With the number of flea markets in the US hovering around the 2,000 mark, it remains a viable option for those wanting to explore the underbelly of flea market sales and distribution.
Swap meet sales interact with customers closely and intimately. A typical flea market can host hundreds of vendors, all offering something a little different. About half of the vendors are in it for the long-term, signaling a stay of roughly six months to a year. This would not be true in a business that is floundering. People are staying and earning money through swap meets and flea markets. The economy I some circuits is leaning towards local distribution. Where some may go ‘corporate,” many are finding the greatest value in their own local economy. Flea markets act as a hub of success, offering products of all sorts of lines, ranging from locally grown fruit in the farmer’s market to used garage sale type entities in electronics and furniture. Often times, the sales meets are only open on the weekends. This structure is conducive to the environment. It also makes it more accessible for those wanting to enter the world of flea marketing without quitting their day jobs. This accessibility makes for a lot of competition, but a lot of opportunity.
Many people sell used products through these means, and they come away with ridding of extra stock of items they may have in store. But the greatest use of flea markets is finding you an outlet to a large retail store. Many individuals spend years succeeding in the flea market, only to venture outside these means and devolve into retail and even wholesale structures.
With a small budget, flea markets may be one of the only ways to go. The fees for a booth are often reasonable, and depend on size and length of stay. You can expect to pay upwards of $50 for a booth at a typical flea market, and more if you sell new items. It is required you carry a selling license for most states, but this is obtained relatively easily by researching your local directory.
With that said, flea markets host auctions, sell a variety of products, and often succeed with small ticket items that are considered “impulse” purchases. When deciding on where to sell and what to sell you need to establish your primary bases- who am I selling to and how?
Firstly, find your flea market that works for you. If you are selling toys, a flea market next to a retirement community may not be your best bet. Scope out the competition and discover who is selling what you are. Not only will you learn what to do right, but what you can do differently. This is key in differentiating yourself from the thousands of customers who will enter your booth with lines such as, “Bill on the other side is selling the same stuff you are at a better price.” Be consistently aware of your competition, because they are aware of you.
The flea market industry thrives on customer satisfaction. Without being a greedy used car salesman, you have to be able to appeal to people personally and make them want to purchase. There is a lot of competition flourishing in a quality flea market, and it is easy to make a customer walk away. Build a friendly and welcoming aura by displaying your booth with positive energy. This includes a place for them to enter and feel welcomed, as opposed to a giant wall right at the main walkway. Loud music is problematic, as well as likely not allowed. Clutter and a mess give off the impression that this is your standard garage sale romp. You want to come across as respectful, and that you are acting a legitimate business. And you are! Flea markets are wonderfully eccentric but viable business outlets. Build your booth with an appealing background and style. Do not scatter items about randomly. This deters customers who feel the impression is laziness. Sitting down is also ill-advised. You want to appear like you are constantly accessible. Sitting down gives the impression that this is a lackadaisical afternoon, and their attention (and money) is unimportant.
Flea markets and swap meets are generally considered the lower tier of success in sales. Dominating this market should not be your final goal if you consider yourself a motivated entrepreneur. Set goals that are reachable and honest. Swap meets offer impeccable means to build your network and customer base without investing thousands of dollars. A booth is modestly priced, and obtaining the proper product is a matter of finding what you have at home and selling it. As your business expands, you can obtain product from other vendors for trade. Even further, you can purchase items wholesale and sell it just below retail. This way you are sustaining profit while still be a cheaper alternative. This environment allows prime opportunity for those who want to exceed into a retail or wholesaling market. It is unjust to expect to enter directly into these business sectors. But after making your dues at this level, and succeeding, you can carry over your customers, finances, and knowledge into greater realms of forethought and success. Flea markets are designed to be widely accessible. Take advantage of the opportunity by being pleasant and wise businessmen.