Posts Tagged ‘flea market’


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.



After several tests, the findings are:  Sundays are the best days.  Moving to different markets each week or every other week will increase your sales.  It is a proven fact, however, you will need help.  One person can do it, but it is hard.  I know because I do it myself.  My daughters did help me when they were in school, but unfortunately, they are grown up and off on their own.  You will save a lot of time having help setting up, selling merchandise, and tearing down.  Plus, you will have time to check out other vendors and look for deals as well.

The one question that is asked of me a lot is “what do you pay your kids”?  They deserve to be paid and they will learn a lot, and in return, can make you more money.  When my girls were ten years old, they started at flea markets until they were eighteen years of age.  I paid them a minimum of $20 or 10%-15% of the total sales plus breakfast.  We always took our own drinks and lunch.

A friend of mine sells at different markets every weekend for a period of 4 to 7 weeks then repeats each market from April through October each year.  His sales have increased 40% by moving around instead of staying at the same market every week.  He also has six kids to help him set up, sell and tear down.  This seems to work out good for him.  I, myself, sell at the same market every Sunday due to the fact that I offer services — watch repairs — and I am the only one at the market who offers this service.  My friend, on the other hand, travels out of town to other states within a 150 mile radius.

In Pittsburgh we have only three markets to select from.  I chose the market where the customers who patronize this market appreciate a true bargain and are willing to pay my price without trying to low ball my merchandise and wanting it for nothing.  When you run across cheap customers, you can tell them one of two things:

1.         I do not pay people to take merchandise; or,

2.         This is a flea market, not a free market.

Remember to speak up.  Never let cheap people tell you what to do.  They never buy anyway.

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.

Sales at Flea Markets Do Change

Sales at Flea Markets Do Change.

If you think you will make $600-$1,500 in sales everyday you are at a flea market, you are dreaming.  Possibly at a special event and/or fair for a few days only.  Store sales are up and down everyday so are the flea markets.  You deal with weather, time of the year, time of the month, the size of the market, type of buyers; even if you sell at a large market with transient buyers or run a route of different markets, this will occur.  I do not know of any business where sales are the same and real stable everyday.  Different factors cause sales changes, so be prepared and let’s assume you are a vendor with a few years of experience and have your equipment and stock.  Make a plan and stick to it.  Total income for the day, deduct your set up fee, gas, then take at least 25% of your sales for replacement stock, then 25% rain day fund.  This leaves 50% for you.  Should you decide not to do this, it will adversely affect you at some point.  Be smart and plan ahead.

For example:  sales $500 plus gas $15, set up fee $25, gross net equals $460.  Hold $115 for replacement merchandise, $115 rain day fund.  This leaves $230 for you to spend as you like.  A lot of people will come up with excuses of why they cannot do it.  Forget that!  If you have no plan, believe me, you will fail.  Now some days you may not need any money to spend which should occur at least once or twice a month then just put the money away in your rain day fund.  You will have weather day problems or emergencies where you cannot go out, then you have your rain day fund to fall back on.  Plan ahead and pay yourself.


Never mix new and used merchandise on your table.  Sell one or the other.  If you try and sell both at the same time, buyers will just bypass your table.  Buyers know what they want to purchase prior to visiting a flea market.  Some just buy used; some only want new.  Decide in advance what you will sell.  It takes planning and research and this equals profits.


Before pricing an item for resale, it is important that you know your true cost of that item.  To calculate true cost, add your shipping costs to your purchase.  Cost of purchase plus shipping costs divided by the amount of items you purchased).  This is the true cost of your purchase.  Can you sell the item 40-80% cheaper than a brick and mortar store front?  If you can, you have a winner to sell at the flea market.  You are then offering a true bargain.  Buyers will realize this which equals more sales for you.  This is word of mouth advertising from your buyers.  It’s great and it’s FREE.




Buy your merchandise in the off-season and stockpile your merchandise.  This is like money in the bank.  For an example:  On January 20, 2012, I purchased 350 pairs of new quality sunglasses for $199.00 which included delivery ($.57 a pair).  Great deal!  However, the seller sent me 415 pair (a bonus of 65 pair).  This will equal $325.00 more profit for me when selling a pair at $5.00 each.  Nice to get a raise; try it yourself.  If I waited to purchase these same glasses at the time the flea market season begins (which is usually April/May), the cost for me to purchase these same sunglasses would be $1.00 – $1.50 per pair.  And note this:  Just two weeks later, I checked the price of these glasses for purchase, and the price went up from $199.00 to $299.00 for 350 pair.  So, as the saying goes, you snooze, you lose.