesn’t matter how fabulous that mid-century sideboard if you can’t make a profit.
- Do pay attention to trends in antique and vintage merchandise. If something is hot, hot, hot right now, you’ll lure shoppers into your booth by having it.
- Do source merchandise from a variety of places. If you get everything in one place and it dries up, you’re out of business.
- Don’t wait until the last minute to set up your booth on market days. Instead, get there at the earliest time vendors are allowed to arrive. Serious flea market shoppers storm the gates as soon as they open and your booth needs to be ready.
- Do shelter your booth with a pop-up tent canopy. It differentiates your booth visually from those on either side and makes it seem more festive. And, on hot days, both you and your shoppers will appreciate the shade.
- Do set up a way to take credit cards if possible. These days, you can do it via your smartphone even if the booth doesn’t have electricity. The easier you make it for shoppers to buy, the more they’re likely to spend, especially if you sell big-ticket items like furniture.
- Don’t assume the flea market’s traffic is all you need. That helps, but try to build a customer base of your own by advertising your booth. Start a page for your booth on Facebook,Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram. Build your Twitter following and tweet pics of your latest finds. Have a signup sheet so shoppers can provide their email address for your newsletter and announcements.
- If you plan to sell your overflow of vintage home furnishings from years of yard sale shopping, you’ll soon need to replenish the merchandise. You might schedule some weekends for selling, and other for shopping. Or, search for merchandise at thrift stores, Friday yard sales, auctions, and Craigslist. Place your own classified and Craigslist ads, offering to buy used furnishings from folks who don’t want the hassle of holding a yard sale.
Interacting with Flea Market Shoppers
- Don’t get mad when shoppers haggle. They do it because it’s always been part of the flea market experience and they know most sellers mark up the merchandise to allow for it. Even if you don’t, you can’t change flea market culture. Just remind yourself that you have all the power. It’s your merchandise and they can’t force you to sell it for less.
- Don’t stalk shoppers as the browse your booth. It’s too pushy — and many will assume you think they’re thieves. Instead, listen to what they actually say and pay attention to nonverbal body language to recognize when they want to chat.
- Don’t try to sell shoppers random things if they haven’t expressed an interest. You’ll distract them from goods they might actually want — and they’ll probably just flee to get away from you.
- Don’t kick a shopper out of your booth for rude or aggressive haggling, unless he’s damaging the merchandise or running other shoppers off. It’s possible that he’s just new or awkward at negotiating and doesn’t know the haggling don’ts. Even if he is just rude, he has friends that might not be and you can’t bet he’ll tell them about his experience.
- Unless you have a designated cashier, who sits at a designated table and has no other duties,do not use a money box. Otherwise, you will accidentally leave that box unattended at some point during the day.
- If you have no designated cashier, wear a fanny pack or an apron with large pockets. The apron is best. You don’t have to worry about a zipper and it helps shoppers identify you as the vendor.
- Smile and say hello when people come to your booth, but don’t try to sell. Mirror the customer. If the customer is chatty, then chat. Otherwise, be available when they need you, but don’t bug them.
- Don’t go down on price too much during the morning of the first day of the flea market. That’s when you’ll have the most customers, so there’s no need to give your goods away. Instead, offer a nominal discount. If the buyer doesn’t bit, suggest he come back during the last couple of hours of the flea market’s final day. You’ll be glad to haggle rather than load it back up at that point, especially on big, heavy pieces.
- Tag your goods with prices. For one, shoppers don’t want to ask you for prices on every single item that catches their eyes. For another, some shoppers may suspect you’re tailoring the price to the amount you think they can afford — especially if you actually are.
- Price your pieces a bit higher than the amount you hope to get. That’s leaves you some haggle room, which means you get your ideal price and the customer feels like he’s gotten a deal. If you tag your goods with your rock-bottom price, you have no bargaining room.
- When you’re setting up your booth, spend a little time making it look attractive. Though some shoppers don’t mind digging, some do. Why not make your goods look good?
- Flea Market Selling Tips: Do’s and Don’ts for Vendors http://fleamarket.about.com/od/insidershoppingtips/qt/12-Dos-And-Do-Nots-For-Shopping-Antique-Malls.htm
- The Best Place to Sell Your Stuff: Selling at Flea Markets and Antique Malls Updated March 04, 2015. http://fleamarket.about.com/od/sellingbasics/qt/The-Best-Place-To-Sell-Your-Stuff-Selling-At-Flea-Markets-And-Antique-Malls.htm