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FLEA MARKETS AND SWAP MEETS: YOUR GUIDE TO EASY PROFITS!

Updated on January 9, 2014

HOW TO START YOUR OWN PROFITABLE AND SUCCESSFUL FLEA MARKET BUSINESS!

STEVEN BROWN, THE FLEA MARKET GURU PRESENTS:

"HOW TO SURVIVE -- and THRIVE ! -- IN TODAY'S DIFFICULT ECONOMY"

Welcome to this web site! I'm a veteran flea market seller / vendor with over 20 years experience. I'll share with you some of my secrets of to build your own successful flea market business.

HOW TO START A PROFITABLE AND SUCCESSFUL FLEA MARKET BUSINESS

THE FLEA MARKET GURU REVEALS HIS SECRETS !

Have you seen or heard about that TV show where a masked magician reveals the closely-held, long-hidden secrets to the magic tricks used by professional magicians? Flea market vendors/sellers are like professional magicians. They are loath to reveal any of their trade secrets. I'm not faulting them. It takes many years of selling experience to learn what it takes to be successful selling at flea markets. Vendors do not reveal their secrets because it took them too many years to learn, they don't want additional competition and they don't want anyone to know their particular secrets. I'm here to change that.

Wouldn't you like to be successful and profitable business selling at flea markets? Of course you would! Here you'll find the secrets of what it takes to be a successful seller at flea markets & swap meets. I'm not holding anything back!

By all means, don't forget to have FUN! A dear friend, Asha Allison, once said "Living is simplicity...this life is meant for FUN!"

Flea market vendors thrive during bad economic times. Why not YOU? This web site will help guide you through this process.

I love flea markets! They are so much FUN, a grand adventure! I really, really enjoy meeting people from all walks of life, bargaining, learning and sharing stories. There's the fun of making money. And saving money! There's also the anticipation and excitement of discovering overlooked treasures.

~ Steven Brown ~ The Flea Market Guru ~

MY SECRET TO FINDING THE VALUE FOR ALMOST ANYTHING!

You will find that more often than not the only time you will have to conduct research on your new items is during the evening. Thus your only information resource(s) will be from the Internet. Any you've probably discovered already, to find information you can use out of a gazillion search engine results is incredibly daunting, to say the least!

Let's look at a likely scenario: in addition to your ongoing flea market business you purchase someone's entire estate. Lets assume that the person was a "pack-rat" (i.e. hoarder) and they have an abundance of items. Your job is to sort it all out and discover what's valuable (and what's not). If you find yourself in such a position you will be quickly overwhelmed, especially if you are not well-versed in identifying and valuing antique items (don't feel bad, very few folks have this skill). You can easily wind up with 20 (or more !) entirely different categories of antiques.

That is when you want to get your hands on as many collectible and antique identification / pricing guides as quickly as possible. But if you buy the guides new from the publisher, or from a local bookstore, you will easily spend thousands of dollars.

You can save yourself a lot of trouble -- and endless frustration -- by using the pricing guides below which are linked directly to Amazon.com. Often you can receive a significant discount. And you can receive a greater discount if the price guide is classified as "used" (i.e. previously owned). Amazon is very specific in describing the exact condition of their used books. I'll look for used copies that do not have a lot of highlighting or hand-written notes, and sometimes I'll order pricing guides that are perhaps a couple of years old.

Here's a small sample of what is available to you with Amazon.com. And in the section that follows you'll find a Free Tool: Your Own Exclusive, Personal Custom Search Engine for Amazon.com!

Kovels' Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide 2013: America's Bestselling Antiques Annual (Kovels' Antiques & Collectibles Price List)
Kovels' Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide 2013: America's Bestselling Antiques Annual (Kovels' Antiques & Collectibles Price List)

This is a good place to start! At the very least you'll learn what the approximate value of your antique items are. This enables you to avoid under-pricing or over-pricing your antiques.

 
All About Antique Silver with International Hallmarks
All About Antique Silver with International Hallmarks

With any antique silver pieces, you must be able to correctly identify the Maker's Mark. Without this essential information the piece is worth only its scrap value for its silver, regardless of how old it is. But once you can identify its origin and when it was manufactured, THEN you can command -- and get -- it's full value.

 
Antiques 101: A Crash Course in Everything Antique
Antiques 101: A Crash Course in Everything Antique

You'll be surprised how much there is to learn about antiques. This book provides you with a good solid basis from which to start -- or fill in any missing gaps in your knowledge. I've been in this business 20+ years and I'm still learning!

 
Goldmine Record Album Price Guide
Goldmine Record Album Price Guide

You won't believe how many years it took me to discover this great resource (you can read about it in the next section). In the meantime, if you buy and sell vinyl records GET THIS PRICE GUIDE -- you be happy you did!

 
"Antiques Roadshow" Pocket Guide: Pottery and Porcelain
"Antiques Roadshow" Pocket Guide: Pottery and Porcelain

Pocket Guides by Antiques Roadshow: I LOVE them! TIP ~ read the guide BEFORE going out to buy such items. Because when the seller sees you perusing a price guide they'll naturally think they've overlooked something important -- and then they'll raise the price on the item you're interested in. Use the strategy of poker players: Never Tip Your Hand!

 

WHATS IT REALLY WORTH?

So How Much Money $$$ Can I Get For My Stuff?

Have you ever tried to sell something that you knew was valuable - but no one would buy it?

There is ONE CARDINAL RULE in the flea market business that you cannot afford to ignore:

~ An item -- Any Item -- is worth ONLY WHAT SOMEONE WILL PAY YOU FOR IT ~

It's a hard rule, to be sure. Nevertheless, this is a rule that you cannot afford to ignore. This is where the pricing of your merchandise is of vital importance. It can be a challenge to determine what price to ask for things you're selling. It's really a question of what buyers are actually willing to pay for your merchandise.

