Becoming a vendor at a flea market can be a great way to earn a living or a great way to make extra money when you need it. In most areas around the country there is at least one flea market held every weekend that is packed with customers looking for their next bargain. Becoming a successful flea market vendor is easy if you know and follow these basic tips on how to sell products at flea markets.
Deciding What to Sell
The most economical way to acquire product to sell at your first flea market is to simply take a walk around your home just like you would if you were going to have a garage or yard sale. Anything and everything can be sold at a flea market so no matter how large or small the item, if you don't want it anymore, take it to the market.
Some items will sell better at one market than another depending on the customer base and their interests. VHS movies and Xbox games may be a hot seller every weekend at one market while Longaberger baskets and Home Interiors pictures will sell well at another. It may take a few weekends to determine what sells well at the flea market in your area but don't become discouraged. Once you have figured it out, you could have an excellent income outlet at your fingertips.
The beauty of selling things at the flea market is that you can sell just about anything that can be legally sold in your area. It's not unusual to see livestock and vegetable plants for sale right next to used clothing, jewelry and antiques. One of the great things about the flea market is that it really is a cornucopia of products.
How to Price Your Products for a Flea Market
Deciding how much to charge for an item can be challenging for anyone who is not familiar with flea markets and how they work. Pricing something too high will leave the item in the seller's possession for an extended period of time. Pricing something too low will take money out of the seller's pocket.
Finding the middle ground for each type of item will depend on the area of the country that your are in. A used DVD may easily sell for $8.00 in California but in Illinois you would be lucky to get $2.00 for the same title. It's best to do a little research, visit at least one flea market to check out the pricing and talk to a couple of the current vendors to see what information they are willing to share with you. Most are quite friendly and are willing to tell you a lot, but of course not all, of what they know when it comes to pricing their products correctly for the area.
If you choose to sell in the collectibles or antiques areas, you'll also want to have at least one reference source on hand so you can check and see what the listed value of that item is before putting it up for sale. These markets change drastically with the economy and what is popular at the moment. Something that sold for quite a bit of money ten years ago may not be worth hardly anything today.
Watch the video to see flea market displays and what they sell in Bargersville, Indiana.
How to Display Products at a Flea Market
The object of the exercise is to sell the items and make money. If the product is not displayed properly, your area can start to look like a hot mess pretty quick. While you don't have to use elaborate displays like a department store, some sense of organization and eye appeal will help make the products look more interesting to customers passing by your area.
Each vendor has their own method of display, depending on what they are selling. Portable tables are a staple for regular vendors in addition to portable clothes racks for easily selling clothing and anything that needs to be placed on a hanger. Occasionally a vendor will spread out a large tarp and place products such as lawn care equipment, toys and other larger items on the tarp to help those products stand out and be noticed.
The main things to remember when putting together your area at the flea market are to keep it organized and keep it as clean as possible. No one wants to purchase a baby's high chair that has the previous baby's mess all over it.
Once you have everything set up, step outside your area into the aisle and take a look. If you were a customer, would what you are looking at create curiosity and make you want to go take a closer look? If the answer is yes, then you are ready to go. If the answer is no, move a few things around and do it again. Eventually you will have it down to a science and setting up a successful display will take no time at all.
How to Handle Price Hagglers
Hagglers show up at flea markets in addition to garage and yard sales. Sometimes these individuals are professional buyers and sometimes they are people who just want to feel like they are getting the best deal possible. There's really nothing wrong with either one but occasionally the haggler can become extremely annoying in their persistence. When you mother used to say that there is one in every crowd she was exactly right.
Price negotiation is part of selling at the flea market and as a vendor, you should expect it and be open to it in order to be successful. Most hagglers will offer a lower price on the item and it really is up to you to either take it or present a counter price. Depending on the price difference, this may go on for a few seconds until they either purchase the item or decide to put it down and move on.
