If at First You Don't Succeed at a Swap Meet...

child looking sports cardsSomething similar has probably happened to everyone. You just scored a great unit at one of your local storage auctions. Maybe you found five boxes filled to the brim with CDs, or a ton of tools, or maybe some collectible Hot Wheels cars. You're probably thinking that these things are going to sell like crazy at your next swap meet, right? Well, what happens if you don't sell a single one of these items? Does this mean they're worthless and you wasted your time? Should you just give up? Well, you could--but I wouldn't suggest it. Remember: if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. There might be a lot of reasons why your items didn't sell, but that doesn't mean to throw them out!

Consider Location and Demographic

Are you trying to sell tools and there's a table selling even more tools three tables away from you? Are you trying to sell farm equipment in an urban area? Maybe you're trying to sell Frank Sinatra records to a group of 14 year old girls. When I put it like that, you can clearly see the problem. The area in which you're selling, who's selling alongside you, and the age/gender of your buyers could all impact your sales. Of course, there's really not much you can do about who shows up to the swap meet, unless you know for a fact that it draws a very specific kind of crowd, but you can definitely zero in on the area you're living in. Maybe you live in a town that is known for its love of art--this would be a perfect place to bring your bulk art supplies or original paintings. The best way to find out is through trial and error. Just because your first swap meet was a bust doesn't mean they all will be. Think of it as a learning experience!

Drop Your Prices

50% off rackIf you're trying to sell those CD's for three bucks apiece and they're just not moving, try lowering your prices. Just try two bucks to start. That one dollar might just make the difference in your sales. Those CDs weren't doing you any good just sitting around in your garage, so if you can make any kind of money off of them, you're doing great. Besides--how much did your unit go for at the storage auction? If you got it for a steal, there's no reason not to lower your prices. Two dollars here and there really starts to add up, so don't discredit it as a loss in profits--you're most likely going to gain. It's very common to drop the prices on items during the last day or later half of the sale. At the end of the day, customers are looking to get rid of a few more bucks, and you're looking to get rid of your inventory. It's really a win-win situation!

Look for Other Venues

Not only can you look for other swap meets to sell at, you should also be looking at other venues completely. Most storage hunters use swap meets in conjunction with tag sales, eBay, and antique shops, to name a few (some folks should even consider selling on Etsy!). You have to be creative, and you have to realize that some things just won't sell in certain venues. For example, don't bring your massive antique bureau to a swap meet--it probably weighs a ton, it was a nightmare to get in and out of your truck, and it would have been much easier to drop it off at the local antique shop. Make connections, get to know your local dealers, and you could be making some good money.


It all comes down to knowing your customers. Just like any good business person, you have to know your customer, and you have to supply great products at even better prices in order to be successful and keep them coming back. And don't worry--this isn't something you learn overnight--it's going to take some time, and you're going to make some mistakes, but it will be worth it in the long run when you've established regular customers. Because as we know, regular customers means regular cash.


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