Archive for November, 2012

Food Vendors At the Flea Market

This is the #1 item to sell.  People always have money for food.  Some markets control the food.  Why, you ask?  There is a lot of money in it.  If allowed to set up, sell quality food at fair prices.  Get liability insurance, health department permits and/or any other licenses required.  Be legal or you will be closed down.  Only sell at larger markets, events, and fairs where there is foot traffic.  You can have as food trailer, hot dog cart or just a tent depending on what you are selling or making.  Start up costs can be low to high.  Several people do this and move around using a route system and making thousands of dollars every year.


Owning A New Flea Market Today in 2012

Owning a New Flea Market Today in 2012

I will give you the pros and cons of ownership.


  1. Cash business – no credit cards or checks
  2. Operating hours limited
  3. Lower overhead – outside markets
  4. You are the boss
  5. Have better control over your life
  6. Get to meet a lot of people
  7. After it is established, limited hours, but making a lot of money
  8. In Northern states normally opened April through October or until the first snow.  Three months of vacation every year
  9. May be able to find silent investor to fund opening.


  1. Need as large amount of start up cash, realistically today $40,000-$60,000.
  2. No profits for the first two to three years.
  3. Full time plus hours starting out in first few years with no income.
  4. A lot of time required in research, planning and marketing.
  5. Planning how to compete with your competition.
  6. All income in first year of operation has to be put into the business to build it with no profits seen.
  7. Finding a location and working out the lease and licenses required.
  8. You will still need another source of income to live on until the market starts showing a profit, realistically 2-3 years.
  9. Need as detailed marketing plan, which can be costly and/or as lot of time required by you.
  10. Advertising costs are a must and not cheap.
  11. On location – you are better off owning it.  Starting out lease on percentage basis paid to property owner.  No set dollar amount on monthly lease.  This is fair to everyone.
  12. Need location for a medium to large market.  Vendor spots 15 ft. x 20 ft. and 20’x20’, parking for buyers (300-500 cars)
  13. Will need local and/or state licenses and or permits, liability insurance, register a business name in LLC, restrooms or port-a-johns.  Design a layout on paper.
  14. Most of your time will be spent on finding a location with heavy traffic.  Must have easy access with high volume traffic or you lose.
  15. Just like any other business you start, or if you have the cash, buy out as market that has been around for twenty plus years with as track record.
  16. To many people try to open on a shoestring budget.  It will not work.

Marketing At Flea Markets — It Works!

Marketing at Flea Markets – It Works

In today’s world marketing with a little extra service will increase sales.  Flea markets are not like they were twenty years ago.  People then just sold old junk, dirty household items they didn’t want.  Today markets have more professional vendors selling new merchandise.  It’s a better way of doing business than trying to open a brick and mortar store.  Where can you rent a store for $40-$50 a day with a large volume of traffic other than a large flea market.  The cost equals set up fee and gas for your truck and that’s it.  This method can be applied and used for just about anything you sell.  Here is a prime example:  I sell Foster Grant sunglasses – 2 pairs for $9.00 or $5.00 each.  My cost is $.57 per pair delivered.

  1. Sell quality branded goods if possible.
  2. Selling price needs to be cheaper than the retail store.
  3. Only sell new glasses, nothing damaged, dirty or used.
  4. Print professional price signs from your computer and display them.
  5. Offer service – Inspect, remove tags, clean the glasses on every sale.  I have never seen anyone other than myself do this in the past twenty years.  If they purchase several pairs, and a lot of people do, service each pair, wrap in soft paper towels before placing in bag (protect them for your buyers).  This is really a simple marketing tip that pays off in repeat and referral sales.
  6. Give away a visor sunglass clip for every two pairs sold (customer gets choice of colors)  Make a large professional sign saying “Free Visor Clip with Purchase”.  Locate and research sources for visor clips – some are junk.  Buy quality clips in bulk.  The average price is $.15-$.25 each and they come in colors.  Tell your buyers to use them; they protect the glasses from damage.  More people damage sunglasses in their cars when they are not wearing them.

You stand out by offering a little service and giving away a free visor clip that others do not do.  Your buyers will tell other people about you and then watch your sales increase.  Selling brand name sunglasses is the best, however, this works with no name sunglasses also.  It’s marketing and being different pays off.

Buy glasses and visor clips off season for a better price in bulk.  My average profit on as single pair of sunglasses is 877%.  Divide sale price by total cost equals your profit.

