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How to Have a Successful Flea Market Booth

Flea markets are an excellent way to turn a small investment into a lucrative business. If you can find the right flea market and right products, you can easily double, triple or quadruple your initial cash outlay. Depending on where you sell, the key to success will be matching what you sell to the people who come shopping for bargains.

1. Visit flea markets before you commit to a booth. Don’t be impressed by a flea market’s website and rely on customer traffic numbers or photos of large crowds with attractive booths and tables. Some flea markets have mandatory days and hours for vendors to maximize traffic for all exhibitors -- visit flea markets that have weekday hours to see what the traffic is like to determine whether you’ll have to eat labor costs to keep the booth open when there is slow traffic. Talk to other vendors about their experiences, letting them know you are not a competitor if you plan on selling different goods.

2. Examine the contract between vendors and the market. Learn the days and hours to which you are committed at each flea market. Ask if you can reserve the same booth each week and if you can pay for upgrades to a booth, such as new carpet, paint on the walls or permanent display racks. Ask about security if you plan to leave your goods or equipment overnight.

3. Picking products that have high demand, high profit margins and little competition is key for flea marketers. If you don’t have even one of these product attributes, you can lose money from day one. Look at the age, sex, income levels and other identifying characteristics of the people at the market. Low-income women might appreciate used, high-end clothing you buy at garage sales in upscale neighborhoods. Used baby clothing, toys and other items for newborns might do well if young females attend the flea market. Perform an Internet search for flea market products offered by wholesalers who sell inexpensive, professionally packaged electronics, games, toys, sporting goods, footwear and apparel. Experiment with a few items each week.

4. Take care in displaying your wares. If your booth looks like the floor of someone’s messy closet, buyers won’t trust that you’re selling quality products. Get to your booth early to fold clothing, set out boxed items and hang things on racks. Check out Craigslist for inexpensive retail display racks to give you more space and a more professional look, as well as price-tagging equipment for your items. Print signs electronically and put them in inexpensive frames.

5. Hire one or more people who will learn your product, be willing to attract and interact with potential customers and show up on time. Set minimum prices if you allow booth staff to negotiate prices. This way, if a dishonest staff member tells you he sold at a lower price than he really did, you'll at least get your minimum.

6. Assess your weekly sales by product and profit margins. Wait for consistent sales of a particular product before committing to bulk buys, especially if the same people come to the flea market each week


How to Build and Set Up an Exhibit Booth at a Flea Market

Flea-market booths can be as simple as a couple of tables or as elaborate as a tent, shelves and display counters. Flea markets are a good place to start a business selling a product and see how popular that item is with consumers before investing thousands of dollars. Fortunately, setting up the booth to sell these products is a fairly simple process that almost anyone can complete in a few easy steps

1. Compare flea markets to find the one with the most foot traffic. To get an idea of how much traffic a flea market receives, visit at different times of the day on a non-holiday weekend. Take a notebook and jot down how many people pass by the booths near the front of the flea market, in the middle and in the back corners. This will help you choose a flea-market building and a booth within that building.

2. Create a list of display tables or cases needed. If you have one item, a few tables set up side-by-side may be all that you need. If you have higher-priced items, you may need a few display counters to place collectibles in for protection. If you are selling books, then bookshelves work nicely. If the flea market occurs outside rather than in a building, purchase a small event tent for shade and protection from the elements.

3. Design the layout of your booth. The flea-market organizer can give you the exact dimensions of your booth. Draw the shape of the booth on a piece of graph paper with one box equaling 1 square foot of booth space. Next, measure tables and display cases and cut out pieces of graph paper using the same measure of one box equaling 1 square inch. Color these a different color with markers and place them around the booth until you have the perfect layout.

4. Add visual appeal to your space. Adding a table skirt to tables or a metal frame with fabric draped down the back and sides can offer some privacy and set your booth apart. If your product is food, offer samples. For candles, put your favorite fragrance on a warmer to scent the air. Consider ways customers can interact with your product.

  • When designing booth layout, think about how customers will interact with your product. If you plan to give demonstrations, you may just want a table in the front of the booth. However, if you want customers to browse through a variety of items, then a U-shape with the opening at the front will give you more display space.