For pricing your merchandise you want to do this well in advance of the market--and be sure to set the prices for Everything you'll be selling. Also, some of your prices may change from week to week, depending on which market you're selling at.

A reader posted this question:

"I found a great deal of good info from this lens, but can you clarify on the pricing thing? I buy from a wholesaler and my retail is usually 3x the wholesale. If I go by your 50% rule, I'd have to sell at a high volume to make any decent profit. Should I price 5x higher than what I bought at wholesale? Thank you."

~Tom

The pricing information I have here are GUIDELINES only. If you have a price strategy that is working well (such as Tom's 3x above wholesale), by all means stick with it.

If you regularly purchase most of your stock from the same wholesalers, this usually eliminates the need for alternative pricing strategies. Since you know what your cost is and what the market will bear, you'll be safe with a simple markup policy.

If, however, you make your merchandise purchases from diverse sources other than traditional wholesalers, you'll find that the simple mark-up process will not apply. That's where the strategies presented here come into play.

A good rule of thumb for pricing any merchandise which can be purchased in retail stores: The magic selling price seems to be about 65%-75% less than an item's retail price. I've experimented with pricing merchandise at half of its retail price--and failed miserably. Buyers (especially women) will Not buy anything from a flea market when they know they can buy it on when it's on sale for a similar price in a store. For example, say you're asking $18 for a "doohicky" (whatever that is!) which sells for $25 in stores. No one will buy it from you--but they will buy it from the store when it goes on sale for $18. The same principle applies even if a "doohicky" retails for $250 and you're asking $180 for it: No Sale.

~ TIP ~

You are not always going to have lots of buyers, even if thousands of people are attending your event. That being said, if someone is haggling with you--and they walk away Without the Item--you've LOST. Whenever this occurs, I'll often call out to the person "OK, I'll give it to you for X dollars." -- as long as this amount is exactly what they offered then they'll buy it. Besides, you're still making a profit. On a slow selling day (which usually means low sales) this technique can turn your day around and provide you with greater sales and therefore greater profits.

With any potential buyer, take the time to find a price you'll both be comfortable with. Create a "Win-Win" transaction.

~ TIP ~

Sometimes buyers at flea markets think that they're getting a good deal only if they can beat the seller down to the lowest possible price. Use some common sense here and avoid these very rude and inconsiderate individuals! Don't waste your time haggling with them or even talking with them because they will distract you from communicating with legitimate buyers. If you do choose to engage with and interact with this type of person, you'll find that they leave behind a palatable psychic garbage dump of Negative Energy in their wake. This negative energy is hard to get rid of and it will repel potential buyers.

For heaven's sake, you need to make a living too. I'll never forget the women came back repeatedly one afternoon, offering me .35 cents for a $5 item. I've long forgotten what the item was--but I've never forgotten that woman!

OK, SO HOW MUCH MONEY CAN I REALLY MAKE?

"You Make Your Profit When You Make Your Purchase"

"You make your profit when you make your purchase." ~ Long-time Flea Market Vendor

By now you're probably muttering under your breath "For heaven's sake, Mr. Brown, WILL YOU TELL ME HOW MUCH PROFIT I CAN MAKE!"

Nope. I cannot tell you how much profit you will make; if I did I'd be lying to you. No one can tell you how much profit you can/will make. However, if you follow my advice you will make a profit! How much profit you'll make is entirely up to you. Your profit begins long before you show up at the flea market. Your profit begins at the moment you purchase inventory to resell. The advice quoted above has guided me for many years. When you buy merchandise for resale, if you're able to purchase it at a low enough price, you'll be making a profit no matter price you sell it for. That old-timer made a very good living by selling a huge volumes of tools that he purchased at auctions for pennies (or less) on the dollar. He really knew his business!

Ok! Here's my some "Rule-of-Thumb" guidelines for determining how much of a mark-up your merchandise:

"Five-to-One" / "5:1". With items that I purchase to resell my goal is to resell it for at least 5 times what I paid for it. This is also a good rule of thumb to use for making purchases of individual items (at garage sales, estate sales, etc.) to sell later. If you use anything less than 5:1 markup you'll find one (or more) of the following results. You'll be able to cover your fuel and expenses...but you'll have very little profit at the end of the day. And you won't have sufficient reserve funds for purchasing additional merchandise. Either of these two scenarios can - and eventually will if not corrected - bring your business to an abrupt halt.

You won't always be able to get a 5:1 return. When something does not sell after a couple of flea markets, then it's time to drop the price. You'll learn as you go. And that's part of the fun! Also, lowering the price converts those items into cash, which allows you to purchase fresh inventory!

~ TIP ~

It is very important that you NOT focus on "How much money" you want to make WHILE you're selling. As Kenny Roger's advises in his song 'The Gambler': "You don't count your money when you're sitting at the table. You count your money when the dealing's done." This same advice applies to selling at flea markets.

Be careful not to get too emotionally attached to anything you're selling (especially if you're selling personal possessions). This alone makes it Very Hard to sell! You may cherish it and you may feel your price is justified (as it well may be). But do not neglect the FIRST CARDINAL RULE of flea market selling:

~ Any Item is Worth ONLY What Someone Will Pay You For It. ~
(see WHAT'S IT REALLY WORTH?)

Kenny Rogers: "The Gambler"

"...You Never Count Your Money,

When You're Sittin' at the Table,

There'll be Time Enough for Ccounting,

When the Dealings Done."

AWNING, AWNING, WHO NEEDS AN AWNING? ~ YOU DO! ~

Awning / Canopy / Gazebo / Screen Room / Shade Room / Merchandise Tent

"Do I Really Need an Awning / Canopy?" I'll answer this question with another question:

QUESTION: In how short of a time would it take for you to get heat stroke by standing outside on a hot day on hot pavement with no shade???

