Starting a Flea Market Business

If you have always dreamed of having a tiny business that you can throw your heart and soul into, it is possible to make it happen with a booth at a Flea Market. If you love baking, sewing, crafting or vintage and homemade items, you can find your customers any given Saturday and Sunday at that Flea Market. A booth at the market is very cheap and you normally don’t have a long term commitment or lease for the space. There is very little risk and the possibility for financial reward is high. You don’t need to invest much as a startup cost and there is very small overhead. Plus, you can start the business while keeping your day job. Flea Markets are rarely open more than the weekend so your schedule is very flexible. Sounds perfect, right?

Here is a list of things to do and see before you set up and become a part of the Flea Market scene. Keep in mind that Flea Markets each have their own rules and regulations and hours, so keep a list for each location so that you can choose the one that is exactly what you are looking for.

Before you set up a booth, visit all of the Flea Markets in your area. Some Markets will have vendors that specialize in more food than trinkets and others may have more large machinery than antique lace. Every flea market has its own atmosphere and some will attract professional decorators and do it yourself enthusiasts and some are full of discount shampoo and 10 tube socks for a dollar. Most Flea Markets have a combination of both but they may have certain areas set up for one or the other.Customers know which one has the things they are looking for and you want to set up in a Market that is best for your product.

Next, check to see if the product you want to sell is acceptable at the Flea Market. Some only want vendors with antiques and vintage and won’t allow food items. Others will only allow so many vendors with the same product. Also check out how many other vendors are selling a similar product to yours. For those wanting to sell antiques or vintage, the more the merrier. Food items can be the same way. If you are selling crafts, art, handmade and one of a kind, check out who is creating and selling for similarities. Your product may be just different enough for yours to stand out from the others and your sales can be competitive.

Survey the prices throughout the entire Flea Market. Some Markets can be high end and your prices on your products should reflect that. Also make note of the prices on the items that are like yours and keep pace with their prices. Another thing to look for in the pricing category is the prices on items in the front of the Market compared to the prices in the back. Often, booths that are far away causing the customer to walk a distance, will have cheaper prices. It is kind of a reward for making it all the way to the far corner! This should determine where you request a booth space too.

Next, check out the hours of operation for each Flea Market that you visit. You will need to be there in plenty of time to set up and make your booth look attractive. Most Markets have hours that the vendors are required to be there and the time that they can start breaking down their booth. You may be penalized if you break down too early. Some Markets also may not be open every weekend. They could open only once a month and perhaps only seasonally.

Ask how a booth is reserved and how you get the “special” booth or a booth indoors or in a particular building or area. Is the commitment only weekly, monthly or do you have to sign a contract for a longer period of time? And how far in advance do you need to reserve the space? Then, of course, how much does the space cost and what is included in that charge? Ask if there is a price difference in the indoor space compared to the outdoor space. Do they include a table or shelves, tents, chairs and do you have to rent those separately.

It is vital that you talk to the vendors that are already selling their wares. They know the place best and can help you with things that they learned when they first started. Ask them about the best weekends to sell and about traffic patterns in the Flea Market layout. Ask them if they are satisfied with their sales and the management. Learn from others, always!

It depends on where you live and the town the Flea Market is located in, but there are legal details that need to be taken care of. You may need to have a tax number and a business license. The front office at the Market will be able to tell you how to go about getting these papers and registrations. A county clerk can also help with the information. Check to see if you need to collect sales tax from purchases. Some Flea Markets collect sales tax from you daily and send it in for you. Again, depending on where the Flea Market is located, there may be different types of taxes and licensing depending on whether you are selling new items, used, plants or food. The Flea Market office will be answer those questions.

Replenishing your product should always be on your To-Do List. When you sell something, you have to have something to replace it. If you are just trying to get rid of things garage-sale style and are only going to be setting up one time, then replenishing product is not needed. But, if you are trying to be an ongoing business, you need to be able to get more product for the next week at the Flea Market. Selling your own artwork or crafts or food is easy to resource. You will just have to work very hard for the next week to replace what you sold this week. If you are selling yard sale items or vintage items that you have been collecting for years, you may have to start going to garage sales and thrift stores when you start getting low on inventory. Schedule some weekends for only going out and shopping and searching for products. Attend auctions, garage sales, estate sales, online swip swaps and craigslist. Some Flea Market Vendors hire “pickers” to go out and find items for them so they don’t have to take the time off from Market. New items or liquidated products need to be ordered on a regular basis from wholesale companies. You can also find liquidation items at pallet sellers websites and online auctions. .

Next, you have to design your booth and figure out what you will need to display your items attractively. Tables are normally supplied by management of the Flea Market, but you may need another and you will need something to cover the table. Chairs are sometimes provided also. If you sell clothing, you will want to have some sort of rack for people to sort through. A mirror, hat stands and a mannequin could help with display. Jewelry cases that lock help with the safety factor and plastic crates arranged like a shelf system are cheap additions. Everything you use for display should be easy to lift and carry and load into your vehicle. A dolly is perfect for loading up heavy items or several stacked on each other.

Finally, you are ready for your first day at the Flea Market. Remember to be ready to set up at the required times. Flea Market management is strict with the control of setup and breakdown times. You have your table is set with the best items at the front. Your display looks perfect and they have just opened the gates. You should keep in mind during the course of the day that Flea Markets are notorious for having customers negotiate or haggle with pricing. Set your prices but also know how much wiggle room you have in that price. If the customer walks away from your offer that is always just fine. There will be another customer right behind them!

Have cash on you in a fanny bag, not a cash box, and start out with small bills. It is advantageous to accept credit cards by using Square or other devices with your phone. The convenience of using your card allows people to spend more than they had originally planned!

And, finally, just have fun. People come to Flea Markets because it is a Fun type of shopping. They are looking for treasures and you are there making some money and showing off your great talent in merchandising!

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