Posts Tagged ‘flea markets’


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.


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.


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.

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.


Stay away from all knock off merchandise!  Yes, you can purchase a lot of knock off merchandise for cheap.  Beware!  The authentic companies employ undercover people, US Marshalls, and local police departments to check flea markets for this kind of stuff and more so than ever before.  When you get caught, and you will, they will arrest YOU, confiscate YOUR merchandise, YOUR money, and YOUR truck.  There goes your profits!  And YOU go to court.  Is is worth it?  There are tons of deals to be had, spend the time to do your research and buy quality items that people need and want.


Flea Marketing Success

In regards to the new ebook I published, there are a lot of trade secrets that are revealed to you.  In my 30 plus years in this business, I have seen what works, why it works and how it works in order to be successful at marketing and selling at flea markets, events and shows.  All of the information written is current, and if you apply the methods I have used, you, too, can be successful at marketing or selling at any flea market, event or show.