ANSWER: Don't answer that question -- just get thee a canopy! Because without one you can easily get heat stroke.

When you are selling at any open-air market -- without any means of shade -- you are essentially placing yourself inside a HOT OVEN all day. No matter what the air temperature is, the temperature of the pavement will be hotter. The heat from the pavement penetrates up through the soles of your shoes, up through your feet, and shoots directly up into your torso, raising your body's vital core temperature to Dangerous levels. Even if you're wearing a wide-brimmed hat, you'll still getting "fried" if you are not protected by constant shade. And without any shade even drinking lots of water will not prevent your body's core temperature from rising dangerously (although you DO want to drink lots of water throughout the day even when you're in the shade).

My neighbor, a nurse, likes to remind me to stay out of the sun as much as possible whenever I'm selling. She's seeing an increasing number of skin cancer cases than ever before -- and this is in a region of the United States that historically does not have skin cancer. Have I convinced you yet of the necessity of getting a canopy?

There are 3 main types of canopies you can use for your selling booth. The first type is a shade canopy with plastic poles. The second is a pole-and-tarp awning. The third type is a pop-up awning. If you are only going to sell once or twice you can get by with a plastic pole canopy. But make sure YOU stay under it's shade, since they provide only a small area of shade.

For serious sellers, investing in a pole-and-tarp or pop-up type of canopy is a must.

Pictured above is a pop-up canopy/awning I once used. When folded-up it stands a little under 5 feet tall with a base of 12 square inches. It fits easily into a sub-compact car!

POLE-AND-TARP AWNINGS:

These are less expensive than pop-up style awnings. They're made from 1/2" metal poles and covered with a tarp. I started out using a pole and tarp awning. However, I disliked the weight--the poles alone weigh twice as much as an instant pop-up canopy/awning. That being said, if you need to cover an extra large selling area, Pole-and-Tarps are the best way to go.

TARP / COVER GUIDELINES (FOR POLE-AND-TARP AWNINGS):

PLASTIC TARPS:

no, No, NO! Plastic tarps HOLD the heat in (been there, done that! )

BLUE TARPS, however, are perfect to use. They are woven together and the weave allows the hot air to escape (um, no puns intended! ). Also they're handy to use as drop cloths, protecting your merchandise from the dirt/grime that's always on the ground. Buyers much prefer to browse items displayed on drop cloths instead of on the bare ground.

SILVER-COLORED TARPS are the BEST: they reflect light and heat, and retains the shade's cool air.

~ TIP ~

All pop-up awnings/canopies are made the same, right? Wrong! And it is a BIG difference. Inexpensive pop-up canopies have two drawbacks: 1. Their frames are not very strong; 2. Their legs are splayed (like the one in the photograph above).

The splayed legs present several problems. The front two legs will ALWAYS stick out and trip people as they walk by or browse your goods. In the above photograph I avoided this hazard by leaning an antique tobaggan against the leg on the right (besides, where else could you get an antique toboggan in the middle of summer?). This method may not always work, depending upon the arrangement of your tables,etc. More importantly, these two exposed legs cause you to lose valuable selling space. You also cannot put such awnings next to each other because of the difficulty with the legs.

Another drawback to splayed legs is that it is difficult to attach tie-down weights to them. Without proper anchoring the entire canopy can take off like a kite in strong gusts of wind. I've seen it happen. Once the awning goes airborne the frames warp from the stress and are quickly rendered useless.

If you are just starting out selling at flea markets and have little money to invest, I suggest starting with the splayed-leg type of awning. They're generally the least expensive awnings (under $100) and can be found at most hardware and sporting good stores. Just be careful and anchor it well. Be gentle with it and it will serve you well.

The other--and much preferred--style of pop-up awning (picture below) has an extremely strong, reinforced frame. I've seen vendors hang clothes from three sides of the canopy, adding a load of about 100 lbs to each side. Talk about strong frame! With the other, splayed-leg style I didn't dare hang any load of more than 10 lbs. from each side!

You can see from the photo below that this style has STRAIT legs. This make a Big Difference overall strength of the frame (and potential buyers will not trip over the legs!). You can easily use two or more of these awnings side by side to greatly increase your covered selling area.

Also, these canopies can be set-up in as little as 1-2 minutes (or in 5 minutes if I haven't had my morning coffee). Easy set-up means easy take-down. Which is important at the end of a long, hot, selling day...when you are dead tired, it only takes 4-5 minutes to collapse the canopy and put it in its storage bag!

Side panels are optional with some pop-up canopies. These side panels very useful for keeping out rain, providing shade and securing the contents if leaving the awning up overnight.

~ TIP ~

Here's how you can make your own inexpensive side panels for rain protection: get a roll of 3-4 mil. thick clear plastic sheeting at least 50 feet long...wrap it around at least 3 sides of the awning and secure it with spring clamps. It does a great job both of keeping you and your merchandise DRY while keeping you 'Open for Business' when it rains! While most of the other vendors get rained out.

Oh!...and always travel with 6 or more cheap (and I do mean cheap, they cost .99 cents and are good for one use only) clear plastic drop cloths. This way, if there is an imminent threat of rain, unroll the plastic over any exposed tables & merchandise. Tuck the ends under the table (or clamp the ends down). This keeps any exposed merchandise dry and keeps you open for business! When someone expresses interest in an item, just pull it out from under the plastic and hand it to them to examine.

Now, having said all that, I can't help but recall the time I sold during a long heatwave. Hot. 102 degrees in the shade. Not a cloud in the sky. While loading supplies I neglected to pack--for the very first time--any plastic tarps. Yep, it was hot all day long. Still 102 degrees when a thunderstorm quickly rolled in and unloaded its buckets of rain! I had to take down my booth and close up shop for lack of drop cloths (while the other vendors stayed open!).

