Archive for October, 2012

Increasing Sales and Profits at Flea Markets

  1. Set up outside.
  2. Use larger markets with high traffic.
  3. Markets located at or near vacation spots are superior; these buyers change weekly.
  4. Locally, there are large markets with transient buyers, seek them out.  Just visit them and talk with several professional vendors about the buyers.  Your sales will be more consistent weekly than at a small or medium market that has the same buyers patronizing it week after week after week.

During a regular market season in the East between April and October the sales fall off as the season goes on normally.  But at a larger market with 80% transient buyers that change weekly, your sales remain very stable until Labor Day.

I compared two markets for four months this year (2012) (April-July).  One was medium to large market – same buyers each week; mostly the locals.  The other market is a large market with 60%-80% new buyers every week.  My average sales in the larger market was actually doubled each week as compared with the small to medium market with the same buyers.  The more transient buyers you have the better.  Just go to different markets and talk to several professional vendors and decide for yourself.  Would you be happy with decreased sales each week as the season goes on or would you like a raise with more consistent sales every week?  You spend the same amount of time at any market to make $150 a day or $500 a day.  Time is money!

New Markets – They are for non-professional vendors at best.  Why waste time and lose money with a little traffic.  Let them try to build to a vendor and buyer base first, at least for the first two years.  Then check them out again.  Professional vendors sell at medium to large markets that have a following of vendors and buyers.  Most areas always see a few new markets opening up each year and close within a year.  Why you ask?  Simple.  The operation needs a blueprint to follow.  There is information on the Internet. Visit that has the needed blueprint on operating and setting up a new flea market and what is involved.


Selling Seasonal Merchandise

It is good, but be prepared and have other merchandise in your truck in case of weather changes.  For an example:  I sell Foster Grant sunglasses every summer, but if the weather at times is against me (like a cloudy day), I have other merchandise that I can sell.  Why waste time setting up a display of sunglasses on an overcast day?

Being prepared makes money and saves you from also wasting your time.

Sellers Beware – Warning

If you find several vendors selling the same item as you, be careful.  That means a lot of people are hurting, trying to make a buck.  At small and medium markets, you find this a lot.  Then, vendors start cutting their selling price and cut each other’s throats.  Then, no one makes any money and the buyers love this and it can be used against you.  Find a large market with transient buyers, offer a service, buy low and sell high on items people need and want.  This is where you need to do your research, in addition to checking out markets, testing-selling at markets, locating merchandise at a good price.  It may take a while to find a good market, but it pays off if you do the research.  Seasonal items seem to draw more sellers, like selling sunglasses.

There are many reasons why some vendors quit selling within one year:  no planning, no research, poor quality merchandise, poor displays, paid too much for the merchandise, no marketing.  Then, after a year they stop selling altogether.  I see this every year.  I have sold name brand sunglasses every year for 20 years and still making a profit of 792% at every sale.

Do not fall into the trap of being known as the cheapest seller at the flea market.  Do you planning, research, testing markets, locating quality merchandise at the right price and offer service.

Why It’s A Good Time to Start Selling at the Flea Market

  1. The economy is in the tank and not getting any better since 2008.
  2. Companies are closing and/or cutting employees.
  3. Prices on basic items such as food, gas, utilities, taxes keep going up.
  4. Retail sales are flat.  Go to any Mall and look around.
  5. Ads for employment disappeared back in 2008.  It still the same and in some areas it’s worse.
  6. Corporate greed is destroying the country.
  7. Companies’ attitudes on wages of $10 to $12 an hour, thinking this is good money.  Try to live on this.  Kids getting out of college with major debt and if lucky to get work at $10-$12 an hour with a title that means nothing.
  8. Working for yourself is not for everyone, but it is the best deal out there today.  Freedom is #1; Money is #2.
  9. Selling at flea markets, fairs, events seems the norm today and the way to shop.  Forget the brick and mortar businesses.  The overhead will eat you alive.
  10. Flea marketing is a cash business.  There is no overhead other than basic equipment you reuse for years if you take care of it.  Gas and set up fees are minimal.  It a great business even for retirees.
  11. The News Channels and our Government claims the unemployment rate is 8%-9%, which is a false claim.  They need to learn to tell the truth.  The real unemployment rate has been 24%-25% and it remains the same today.  Our economy is not good at all.
  12. Ok, now you say I do not have any money to start – not a problem.  People start up in different ways like driving around in better neighborhoods before trash day and picking up items for sale.  There are many good saleable items that people just throw away.  Take them, clean them, repair them, sell them.  This is free merchandise and free money.  Take 50% of all sales and hold it until you build up enough cash to purchase the merchandise you want to sell.  Some people decide why sell new when they see how much they make with free merchandise.  This is something to consider.
  13. Buyers today only buy items they need in most cases because of the poor economy; however, flea markets draw people in good or bad times.  It takes time to build a business; forget the excuses and just do it.

Pricing Merchandise

Even when you find a deal, do not sell your merchandise too low.  For an example:  a friend of mine purchased an entire lot of garden hose sprayers that were made in the USA.  The company was sold and these same sprayers are now made in China and they are junk at $5.99 each.  His sprayers are the best quality sprayers I ever saw and used.  He purchased 10,000 of them at $.06 each and was selling them at $2.00 and $3.00 each; but then decided to sell them at $1.00 each because he purchased them for only $.06 a piece.  Well, his sales dropped because buyers thought they were junk sprayers at such a low selling price.

I purchased 300 of these sprayers from him at $.15 each.  I made a sign on my computer saying:  Sprayers – Made in USA – $2.00 each or 3 for $5.00.  I sell a lot of these sprayers, mostly 3 for $5.00.  I always give a single price and then a multiple price. Most people will buy 3 for $5.00 because they feel they are saving money verses buying them at a retail store and they are.  It’s a win/win deal.

My cost for the sprayers was $.45.  I sold them for $5.00.  My profit was $4.55 or 1,100%).  I never purchase anything if I cannot make at least a 500% profit.  This is where research and making contacts with other vendors really pays off.  The best time to research is in the off season when you have more time to devote to it.  To be successful at this, you must research to locate large lots and then purchase the entire lot.  If this is too much merchandise for you, then sell off some of the merchandise at liquidation prices.  Sell the excess out of your selling areas at 100%-200% made up of your cost.  A good place to sell excess merchandise is Ebay.

Profits You Need To Make

The average profit you make depends on your cost.  Buy low and sell high, but your price must be cheaper that any retail store.  My average profit on anything I sell is between 500%-800%.  But remember, I have over 25 years of experience and time invested into the business.  I have the contacts and I know over 50 professional vendors and auctioneers.

With my direct contacts and vendor sources, I can normally always make a deal.  You make the money when you buy merchandise at the right price.  As always, try to buy the entire deal.  Your cost then is pennies on a dollar.  But be careful; stay away from counterfeit merchandise unless you want a free vacation in jail.  In addition, you will be banded from selling at flea markets and it’s not worth it.