Posts Tagged ‘merchandise’


If selling new items, do not go to an antique or collectors market. You are wasting your time. It is best to go to a market that has a mix of new, used and collectibles or a show like a county fair that draws thousands of people; provided that you have the proper merchandise to sell. For example: sunglasses, T-shirts, cell phone items, food, etc. Farmers markets are mostly for fresh vegetables, fruits and baked goods. New or used merchandise will not sell at farmers markets. Shows are good if you sell the proper merchandise like everyone else there is selling. Watch your set up cost at shows, fairs, etc. This is where research and time comes in. Check it out first and ask questions.

The people who are running the show or event will always say it is great – watch out – never go set up to sell without doing your homework. Your wallet will show the results. Talk to vendors who sold there and find out what they sold and decide if the cost to set up and traffic will be worth your time. The grass always looks greener on the other side, but 90% of the time it isn’t. As I said before, moving around to different markets every Sunday in a cycle like 4-6 weeks, then start over again. This produces the best results with a higher income.



1. Appearance is number one. Choose bright colors, arrange merchandise neatly.
2. Speak to buyers within 20 seconds, otherwise, lose the sale.
3. Offer extra services others do not. Use poster board with clear lamination to protect your signs.
4. Attach 3’x5’ flags (of your choice) to your tent. They work. I have used them for over ten years now.
5. All merchandise must be clean (new or used).
6. Stay away from knock-offs.
7. Offer at least two price points – single and multiples.
8. Work with people on large purchases and adjust your selling price. Listen to what the buyer wants.
9. Consider moving around to different markets every week (your sales will increase). You will need help with this.
10. Try to sell items people want and need; this is where research comes in. Stay away from basic used household items. In most cases they have little to no value.
11. Be prepared prior to going out – check over your truck, merchandise, equipment, etc. Also, plan for rain. Have plastic covers cut to size to protect your merchandise.
12. Have plenty of change – $50 is normally enough and use a nail apron. Never leave a money box out in clear view.
13. Make friends with other professional vendors – get their phone numbers.


1. Used, dirty household items — who wants to buy other people’s dirt? There are a lot of non professional vendors selling this every week. These sellers are lazy when it comes to cleaning household items.
2. Cheap dollar store junk.
3. Out-dated food.
4. Knock off merchandise. Watch out for plains clothes police or U.S. Marshals. They are usually at larger markets looking for vendors that sell knock offs. Then the police will get involved.
5. Items that several vendors are selling. For example, (applies to smaller markets–up to 200 vendors) if 5-8 vendors are selling sunglasses, forget selling sunglasses unless you low-ball the price, and then you will not make a profit. No one wins except the buyers. Now at larger markets with 500 vendors or more, it won’t matter since it’s a much bigger market. Try to get a spot near food vendors, rest rooms or customer parking. Try different spots and see which is the better traffic area.

You will never have a market with no competition in most cases, and that’s okay. Getting a good location is the key. On making profits you need to learn how to buy. First, buy the entire deal that will give you the lowest buying price. Even if it is too much for you, you can wholesale some of the excess to other vendors. Try to double your cost if possible. Note: you do not want to sell merchandise that you sell yourself to other vendors at the same market. Stay away from this or you will start a price war and everyone loses money.

Make sure you check with the markets to see if they allow the merchandise you want to sell.


There are deals out there, and that is where research comes in by searching the web on sites like Craigslist and other vendors, etc. Be prepared to buy and always have cash in your pocket or enough to put some money down on a deal. If you need time to think about a good deal, forget it, it will be gone and then you lose. Always buy the whole deal even if it is more than you need. You can always wholesale some of the merchandise to other vendors from other markets. You need to know basic negotiating skills. First, ask questions, then figure out the money.   Second, ask what they want, then shut up. Even if they say what will you give, say how much do you want. Whoever speaks first looses involving merchandise and money deals. Buying low puts you in control, and in turn, you can resell the merchandise for less than a store does making good profits for yourself. Always go and see the merchandise first hand in person when dealing with vendors or anyone from Craigslist. Check everything out, which means each and every case or box. Take your time. If the seller wants to rush you, forget the deal or be cautious — something may be wrong. It’s your money — be careful how you spend it. Not all deals you will find will work out. Here’s one example:

This vendor had 100 cases of Hershey chocolate candy bars. He wanted $20 per case of 144 bars, what $.14 each, which is dirt cheap. Too cheap! I pulled a case out of the middle of the skid and opened it up to find white powder. The candy was two years old and worth nothing.

When you are the buyer beware and trust no one. If you have the cash to buy, then stay in control. This one vendor is a crook and there are many of them out there. Not everyone is honest. Most people in this business are honest, but it only takes a few to ruin it. If you ever run across a seller-vendor like this, spread the word.




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.


The season will be starting in March/April for this year.  Time to plan, set your goals, purchase merchandise and get your set-up in order.  This year at the beginning of the season should be good in the northern states.  This past winter has been one of the worst on record.  People are tired of being cooped up indoors.  Take advantage of it now.

As stated before, buy large volumes of merchandise at low prices.  It is better to have fewer items but in large quantities displayed.  This draws attention.  Add large hand-made poster board signs in color. Appearance is everything.  Your selling price is number two in priority.  Try to sell items people want and need and price it at 30%-50% less than a brick and mortar store (based on your buying skills).  It can be done with research and time and with contacting suppliers and deals from Craigslist, etc.  You need to make a profit of 300%-900%; otherwise, you lose money period!

Research takes time, but will make you money in the long run.  When you locate a good supplier offering you great prices and service, keep it to yourself.  In other words, keep your month shut and don’t share it with anyone.  Never reveal your sources to anyone.  That is money in the bank.

This past winter I tested an indoor market for one month selling quality home-made chocolates at 40% less than a brick and mortar store sells for.  Sales were poor at best.  I survived by selling car charges.  The only people who make money at indoor markets are the landlords.  You see the same people (shoppers) every week.  There is very limited traffic and the weather plays a major role in whether customers venture out to shop.  The bottom line is that it is not worth your time.  Outside markets on Sundays are the best by far.

Here is an example of buying right —

I purchased some merchandise on February 24, 2014 for $358.95 (items people need and want).  My profits from these items, which will sell out by September of 2014, will be $3,160.00, which is a profit margin of $880%.  Now do you get the point?

Remember, there are winners and losers – only settle to be a winner.  Best of luck to you in the coming season.

Note:  Deal in cash on all sales if you are selling merchandise at steep discounts.  Why pay to accept credit cards?  or bad checks?

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.