~ TIP ~

Always check the weather forecast the day before an event.

AWNING / CANOPY WITH STRAIT LEGS

AWNING / CANOPY WITH STRAIT LEGS
AWNING / CANOPY WITH STRAIT LEGS

THEFT: HOW TO PREVENT IT

PUTTING A STOP TO THOSE "FIVE-FINGER DISCOUNTS"

Melinda submitted the following question:

"I am getting ready to sell jewelry at a local flea market. It is not anything real expensive but it is very pretty. I was wondering about how to protect my merchandise from being stolen? Because of the size of the merchandise, I think it would be easy to do. Any tips?"

This is a great question! Theft prevention is one important issue that all sellers must be vigilant of. You've heard the phrase "due diligence"? I call flea market theft prevention "Due Vigilance".

For new sellers, dealing with theft of merchandise -- and avoiding theft -- can be unnerving. To help remedy this here are some guidelines you can utilize:

The size of your merchandise does not matter to a thief. Certainly smaller items are easier to purloin. A thief once stole a heavy and bulky electric motor from me. It was the one thing I didn't bother to keep an eye on since I figured it was so bulky and heavy that no one would bother trying to steal it. Was I ever wrong!

When you lay out your tables, keep your expensive items located in a central area of the tables. Have the less valuable items on the outlying tables further away from you.

~ TIP ~

Here's my "2-1-2 Strategy" for theft prevention. When handing your Expensive Items to potential buyers, only give out TWO items at any ONE time to any TWO customers to examine. And always make eye contact with and acknowledge anyone waiting and tell them you'll "Be with them in a minute." (that's very important!) Meanwhile, keep your main attention focused on the folks handling your expensive goods. I have experimented with handing out expensive items to 3 customers at a time. This doesn't work because each person will have questions. Typically, each person will usually have 3 questions, so that's 9 questions you're busy fielding at the same time! Talk about confusing!

For selling at large markets, it's better to have a friend help you in the booth, particularly if there will be a lot of people attending your event. But do not deviate from the "2-1-2 Strategy". The larger the crowds, the more important this strategy is.

~ TIP ~

You have, haven't you (just say "Yes sir!" ), determined beforehand what prices you'll be asking for ALL of your merchandise?? If you haven't determined the asking price of any of your merchandise, DO NOT PUT IT OUT. If you try to price items "on the fly", the vultures (a.k.a professional buyers), sensing your confusion, will move in for the "kill" (a.k.a. buy your merchandise at a ridiculously low price).

OK, let's get back to the subject of thieves. By following the guidelines above, if the crooks are going to steal from you, they'll be forced to steal from your lower priced items from your outlying tables. Ahem, you have put those items that just won't sell out on your outermost tables, haven't you? (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).

~ TIP ~

Here's another scenario. Someone asks to see one of your expensive items (let's say it's a camera). You, of course, hand the camera to them to examine, while explaining its features. This "potential" buyer will then begin to yell:

"Are you CRAZY? This is the worst camera I've ever seen! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU? Look at what's wrong with it..." They will yell and wave their arms about frantically to grab the attention of anyone near your booth.

If this happens to you, KNOW that this is a set-up for an outright theft or a swindle! The FIRST step is to take a deep breath and force yourself to stay CALM. The SECOND thing you need to do is get the merchandise BACK in your hands with a minimum of fuss! Reach out for the camera and say "What part is broken?" While they point it out to you, say "Let me take a look at that" and forcefully (but not abruptly) pull it out of their hands and securely put it away OUT of their reach.

~ TIP ~

Tell the thwarted thief to take a hike and call security if you need to. Also alert your fellow vendors. For example, call out to them "HEY SAM! I'VE GOT A THIEF OVER HERE!" This really turns the tables on the thief! We all dislike thieves...and thieves really hate any attention. Upon hearing you call out this warning to your neighboring vendors, the thieves will instantly disappear!

Often thieves will work in pairs, where one creates a loud, distracting commotion, while their partner (with no one watching) steals whatever they want.

~ $1 TABLES - "ANYTHING HERE FOR ONE DOLLAR!"

"Bargain, Bargain...Who's Gotta Bargain?"

You've seen them...towards the end of any flea market: "$1 Tables" where any item on the table is only $1. This seems like a good idea, but in practice it fails miserably.

Towards the end of any flea market, vendors will stack s-l-o-w moving merchandise on a table with a "EVERYTHING $1" sign. One reason this fails is that the majority of vendors put their $1 Table up about the same time, late in the selling day. But more importantly, Buyers know that the vendors are trying to get rid of stuff that hasn't sold. And so they automatically ignore any $1 table.

~ TIP ~

Put your "$1 Table" up at the START of the flea market! Your merchandise will be fresh and will attract many bargain hunters. And you won't have any competition! Plan ahead for this and make sure you have plenty of items specifically to sell at this enticing price (i.e. don't discount your regular merchandise for your dollar table. Instead get additional merchandise just for this purpose. For example, stock up on paperbacks books, especially Romance novels).

This tactic draws more people to your booth, providing you with greater opportunities to:

1) Create a CROWD of Interested Buyers (crowds draw more people!).

2) Gets rid of your slow moving items.

3) Attracts more people -- people who will buy your higher-priced merchandise!

4) Make more money (but you already knew that!).

Vendors who apply this strategy report a significant increase in the numbers of folks coming to their booths.

Here's another "Magic" price: $20. Why? Because folks withdraw their money from Automatic Teller Machines in $20 increments and so they're automatically thinking in terms of what they can purchase for $20.

