While you are selling your merchandise why not promote your other business if you have one or for a friend or business associate. Cheap advertising – great returns. Let me explain. I sell security items, like stun guns and pepper spray. I give out information on home security alarm systems with my name on them. When people get an alarm system I receive two months of free security monitoring services for my efforts. This is valued at $33.00 per month. Flyers and business cards take up little space. Easy money. Now that I got back into the construction business specializing in HVAC, I display a furnace and AC unit with magnetic business cards and flyers and set up appointments for estimates each Sunday. I use the market two ways – to sell merchandise and promote my business on the cheap. The result: going to the same local market each Sunday is getting better with time. At first results were slow by selling furnaces in May, June and July in 80-90 degree heat, and being new in the business, but it works and the sales are getting better and better. The bottom line results for me are very good with the HVAC business and selling my merchandise is becoming pocket change per say.
Starting a new business today is costly, but I overcame that problem in spending thousands of dollars to advertise. It cost me $18 a Sunday to promote my HVAC business and the returns are great. This business was started with no money, just an idea. For the best part, never say you cannot do it. I never installed or repaired a furnace or an AC unit in my life, but owned a fire insurance restoration business for twenty years and sold it in 1999. Now in 2014 I started a heating and AC company. I found a qualified installer to handle the work as a subcontractor with two helpers. Then I set up the business legally on a large shoe string and I am 63 years old. I have no equipment on parts; just ambition, a display furnace and an AC unit (at no cost) to sell my services. Later this summer I will have my 1999 van which is in top condition lettered to advertise the business even more. This will be a moving billboard where my two displays are kept with flyers and business cards. I have talked to a lot of people about furnaces in May and June, but being its 80-90 degrees, they are not in a hurry; however, I know I will have 40-50% of them for installation this fall. Two months later I have a website and starting to give free estimates each week with great results. Try it today. It works.
Vendors at flea markets are sales people. That is your main asset; use it. My website it: for reference. If you need a website built, let me know. The person I use can build you a website for approximately $300-$500. Just contact me with your complete contact information and phone number. He will design and set up your site and it’s up to you to promote it. In addition, a business Facebook account can be set up for you if you want for a small fee. You can email me at trwr at Comcast dot net. It takes about 3-4 weeks for the site. We can talk first prior to releasing your contact information.
I will advertise also on Angie’s List, Craigslist, network with contractors, and join the local real estate association.



There are two types of products to buy – certified and non certified chargers. Certified cost more and have a warranty and that they work with the phones. Non certified is cheap quality junk. Example: USB Bullitt for car chargers 3.2 cents each direct from China and must buy 1,000 units at $32.00 delivered. Great price, poor quality. If lucky, 50% of them work for a short time. Then you get a reputation as selling junk. Buy the certified units. I sell these myself and pay approximately .68 cents each for a lot of 100. I sell them at $5.00 each and they are the same quality AT&T and Verizon sell at $20 each. If your buyers say that is too much, tell them the difference and then shut up. Other vendors sell non certified for $3-$5 each which are junk.

Buying Other Merchandise
To get the best price pay cash and buy the entire deal. You never will get a good deal buying in small amounts. Remember, you need to make 400-900% on your cost; otherwise, you work for free.


Good markets are large enough for 150-300 vendors. Anything over that you are a needle in a haystack. Your location is very important. You can determine this by visiting and watching peoples’ traffic patterns, like near the entrances, parking lots, food vendors. Every market is different. Research and time is required prior to setting up.

Bad markets are new markets and/or markets with a few vendors. You need the vendors to draw the buyers. If you arrive at a market to sell and you haven’t taken the time for research and prior visits, you lose. Why? You are wasting your money. Research and visits are a must prior to selling. Unless you are going to a well-established market that you received information on from trusted vendors you know. Even then, do your research in person. That is the best.

Specialty markets for collectors, antiques or crafts are only for those types of items only unless you are a food vendor. Consider doing county fairs or special events if you have the proper merchandise to sell. Your set up cost is high compared to a flea market. And there are certain rules to follow. They get the traffic in most cases. Never just set up without first viewing it yourself as a buyer. Then weigh the cost and if permits are required. You may have to pay in advance which today is the norm. If the weather turns nasty on you, your set up fees are gone. You then lose. Watch yourself on this area of selling – you can hit a gold mine or quick sand. Some vendors think just because they get traffic you will make out. This is not so. There are a lot of factors to consider – type of merchandise needed, location and location is number one, hours that you have to be opened and do you have the help you need.


