Archive for October, 2013

Selling At the Same Market Or Moving Around


Well, that is the thousand dollar question.  Compare the costs and profits yourself and decide what works for you.

The pros and cons are as follows:

Know your true cost of gas, tolls, spot set up fees, driving time (round trip) which will vary with each market or event.  The cost of merchandise you should know and the profit margins, which I said before, need to be 400%-900%.  The gross profit after the cost of goods and shipping can be higher when you find a great deal or lower if you overpaid for merchandise.

Some vendors claim moving around to different markets produces higher sells.  Yes, but there is the cost you need to add into the mix also.  Is is worth it?  You decide.  Now, if you do shows, events and fairs that are only once a year, or a once a month, there will be more buyers eager to buy than at a weekly flea market.  Which route should you take?  The only way to find out what works is for you to test them yourself.  I, myself, have found out that having the same merchandise to sell all the time is bad.  You need to mix it up and change out on short notice.  Having a few main items that you sell all the time is okay, but also have a mix of other merchandise to add in at anytime.  Remember, whatever you are selling will not sell the same at every flea market or event.

Now here is a comparison I did on two flea markets:

Myself in October 2013 – Remember, cost is gas, tolls, set up fee.  Driving time at $20 per hour (my time is not free).  Both markets are in low income areas in two different states.  The one in Ohio holds 600 vendors and the one in Pennsylvania holds 250 vendors at maximum capacity.  First off, you would think that selling in Ohio will produce more sales.  Maybe, but net profit is your goal and nothing else.


Sales $500

Costs – Gas $55.00 (180 miles); 4 hours driving 80.00; set up fee $20.00

So $500 minus $160 = $340 gross net less your merchandise cost


Sales:  $353

Cost:  Gas $3.50; miles 15; 30 min.; drive $12.50; set up fee $18

So $353 minus $34 = $319 gross net, less merchandise cost.

Now on time factor – this is a cost to you –

Ohio:  left my home at 4:00 a.m. and returned at 4:00 p.m. = 12 hours

Pennsylvania: left my home at 5:30 a.m. returned at 2:00 p.m. = 8.5 hours

Time is money, so add that into your cost.

The items I sold on these days were incense, incense burners and cell phone car chargers and pouches, stun guns and pepper spray with an average profit at both locations of 900% profit.

Final comparison:  Doing events or fairs once a year or once a month should produce higher sales.  Doing flea markets and moving around to different markets each week is good also.  But make sure you have enough items to display to draw attention to the buyers.  Have a selection of items – an average of 4-6 main items in large quantities displayed – not 20-50 different items.  People are drawn to larger displays with fewer items.

On signs – limit them and hand make them on poster board.  Stay away from professional computer signs.  People will think you are a store and are not offering a true bargain.


Merchandise Researching Pays Off

Things change daily.  You never know what you will find  It pays to do your research on a regular basis, like once a week or so.  Deals are still out there, but there are fewer than years ago.  Today, I was looking for older model cell phone chargers that I sell.  The best deal I found was to buy 100 chargers at $1.05 each for each style including delivery.  The problem was is that they were older chargers and it would take me at least 3-4 years to sell them all which is way too long to hold on to merchandise.  I researched on Craigslist and found a deal at a local pawn shop.  I found two large cases of cell phone accessories for older phones, priced at $25.00 for all of them.  I took the deal.  I received 97 home and car chargers and 95 leather pouches, hard clips, data cables, etc.  Older car chargers and pouches sell well at lower income and country flea markets.  Stores do not sell them anymore.  I sell older charges for $7.00 each and pouches and cases for $5.00.  If you do the math you will see that:

car chargers – 97 units sell at $7.00 each which is $679.00

pouches, cases and clips sell at $5.00 each which is 475.00

Total return is $1,154.00

Cost to purchase was $25.00

Profit is $1,229.00 which equals $.13 each per item.

Now this is making money.  4,516% profit.  There is over 25 different car charges and over 40 different pouches and cases in the deal, this is one of my better finds.  Research will pay off.  Just do it.  If you are looking for merchandise to sell, contact me.  I have a lot of deals for you.  Send an email to Paul at trwr at comcast dot net with your contact information.

The above deal was found and purchased on October 7, 2013 near the end of the flea market season here in Western Pennsylvania.  This merchandise will be put away and saved for next year to sell.  This is how you make money – when you buy merchandise and not when you sell it.  Being realistic – if I sell 80% of the deal which equals $923.20 income, my overall net return on this deal will be 3,692% on as $25 purchase.


That is the main reason for selling at flea markets.  Some people say they did good if they take in $50 or $100 a day  You are wasting valuable time.  It’s like working a JOB or better yet like working for the man.  In this case the man is the owner/operator of the flea market that collects a set rent from you no matter if you sell a lot or a little, but they collect from all people selling each day.  So wise up, unless you are a weekend warrior selling items from your home once or twice a year.  This is like any other business.  Planning and research takes time.  All successful businesses do this.

If you think everything will go perfectly with large sales and income each time you go out – you are a dreamer.  All businesses have their ups and downs, even the flea market business.  All of this is based on several factors that you have to adjust for in the planning stage.  For example:  if you sell sunglasses, it is an item people want and need, but it is a seasonal item.  If it is predicted to be a cloudy day, are you going to waste time and money setting up displays and and then at the end of the day selling only one or two pair?  That is poor or no planning at all on your part.  Make sure to always have other merchandise with you at all times and be prepared to make sales regardless of a sunny or cloudy day.

Now here is a true example of planning by a vendor I know tht makes his living selling at markets only.  He started out selling at the same market every weekend over thirty years ago.  He discovered that he saw many of the same buyers every week.  His sales fell off every week during the season.  He then tried other markets – small, medium and large.  Some were good and some were bad.  After a year of trial and error, he decided to travel to medium and large markets on the weekends and to a select few during the week.  This vendor sells basic items like baseball caps, bikers caps, socks and seasonal merchandise.  Anything he can buy on a deal that will fit into banana boxes.  The reason for this is they are easy to handle and stack in his high rise van, which he purchased new in 2006 at a cost of $50,000.  He paid cash for the van from earnings he made at the flea market.  He only buys in cash and sells in cash — get it?  As of this writing (August 2013), this vendor called another vendor that is selling in bulk and purchased plastic Easter eggs.  They are one dozen large colored eggs in a plastic bag with a header for $.15 cents per bag.  This vendor plans to sell them next year in 2014 prior to Easter for $1.00 or $1.50 per bag, based on which market he is selling at.  This is planning.  Be prepared and think ahead.  This vendor will make a profit of 700% or more next year.  This vendor always buys like this all year long.  He knows how to plan ahead and move from market to market — different ones, different town and states in and around Pennsylvania.

This vendor also has enough merchandise in his truck at all times to change out items because some items will not sell at certain markets.  This again is planning and being prepared.  My best time to plan and think and writing down things on paper is early in the morning while drinking my coffee  It is quiet, no TV, no kids, just quiet time.  Pick a time and place to do your planning, otherwise, you will lose.

For more information on making money at flea markets order the E-Book.  Print it, read it once or twice a year as it will refresh your memory on basic things you need to do to make money at the flea market.