USS Pampanito
USS Pampanito

WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT TO FIND AT THE FLEA MARKET

Those, um, Unexpected Purchases!

This is the World War II submarine--the USS Pampanito. Although you can find practically anything for sale at the flea market - you will never find this particular item for sale!

The USS Pampanito is located at Pier 45 of the San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf Marina. It has been restored and is open for public tours. It is a fascinating piece of our American history.

To all of our Armed Forces -- past and present -- "Thank You so much!"

You just never know what you'll find at the flea market! Keep your eyes and your mind open to discovering overlooked treasures.

Here's the link for additional information about this historic submarine:

USS Pampanito


"How To Make More Money Selling At Flea Markets And Swap Meets" by Steven Brown: The Flea Market Guru is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Thanks for dropping by! This is THE place for sharing your experiences and tips. This section is for both buyers and sellers. Got a question, ask away! Have an experience you'd like to share? We'd love to read it!

LET'S TALK...! - Flea Market Discussions

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    • TheFleaMarketGuru profile image
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      TheFleaMarketGuru 4 years ago

      @iamanita007: That's a tough one. You may have done this already: whenever no one is manning your booth be sure to remove any expensive/valuable items. Leave behind only inexpensive items in the booth. That way if someone steals anything you won't be losing much of value. Come to think of it, most of us flea market vendors have boxes of items that haven't sold well. You might want to stock your tables etc. with these items before you leave the booth. This would get rid of merchandise that doesn't sell well and clear up some storage space.

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      iamanita007 4 years ago

      How do you deter theft at a year-round indoor flea market when no one mans the booth around the clock?

    • TheFleaMarketGuru profile image
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      TheFleaMarketGuru 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Dear Warren & Lauren: Please do NOT start out by investing your entire nest egg -- or even a significant part of it. Instead, just take a small portion of it and use that to purchase a variety of wholesale merchandise to resell. You want to find out first what kind of merchandise the public will buy. You'll also find that what is popular in the stores is usually not what sells at the flea market.

      I know it's very tempting to jump in with both feet and get started in this business. However, the first step is PATIENCE -- start small, find out what people are buying, and then expand. Remember too that what is a popular merchandise at one flea market won't necessarily be popular at another flea market venue. The patience you exercise at this point WILL pay you many dividends in the future.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      My wife and I are going to open a booth up but getting so many mixed reviews on were and what to sell. I know I just read your whole article. but still very indecisive on what I should do. investing basically my whole nest egg I really do not want to blow it.

    • TheFleaMarketGuru profile image
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      TheFleaMarketGuru 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi Cindy. If you haven't already you'll need to determine specifically what kinds of items you want to sell. This will make it easier to locate manufacturer's and/or wholesale outlets for those items; you'll need a State-issued resale licence for when purchasing from these sources. Ask your local library for a list of wholesale suppliers. Businesses that sell wholesale usually don't advertise that fact in the Yellow Pages; businesses that DO advertise that they DO sell wholesale usually (but not always) are using "Wholesale" as a cheap advertising gimmick.

      Are resale licences a necessity for selling at the flea market? Yes and No. "Yes" in that vendors do have the necessity of always be able to resupply their merchandise from the same supplier(s). "No" in regards to using your CREATIVITY and ability to "TTHINK OUTSIDE THE BOX". Many stores, factories, and companies have storerooms full of stuff that they no longer use. Start knocking on their doors and make inquires about their surplus goods (TIP: talk to the person who's the "Facility Manager" as they'll know what's available). You'll probably uncover a ton of inexpensive, resellable merchandise -- but be careful and don't go overboard. You want to make sure that that merchandise will sell at your flea market (Hint: start small and slowly expand).

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I want to start selling at the flea market, but I am having trouble finding items at wholesale prices. I have been looking online, but the "wholesalers" seem to be selling at retail prices. I haven't been able to find anything that I feel I could make a profit with. Where can I find a true wholesaler?

    • TheFleaMarketGuru profile image
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      TheFleaMarketGuru 4 years ago

      @TheFleaMarketGuru: Oops...! I need to clarify my above post. The suggestions I made were perfectly apt for someone who's new to flea markets. You are obviously a seasoned pro. Sorry if I came across as if I was talking down to you. But my point about visiting your local markets for advance research is valid in that flea markets change and evolve over time and sometimes not for the better. It's best to conduct current research in advance and find out what's selling, who's buying what (etc.), especially when one is planning to invest money into the endeavor.

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      forextrading2000 4 years ago

      I'd got impressed. Thank you

    • TheFleaMarketGuru profile image
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      TheFleaMarketGuru 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi Patty. You won't need any permits to sell at a flea market. The only time you'd need a permit is if you a food vendor. The organizers of the flea market are the ones who get the necessary permits, so you don't have to worry about any permits / licencing issues. Good luck with your endeavor...and let us know how it goes for you!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I am planning on renting my own sellimg space at a flea market/swapmeet and your information is very useful. What kind of permits will i need if i will be selling?

    • TheFleaMarketGuru profile image
      Author

      TheFleaMarketGuru 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi Robert. Happy New Year! It looks and sounds like you have a good source and selection of products to sell. But before you jump in with both feet, I'd like to advise caution. One of the first things you'll need to do is visit EACH of the 3 flea markets to do some advance research: TALK TO MANY VENDORS, ask them what sells well at that particular flea market; what are the best selling days (and the worst?); what are the good selling areas/spaces, (etc). With the info you gather be sure to write it down in a notebook afterwards (this notebook will become an wealth of knowledge that you'll find yourself forever benefiting from). Then, armed with this knowledge pick ONE flea market to start selling at. Start modestly, and as you gain experience and learn you''ll have a much better idea of when and how to expand.