As the season moves on during the year, most vendors drop their prices on glasses.  But if you are selling a quality product and giving that extra service, why do you want to cut your profits?  There is no need to do that.  When the season comes to the end in September, pack away your glasses until next year.

Will All New Merchandise Sell

The answer to that is no way.  First off, do  your research and planning.  Go to a market and watch the buyers:  how they are dressed, what they are buying and the price they are paying.  Check the demographics of the area and surrounding areas (use the internet for this).  Check the areas for lower income or higher unemployment rates.  These areas are poor for selling new merchandise.  Middle or average income areas that draw transient buyers are the best for selling new merchandise, unless you sell at special events, fairs or are near a vacation spot.

Most transient buyers are lookers, but will buy if they are attracted to your display.  The best markets to sell at have a track record of being in business for many years, and need to be in a larger market to attract a lot of buyers and vendors.

After you decide what to sell check out the competition.  If you want to sell sunglasses (good choice) and there are 5-7 vendors selling sunglasses at the market you want to sell at, check out their quality, what name brand, if any, they are selling, their price, their displays and selection.  Can you beat them in quality and give service which in most cases no one does?  Price doesn’t mean a lot, but be close – not the cheapest but not the highest.  Have quality displays and a lot of them, the more the better.  I use table top spinners all made out of metal made to last a lifetime, and I have 8-10 displays.  If you need displays, contact me at  Please have the book in front of you when you contact me for a special code needed to receive this free information on where to find displays.  It took me many months and hours of searching to find them.  These displays hold 36 pair each of sunglasses.  Buy sunglasses in the off season where you can buy low and sell high.

The top three items that sell well at markets are:

  1. Made to order food
  2. Fresh fruits and vegetables and home made baked goods and candies
  3. Packaged foods like cereal, crackers, etc.

Everything else varies based on market location and demographics.  Do your research first before buying merchandise.  Thinking about what you want to sell first before buying is extremely important.  People are buying things they need 80%-90% of the time.  Money is tight.

Flea Market Rules and Regulations You Do Not Like

The people that own a flea market or control an event run the show and they set the rules which you need to follow.  If you don’t like the rules and regulations, move on to another market.  I have never found a market with perfect rules and regulations.  When you locate a good market for selling your merchandise, follow the rules.  If you opened your own market, you would set up rules and regulations for vendors to follow.  Making the sales is your only concern, the rules and regulations are set up to protect the market owners.  Keep your nose clean and deal with it.

Common Sense Thoughts

  1. Take a fixed percent of all sales and hold that money to be used to purchase merchandise.
  2. Have neat, clean, organized displays of merchandise on nice bright colored cloths.  Appearance is everything.
  3. Be polite.  Talk to the buyers before and after a sale is made.  Thank them and invite them to come back again.  Very few vendors do this.
  4. Customer service is very important today.  Most retail stores do not provide it, but you can and your sales will show it.
  5. Sell at larger markets with transient buyers, which means buyers change weekly.  You will notice your sales are more stable week to week.  Or if you like to travel, set up a route and go to a different market each week for a month or so where the same buyers do not see you every week.  Several people I know run a route and do very well.  But if you offer a lot of service, like watch repair, stay at the same market to build up as clientele of repeat business.
  6. Make sure to check your merchandise regularly so you never run out of merchandise to sell.  This is a business, so treat it as such.
  7. Replace your equipment as needed and maintain it.  Do not use a dirty tent – clean it or replace it.  Some vendors get lazy, and when they do, their sales quickly drop.
  8. Remember, there are no free rides in life.  With a little effort you will do well.  Anyone can find an excuse for why they cannot do it.  Forget the excuses and get off the couch.  I cannot tell you how many times I hear excuses of why people can’t do it.  It’s just plain laziness.

Advertise and Stand Out At Any Market

Draw attention to yourself.  Some vendors do not get it.  Having a good quality EZ Up tent to protect your merchandise and yourself from the weather is needed.  Now why not add two flags on 10’ PVC poles zipped tied to the front legs of your tent, and you become a landmark/meeting place for buyers.  Most important you tell buyers to look for your flags when they come back.  Find a good location at a market and use it every week.  Do not move around to different locations at the same market.  Your sales will drop.  People need to find you.  Your cost for two 3’x5’ flags, 2 10’ poles, nails, zip ties is approximately $25-$30.  Reuse every week.  I had a man come to me four times in four weeks and ask about why I have flags.  I found out the man was also a vendor at the same market, but he still didn’t get why I use the flags.  There are approximately 50 or 60 tents set up each week.  I am the only one with flags.  My sales show it.  Being different is good and it pays off.