Flea Market Season is in Session — 8 Tips for Successful Selling


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Photo: Flickr.com/photos/stevenm_61

Photo: Flickr.com/photos/stevenm_61

With the warm weather ahead comes the reemergence of fleas and outdoor markets. Before you grab your vintage goods and a card table, take in these tips from seasoned seller Sarah Polster of Cushion Chicago.

Having sold at multiple markets throughout the Midwest, including Randolph Street Market and the Vintage Bazaar, Sarah’s expert advice on planning ahead and taking full advantage of your market day will set you up for success! Read up, listen and learn and then catch this market dynamo in action, live and in person, this weekend, June 8-9 at Bellwether in the Windy City.

Price to Sell

Tips to Sell Successfully at a Flea Market

When pricing your merchandise, take into account the sweat equity that went into finding, fixing, cleaning, schlepping and staging all this cool stuff, Sarah says. “You want to make sure you’re compensated for your time and effort.”

Make your price point appealing so people feel like they’re getting a good deal. But don’t “give it away” either. People like to haggle so Sarah prices with a little built-in “wiggle room.” She’s also willing to take less for an in-person sale versus an online sale because she’s saving on the effort of packing and shipping an item.

Strategize Your Display

Tips to Sell Successfully at a Flea Market

Make your display as aesthetically pleasing as possible. Not everyone has the vision or the imagination that you, as a vendor might. Buyers need to see items presented in an eye-catching way to really see the potential and value in their purchase. A scattering of goods on a few bare folding tables forces the buyer to work a lot harder than a artfully crafted vignette.

Sarah recommends “Visual Contrast” as a guide to visual display. “The human eye is drawn to contrasting shapes, colors, textures and sizes, so use this to your advantage in your booth.” She suggests when possible to use a few larger pieces as anchors and then build in mediums and lots of small objects. Keep in mind that shoppers are walking around and generally don’t want to carry large, heavy items through the market.

Always make sure the prices are clear. “As a buyer, I’ve often walked away from something that intrigued me but wasn’t marked,” says Sarah. “Oh, and have candy on hand. Always have candy. It brings them in like a bee to honey!”

Market Day Essentials

Tips to Sell Successfully at a Flea Market

Bring a variety of bills to make change and a Square or a Paypal Triangle for credit and debit card transactions. Bring newspaper and recycled grocery bags to wrap purchases and have a tape measure handy for shoppers. Wear comfortable shoes, lather on sunscreen, drink plenty of water, and bring snacks and a chair for when traffic dies down.

Be sure to grab a stack of your business cards and postcards to pass out. A mailing list sign-up sheet on hand and good signage lets people familiarize themselves with your brand and find it again in the future.

Most important, says Sarah, is a relaxed and happy attitude. “Whether you are there for the fun of it or to make a living, enjoy yourself, the people, the sunshine and fresh air. There are a lot worse ways you could be spending your day!”


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