      One warning about vending food: If you chose to vend food, do only that. Do not try to sell both food and regular merchandise at the same time as you'll find it impossible for numerous reasons. Each community is different and food vendors have very, very strict guidelines from the county / city / township / health department and permits and applications that they must comply with in order to sell food--including popcorn. Although food selling is very lucrative, it has very high start-up costs.

      But don't let anything deter you. Just start small, see what sells (and what doesn't sell) and expand from there. I wish you nothing but success in your flea market endeavors!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I really liked your page. I've been selling with my grandfather since I was three, so for 26 years I've felt at home in flea markets. With some medical problems causing unemployment for the past few years I'm now at a spot where I can afford to start my own selling. I've never been the one getting the stuff to sell and in charge of the books, so this is more new to me than friends and family seem to realize. There are three flea markets that are local here. I'm looking at working all three, so I'll be working five days a week like most people. I'm looking at selling sheet and comforter sets at one table and getting a helper to assist in selling work clothes at another table (gotta make sure I have some big and tall clothes too). While doing that I'll be working on getting a health permit so that I can sell fresh pork skins and popcorn. I understand the markets vary, but does this sound like something reasonable to work with? I considered getting work and diabetic socks to go with the work clothes, but I'm not sure. I guess if that fails I can work the farmer's markets and sell produce. Even though produce sells I hate dealing with stuff that is perishable, but I'm willing to bite the bullet if it means a steady income.

      Thank you for any help you can provide.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: The best sellers will vary from flea market to flea market, and they'll vary from season to season. That's why it's important to do advanced research for flea markets where you want to sell. Go to any market and see what items are the hottest sellers. And talk to both buyer's and sellers, they'll provide you with valuable information. Be VERY careful of fads, because by the time that merchandise shows up at the flea market, the popularity (and buyer's interest in) of that fad is usually on the downside.

    • simpletouchclea profile image

      simpletouchclea 5 years ago

      Great tips, loved the lens. I only became a flea market vendor in the past two years and find that many individuals in my area want quality products on a sales level. - Many other experienced vendors are experiencing the same. Several are turing to selling fresh produce, household need, and other necessity items. Not a place for fashion bags unless the are name brand.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      What are the top sellers at Flea Markets?

    • randomthings lm profile image

      randomthings lm 5 years ago

      Very goid info. Did flea market selling 15years sgo...loved it.

    • profile image

      EmergencyPrepar 5 years ago

      I used to do flea-markets about 20 years ago. I LOVED it. I did farely well, working Thurs-Sun. Unfortunately, my back went out and had to quit. My recommendation is to find light weight products to carry around or find a permanent booth if it is a good flea-market. It is important to find a market that has traffic. Don't waste your time at one with little foot traffic just because the spot is cheap.

    • FantasticVoyages profile image

      Fantastic Voyages 5 years ago from Texas

      Interesting article, with great information! Thank so much for sharing it!

    • profile image

      ekkoautos 5 years ago

      In today's difficult economy, many people think of the way to save money while purchasing something. Flea market will be a good place to shop things. Yes, your lens make sense.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I need help! I have an antique singer sewing machine with the specialty crest that would usually sell for a couple thousand dollars but how much should i price it at a flea market? help please!!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I'm investigating the sale of retro candy @ a large flea in town that runs Fri., Sat., & Sun.I need all the help I can get. One ? I have, that you touched upon but for more expensive items is theft. You rent the booth & can display anyway you choose. I guess that would be the key is displaying so little hands can't lift the candy. Have any suggestions please let me know. Great site by the way.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Thank you. You made my visit here enjoyable. Thanks again. Cj bluerock59@yahoo.com

    • BusinessSarah profile image

      BusinessSarah 6 years ago

      I love shopping a flea markets -- it was fascinating to learn a little about the seller side of it. Thanks for the great lens!

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 6 years ago from Land of Aloha

      I love shopping at swap meets and flea markets. You just never know what you'll find. :)

    • profile image

      Ahansome 6 years ago

      I meant "weren't answered." Yeah, I'm a little anal. :)

    • profile image

      Ahansome 6 years ago

      A lot of great info, and although you answered questions that I hadn't even thought of yet (Thank you), I had two questions in mind when I approached your lens that wasn't answered. What type of products sell best, and where is the best place to look for those products at wholesale prices? Maybe you'll talk about that later, but for now, my quest to get these answers continues.

    • ScareYouDiva profile image

      ScareYouDiva 6 years ago

      Great tips - thanks.

    • Countryluthier profile image

      E L Seaton 6 years ago from Virginia

      There's Gold in that thaar lens. Incredible tips for the noobie to flea market. The tips about the drop cloths is spot on. Thanks for sharing these words of wisdom. Keep up the good work!

    • profile image

      ruben77 6 years ago

      a lot of useful tips. thank you.

    • profile image

      vanana 6 years ago

      thank you so much for your tips, i really enjoy car boot sales, and now i know where i went wrong, i think!!!

    • TheFleaMarketGuru profile image
      Author

      TheFleaMarketGuru 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi Lavette. Sorry for this very late reply to your inquiry. The BEST way to get vendors is to pass out flyers to vendors at other flea markets. Naturally, since you want them to come to you, you'll need to sell them on the benefits of your show (projected visitors, special features, and other specifics that will show them that they can make money at your show). To paraphrase Ray Loitta's character in the movie Field of Dreams, "They will come (IF they think they can make money).

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I am trying to plan an outdoor flea market event (i am the owner/show director of the flea market) but I am having a hard time finding vendors for the event..is there any way to reach out to vendors (all sorts & types) in the miami area...i have tryied posting my event on several websites already

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I am a swap meet coordinator for a high school. Need to get more customers. We do flyers, signs, and advertise in local free papers and on free internet sites. Do you have any other ideas?? Thank you for your time.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Nice Squidoo. I really enjoy reading what you wrote about. Chris

    • profile image

      dadbintheadmin 6 years ago

      Wonderful lens! Thank you for sharing all your tips, I appreciate it, as I'm planning to break into flea markets (and festivals, fairs, etc.) as a food vendor. Thanks especially for the tips on the canopies, that is especially invaluable!