Occasionally there is the aggressive haggler. With these individuals you really have to pay close attention to what they are doing. I had one that offered me extremely low prices for a few items and then attempted to lump them all together and offer me the same individual prices added together for the entire lot. This is a tactic that is used to make the deal sound better for the seller and unfortunately some vendors do fall for it. If you don't pay attention when an individual does this you can end up losing money on your items.
You'll have price hagglers throughout the day but will notice that there are quite a few first thing in the morning when you are setting your area up. The things you'll want to remember is that you just got there, you are just now sitting your things out and those items have the entire day to be seen and purchased by many other people. Do you really want to let it go for a cheaper price right out the box? If someone is in my area first thing and offering me lower prices on my items, I politely tell them to come back later in the afternoon and if the item hasn't sold then we can talk. Items targeted by price hagglers first thing have a good chance of selling for asking price or really close to it sometime throughout the day.
Above All Else, Enjoy the Day!
Your attitude as a vendor can make or break a sale. Enjoy your day because after all, you are making money and who doesn't like to do that?
Be open to talking with anyone that enters your area. A simple smile and conversation can help to close the sale if someone is looking at one of your products and trying to decide if they will buy it. Be nice, happy and excited to be there and your attitude in combination with your great products that you are offering will create an area that regulars to the market will enjoy visiting and buying from each and every weekend.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Angela Hobbs from The TARDIS on November 11, 2019:
Wish there were more of them where I am now!
Helena Ricketts (author) from Indiana on July 23, 2012:
The flea markets are a riot and so much fun! Yes, you should go!
Virginia Kearney from United States on July 17, 2012:
We have a flea market in town but I haven't gone to it in years--however, I was just telling my husband we ought to go soon! So your article is a good reminder. I've done many garage sales but not flea market selling. Thanks for the good information.
serendipitypalace on July 14, 2012:
We did several weekly flea markets last year. On day could be $300 the next $90. Salt and pepper shakers were a big sale, old chairs in reasonably good condition, children's books and picnic items. Its just having the right people come around looking for items you have on sale. Like being at the right place right time. Patience and having the energy to set up and stay in place all day can be difficult.
Paul Richard Kuehn from Udorn City, Thailand on July 14, 2012:
This is a great useful article for anyone who wants to sell at flea markets. About 25 years ago my ex-wife and I regularly sold on the weekends at flea markets in Maryland. We arrived early around 6:00 so we could get a good place to set up. Most of our customers came in the early morning before it started to get hot. We ran into a lot of hagglers and at times I know we almost gave things away. For a time we would buy things at estate sales and then resell them at the flea markets. We never made that much money, but the wife enjoyed the experience. Voted up and sharing.
Helena Ricketts (author) from Indiana on July 14, 2012:
Seeker7- Yes, they can be VERY aggressive and rude. I've had a few of them in my booth over the years and it's the one thing that annoys me beyond belief at the market. :)
Moonlake- That's too bad about the mixer. I was going to address price tags vs. no price tags on here but there are SO many reasons why both options work that I decided to wait and write about it another time. I've noticed that a lot of vendors don't use price tags. I understand why you won't purchase if there isn't a price tag, a lot of customers feel the same way.
Barreto10135- Thanks! :)
Helen Murphy Howell from Fife, Scotland on July 14, 2012:
This was a really enjoyable hub! I love flea markets as a buyer - it's amazing what you can pick up there. Most of the jars and other storage items for my crafts and cross-stitch came from flea markets and I just patched them up and decorated them!
It's true about some hagglers being very aggressive - I would say that some are even downright rude! The vendors that I know, thankfully, are very experienced and know how to handle these twats!
A very absorbing and enjoyable read + voted up!!
moonlake from America on July 13, 2012:
We stopped at a flea market yesterday and I saw an old kitchen aid mixer I wanted but they didn't have any pricing on their stuff. I won't buy if there's no prices. I love flea markets and I know what hard work it is to be vendor. I have a friend that does this all summer. Enjoyed your hub and lots of good information. Voted up and Shared.
Barreto10135 from San Antonio Texas on July 13, 2012:
This is a great article. Will use your guidance when we down size to our new home.