5 Insider Tips for Selling Your Stuff at Flea Markets

By Jessica Sommerfield

| Photographs By JackF

Fall is the time for yard sales and flea markets. So if you have stuff to get rid of, now’s the time to do it.

I’ve talked with people who have sold at flea markets, and I’ve learned from their experiences how to get the most out of it. Although the stakes aren’t usually that high or the competition that fierce at local flea markets (you’re just glad to get rid of stuff!), there are many little things that can make the difference between bringing home a pocket full of money or a trailer full of merchandise.

Here’s what I learned:

1. Arrive early and stay late.

The saying “the early bird gets the worm” also applies to flea markets. Setting up early allows you to draw attention from customers before others have set up their booths. And even though you’ll have lulls in business throughout the day (which might tempt you to close up shop early), there will probably be a rush at the end of the day as customers hurry to get the items they need before the market closes.

2. Be creative with your displays.

Well-placed merchandise can gather a crowd more quickly than a boring display that doesn’t allow customers to look, touch, pick up, and get involved in the shopping process. It doesn’t have to be fancy or even neat; some messy displays create the illusion of picked-through (read: desirable) merchandise!

Feature prominently the items you want to sell most, but cross-merchandise and even bundle less-appealing items to increase their chances of being purchased. For instance, creating “grab-bags” of miscellaneous small items makes customers feel like they’re getting a deal.

3. Be friendly, but not too friendly.

Vendors who sit and glower at their customers don’t shout “come buy stuff from me” with their body language. On the other end of the spectrum, some flea-market vendors go over the top with their salesmanship and make customers feel uncomfortable. Find a happy medium by smiling, greeting those who approach your table, and making conversation with them about topics other than the items you’re selling — unless, of course, they ask.

4. If a customer offers less, take it.

This is where knowing your market and the value of your items comes into play. If you have a very valuable item you know someone will eventually pay full price for, it’s fine to hold out. But don’t be stingy about your pricing for stuff that doesn’t matter. You’ll end up selling a lot less than you want to, and after all, selling is the whole point.

If you offer standardized, fixed prices on your regular merchandise, mix it up by sometimes throwing in sales. Someone who knows you normally sell your purses for $10 might stop if you discount them to $7 each.

5. Don’t forget to advertise.

If you’re a consistent flea-market vendor, it pays to advertise your business. Sites such as Craigslist are free advertising, as are social media networks. Use Facebook groups to post pictures of your wares, as well as information about your sales. Last, don’t forget about business cards, which are inexpensive and can remind your customers of your web or social media sites and hours of operation.

Selling merchandise as a flea-market vendor might only be something you do occasionally to get rid of excess clutter, or it might be an easy way to sell your homemade items. However frequently you decide to set up your weekend booth, use these tips to make the most of it.


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