    • profile image

      Craftybegonia 6 years ago

      Practical advice. Thanks for writing the lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Mr. Brown, I have an online store that hasn't sold a single item...I know you're a very busy man, but if you find the time please check my site and tell me if you think they will sell at a flea market; Thank you; my site is http://www.Jcsgifts.com

    • profile image

      spudmurphys 7 years ago

      Great page. I've got some great ideas I could use on here to help promote my street magic. Well done keep up the good work! Tim

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Excellent article about flea market fun. It is obvious that you truly enjoy this, and your sense of humor is wonderful. Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      bird122691 7 years ago

      where can i get those A-frame table legs?

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I like the list of help for your sales technique below. I show people how to use hypnotic mind control as sales techniques to easily close more sales you can check out my site at http://www.salestechniquesblog.com

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      nice lens, it really very hard to live in this economics while people right now is full of unemployed.

      Please visit my site: Magic Tricks Tutorial, Amazing Magic Tricks and

      Kids Magic Tricks

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I enjoyed this lens; Today was the first day of the new San Francisco Flea Market at Candlestick Park. Seeing as though so many folks are out of work, I thought it would be interesting to see what was on squidoo regarding flea market. You are a pro. And I wonder how long it took you to do this lens; it has such great information. It's obvious that this subject is your passion. Thank you.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      @anonymous: You can buy wholesale Mexican jumping beans at http://www.amazingbeans.com for less than $1.50 per box. They sell for $3.00 to $4.25 per box at stores and flea markets. Nice profit margin.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      @anonymous: How much do you buy them for and how much do you sell them for?

    • VarietyWriter2 profile image

      VarietyWriter2 7 years ago

      Blessed by a SquidAngel :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Mexican jumping beans sell really well at flea markets. You can buy Mexican jumping beans at http://www.amazingbeans.com

    • profile image

      Freelancers-MarketPlace 7 years ago

      Great post. I have also found a b2b auctions site which will allow you to auction your wholesale products. Auctions For Business. It's free so you can give it a try.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi I might be able to help you Steve. Email me at designerclothing at hotmail.com

      Thanks.

    • profile image

      squidadle 8 years ago

      Look here for more information on sturdy industrial pop up gazebos.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      [in reply to Johnny Mystic]

      I think it's cool. Very different. I would love to have someone beside me do something like that for the crowd. Good advertisement plus that's what makes the flea market so fun to go to. Likewise, you can promote merchandise relating to magical stuff. Good unique idea my friend. Go for it!

    • profile image

      coldwind 8 years ago

      I have bought flea market secrets exposed, it's a good product overall, you can read

      my review here =>> http://mypsreview.com/2009/06/flea-market-secrets-...

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I have a chance to rent large open spaces in the upper NY area from Landlords without present tenants. What's the best way to make a deal with him ? Flat fee? Pay a percentage of the gross (net?) rent I get from vendors? or what?? I want it to be win-win. Thanks.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Hey Steve

      I work for a company that sells a variety of different products, all of which would be great items to sell at a flea market. My question is now that i have all these different samples how can i find some one to sell them to, who will be able to sell it at these flea markets?

      Thanks

      Mo.

    • TheFleaMarketGuru profile image
      Author

      TheFleaMarketGuru 8 years ago

      Hi Johnny Mystic. I think you'll find that flea market vendors will love to have you sell nearby. The reason is that you will draw lots of children, who in turn pull in their parents. The more people gathering, the easier it is to sell stuff (especially when the whole family is present).

      The flea market is an excellent venue for a magician like yourself. Enjoy!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Hello folks, my name is Chris Robertson aka Johnny Mystic. I was wondering how vendors feel about magicians selling magic tricks at flea markets. Will the crowds being built by the magician make enemies with the other vendors?

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Any advice on good suppliers in the NJ area for a complete novice?

    • profile image

      moneyman17 9 years ago

      Nice lens ! very Informative ! i have bookmarked it ! Try

      Article Submission Free for getting Good online Traffic.Also visit my lens

      Articles Marketing

    • TheFleaMarketGuru profile image
      Author

      TheFleaMarketGuru 9 years ago

      Hi Kathy,

      You and your husband already have the right approach: chose your suppliers & merchandise carefully. You're also correct in not wanting to invest too much money initially. Start small, experiment, and see what sells. Once you've found something that sells well, that's the time to make higher volume purchases. Remember to have a range of merchandise, as each type of product will draw potential buyers to your booth.

      No doubt your husband knows tools, so maybe he knows of sources to get wholesale tools for reselling. Or even used tools, lots of folks cannot afford even discount tools.

      Good luck!

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Hello.

      My husband is a 44 year old brcik mason and it is taking a toll on him physically. We were considering flea market vending as a means to slowly get him out of the construction field. I have found some wholesale suppliers and we have a local flea market but I am looking for any advice to get it off the ground and profitable since we really need the income, it is not side work for us. Are there any suppliers that are better than others? We can't afford to make a huge initial investment. Thank you

    • TheFleaMarketGuru profile image
      Author

      TheFleaMarketGuru 9 years ago

      Tom (reply to Sept. 24, 2008 message):

      Thanks for your feedback on Cooper's book. Glad you liked it.