A survey was taken this year and 80% of buyers are only buying items they need due to the economy. The other 20% are impulse buyers and/or collectors and walkers. Sellers need to think about what they are selling. Take your own survey at markets and watch people what they buy. Sellers need items that are needed by most people. Offer services like cell phone repairs, watch batteries and bands, or just basic simple watch repairs and adjustments.

The top items to sell this this are:
1. Food – making food on site. People always have money to feed their face.
2. Homemade baked goods.
3. Candy
4. Packaged store foods
5. Fresh produce
6. Seasonal items like sunglasses
The list goes on. Always check with the market you want to sell at to see if you are allowed to sell items you select. Every market has their own rules and every item will not sell at all markets. You must test the various markets. Try to offer at least 2-3 main core items to sell, but in large quantities so you draw attention to your set up. Use bright bold covers for your tables. When using a tent, place 2 flags of your choice on PUC poles 10’ high to draw more attention to your spot. Talk to all customers within 20 seconds. Buyers like friendly vendors. Never sit on a 5 gallon bucket in front of your display – you will look like a homeless person begging for a handout. I see this almost every week. Who wants to buy from a vendor like that? In most cases a vendors sitting on buckets do not speak to the buyers other than placing their hand out for money if they buy something.


If selling new items, do not go to an antique or collectors market. You are wasting your time. It is best to go to a market that has a mix of new, used and collectibles or a show like a county fair that draws thousands of people; provided that you have the proper merchandise to sell. For example: sunglasses, T-shirts, cell phone items, food, etc. Farmers markets are mostly for fresh vegetables, fruits and baked goods. New or used merchandise will not sell at farmers markets. Shows are good if you sell the proper merchandise like everyone else there is selling. Watch your set up cost at shows, fairs, etc. This is where research and time comes in. Check it out first and ask questions.

The people who are running the show or event will always say it is great – watch out – never go set up to sell without doing your homework. Your wallet will show the results. Talk to vendors who sold there and find out what they sold and decide if the cost to set up and traffic will be worth your time. The grass always looks greener on the other side, but 90% of the time it isn’t. As I said before, moving around to different markets every Sunday in a cycle like 4-6 weeks, then start over again. This produces the best results with a higher income.


1. Appearance is number one. Choose bright colors, arrange merchandise neatly.
2. Speak to buyers within 20 seconds, otherwise, lose the sale.
3. Offer extra services others do not. Use poster board with clear lamination to protect your signs.
4. Attach 3’x5’ flags (of your choice) to your tent. They work. I have used them for over ten years now.
5. All merchandise must be clean (new or used).
6. Stay away from knock-offs.
7. Offer at least two price points – single and multiples.
8. Work with people on large purchases and adjust your selling price. Listen to what the buyer wants.
9. Consider moving around to different markets every week (your sales will increase). You will need help with this.
10. Try to sell items people want and need; this is where research comes in. Stay away from basic used household items. In most cases they have little to no value.
11. Be prepared prior to going out – check over your truck, merchandise, equipment, etc. Also, plan for rain. Have plastic covers cut to size to protect your merchandise.
12. Have plenty of change – $50 is normally enough and use a nail apron. Never leave a money box out in clear view.
13. Make friends with other professional vendors – get their phone numbers.


Finding excess merchandise in large lots is pretty much dried up. Every once in a while you can find a deal by becoming friends with other vendors. Prior to 2008 excess deals were everywhere, but not today. If you run across one, buy it, providing it’s a good deal on quality and price. Look on Craigslist in major cities. Even if you have to drive a distance to pick up a good deal, run the numbers first to make sure it is a good deal. Buying wholesale limits you in many ways. If it is not a quality product at a cost where you can resell at profit margins of 300-800%, walk away from the deal. Some wholesalers are a rip-off. Compare quality and price with freight costs. On EBay it seems like there is very little large deals anymore. But I found out that if a seller is listing several items you want to sell contact them directly to see if you can strike a deal. Pay with PayPal only using a credit card like Discover to protect yourself, If the deal goes bad, you can send it back to the seller with a tracking number, then call your credit card company to cancel the charges. Discover has done this for me several times over the past five years. They are great. Your best bet, if possible, is to become friendly with other professional vendors for sources of merchandise deals. These are normally all cash deals only. Trust no one! Check the merchandise and counts; protect yourself. If a seller gives you BS because you want to check and verify the count tell them “no thanks” and walk away. It’s your money. Some vendors and/or sellers are less than honest, but generally most are honest. It only takes one bad apple to rip you off.