      As far as web sites where vendors swap information, I've never found one. You are better off taking a weekend and interviewing vendors. From them they'll let you know of other flea markets (often unadvertised). And they'll tell you which markets are the best for sales. Ask them too where the best selling spaces for the market(s) that you'd like to sell at.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Is there anywhere on the web where swap meet vendors can go to share advise, information on swap meets they've been to, et. al.? By the way, I bought a book by your recommendation, "How to Make Cash Money Selling at Swap Meets, Flea Markets, Etc." by Jordan L. Cooper and I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone who is thinking about becoming a swap meet vendor. Thanks again, Steven Curly Bear.

    • TheFleaMarketGuru profile image
      Author

      TheFleaMarketGuru 9 years ago

      Tom,

      The pricing information is best used as a guidelines only. In other words, it's not a "hard and fast" rule, so-to-speak. It provides (especially for new vendors) a good place to start. From there one can make adjustments and fit it to their specific needs.

      Since your 3x markup is already working for you I would advise staying with it. Plus, you know much better than anyone what prices will work at your specific selling venue(s).

      You've brought up a valuable point and I'm going to hilight it in the pricing section. Thank you!

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      I found a great deal of good info from this lens, but can you clarify on the pricing thing? I buy from a wholesaler and my retail is usually 3x the wholesale. If I go by your 50% rule, I'd have to sell at a high volume to make any decent profit. Should I price 5x higher than what I bought at wholesale? Thank you.

    • TheFleaMarketGuru profile image
      Author

      TheFleaMarketGuru 9 years ago

      Dear Jennifer,

      If you want to start your own swap meet/flea market you need to do a lot of preliminary research. You're better off using someone else's land instead of purchasing land for your venture. That way if it does not work out you're not stuck with the land.

      Part of the research requires talking to a LOT of vendors. Find out what your competition is (and where). Find out from them what makes for a good flea market and what causes them to choose one flea market over another.

      It's a BIG question you've asked--and a good one. Start with these suggestions and the rest will gradually fall into place.

      Happy Hunting!

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Hey I love the website! Good information! Boy is it hard as ever to get some good advice when It comes to swap meet secrets, I've tried and it is virtually impossible! I am about to become a vendor at a local flea market and I found your information to be very helpful in my ventures. Any good ideas for starting my own swap meet? Buy land or rent space? Getting potential vendors and also maybe some good advertising secrects? Thanks!

    • profile image

      anilg 9 years ago

      Nice lens. I as well have a lens that will help you make money online

    • TheFleaMarketGuru profile image
      Author

      TheFleaMarketGuru 9 years ago

      Hello Steven Curly Bear. I really enjoyed your

      site and I hope that you are as blessed as you

      have been to so many of your readers. I am just about to become a vendor, this weekend to be exact even though I know that we are to be anxious for nothing, I must admit that my nerves are getting the best of me. I've never really been much of a seller because I don't like pushing people but I really think that the merchandise I've chosen will virtually sell itself. I too am of Cherokee decent but I really don't know many of my family members from that side of my heritage, I sure would like to. Any way, just wanted to let you know that your site was invaluable and I thank you and pray for you and yours. --Linda (forwarded from email message. ~ by SCB)

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Thanks for the information. It was very useful.

    • TheFleaMarketGuru profile image
      Author

      TheFleaMarketGuru 9 years ago

      REPLY:

      Hi Debbie! You do not need any licenses to sell at swap meets or flea markets. However, if you want to sell at a street fair you do need a business license for that city and also a resale permit, otherwise you'll be barred from selling.

      Thanks for your kind words! Have fun!

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Hi I love your website i want to start selling at swap meets what licenses do i need and also do home parties i am in california .I use to sell on swap meets in england about 15yrs ago and i loved it. Also how do i find where there are like street fair to sell out any help would be great.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      I am wowed with the information found here. Most sites want to sell a book for less information on any topic. I have saved the site to favorites and as soon as I figure out the feed thing, I will probably sign up formally. Meantime, I am preparing to sell at an indoor flea market this spring, with the intent of unloading the excess in my life/house and possibly earn some money. I have some sewing skills so I am planning to sew some canvas bags for the buyers treasures. I will be back!...to read more as the time draws closer! fadeddenims501

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Great information and creative squidoo! I'm gonna do my 1st flea market in a few weeks and im hoping to god that i do good. I've been brokefor too long. Can anyone tell me what items sell good at flea markets? Im selling new itemsthat i got a wholesale price.

    • profile image

      Dayle_Medley 10 years ago

      Curly Bear this is a fantastic lens and the information is great. Two Thumbs up. I have rated your lens a 5. If you get a chance stop by Project Squid and say hello

    • Nara White Owl profile image

      Nara White Owl 10 years ago

      I love the flea market and yes I always look at the $1

      table or hope for $.50 the best is $.25 At the end of the day I've had a great day.

    • profile image

      anonymous 10 years ago

      sell nike shoes from china

      www.buyonusa.com

    • profile image

      JCP 10 years ago

      Great Job! It is fun creating isn't it? I LOVE Fea markets we have one in our town it is HUGE! Ever been to Wentzville, MO?

      Regaurds~

      JCP

    • profile image

      anonymous 10 years ago

      you too can be a webmaster CB...lol...

      keep up the good work!

    • IggyArt profile image

      IggyArt 10 years ago

      Good start on what should be a very informative lens. I rated it too. Please stop by and check my garage sale lens. https://hubpages.com/education/GarageSale4Ebay

      Thanks and good luck!

      Lynne

    • profile image

      anonymous 10 years ago

      Good start. What's it like to spend the day at the flea market? What types of products move well at flea markets? What equipment should I have to do a flea market? What are the pro's and con's of flea market business? Do new or used items sell best? Inquiring minds want to know.

    • profile image

      anonymous 10 years ago

      Hi Curly Bear. I love your website. I am so excited

      excited for you. Hey out there. Visit my

      husband's website. Better yet, come see us

      at the next flea market. See ya soon.