In this post, I want to discuss how to make money at the flea market.
I have a friend who makes a living selling things at flea markets.
He goes around various flea markets selling all sorts of items.
I, therefore, know from his experience that it is one of the best ways to make money if you know what you are doing.
Before you do this, I am going to offer you some tips that can help you to succeed on this side hustle.
What is a flea market?
A flea market also called a swap meet is a kind of market that usually takes place outside where old and used things are sold. It is a type of street market.
Why do they call it a flea market?
The name flea market is of French origin. It was originally called Marché aux puces in French which is translates as “market of fleas”. This was because it was expected that the merchandise being sold was flea-infested.
What sells at flea markets?
I would imagine that some of you are asking as to what to sell at a flea market to make money. The items that sell well at flea markets are things like
- Cheap new items. People don’t usually go to flea markets to buy expensive items. Therefore if you are selling new items go for the cheap ones.
- Electronics and home appliances. These are probably the most popular items to sell at a flea market. Just make sure that you clean them properly and repair them if necessary to increase their value.
- Baby clothing and toys. People usually go to flea markets as families as they are usually held on weekends. It is, therefore, an opportunity for parents to buy things for their children. And the children expect their parents to buy them stuff too.
- Small furniture. This is another item that sells well at flea markets. Items such as stools etc easily sell.
- Holiday decor. We all want a bit of variety in our holiday decor and flea markets offer a chance to buy cheap holiday decor.
How do I become a vendor at a flea market?
Below are the things that you need to become a vendor at a flea market.
1. Need to have a Tax certificate
In most states, you need a tax certificate before you are allowed to sell at a flea market.
The tax certificate allows you to charge sales tax on your sales.
You can get this with your state’s Tax Department. Without this, you cannot be allowed to sell at flea markets.
2. Find a Flea market to join
After you get your tax certificate the next step is to find a flea market that you can join.
Various flea markets have their own rules and regulations, you, therefore, need to find one that suits the things that you want to sell.
3. Register with the organizers
Once you identify the flea market then you can register with the flea market organizers.
Some markets take place only on weekends and some throughout the month.
Most organizers will charge you a fee to participate.
4. Organize or rent a booth.
To be able to sell you need to either rent a booth or set up one yourself.
5. Find items to sell.
After this then you can find the items that you need to sell.
Where To Find Items To Sell At A Flea Market?
Finding items to sell at a flea market is not difficult. After all you are selling second hand items. Below are some of the places where you can find second hand items to sell.
I like garage sales because usually it is not done by experienced sellers. It is usually someone who just wants to get rid of some items and therefore is easy to haggle over prices.
Most people will accept almost any amount when conducting a garage sale. You can discover these garage sales on social media and even through the grapevine in your area.
Your Own Home
Another neglected place is at home. If you are like me then you have items that are just lying around without being used.
I am here thinking of phones, furniture, kitchen utensils, electronic and electric equipment, etc.
Actually, before you think of any other place to get stuff to sell, think of your own home first. In this way, you don’t have to fork out some cash to get the items as they are already yours.
And instead of just throwing them away you will be able to recoup some money by selling them.
If you have children then you will have lots and lots of stuff as these children grow very fast and leave all sorts of shoes and clothes that no longer fit them “behind”.
And from my experiences, there are so many parents out there looking to buy cheap shoes, plums, clothes, bicycles, etc.
Another neglected place is the road side of your neighborhood. A few years ago I managed to get some quality furniture that I found outside our housing estate.
The owner had left it outside with a message saying that anyone was free to get it for themselves. The owner had certainly bought new furniture and wanted to get rid of his old furniture.
You, therefore, have to keep your eyes open when walking around or driving in your area as you could find free furniture, free electronic items, etc in your area.
In terms of price and cost thrift stores are not necessarily the best when compared to the options above but in terms of variety they are the best.
At thrift stores, you can find almost anything that sells at flea markets. Whether you are looking for furniture, electronic equipment, clothes, etc, you will find it there.
You, therefore, need to frequent thrift stores and see if there are items that you can flip for profit easily.
Another place you can find items is on Facebook. There are now groups that have been set up for people who want to get rid of their second-hand items.
And it is very easy to find one in your area when you search on Facebook. Actually the search results are arranged based on the area you live in. Facebook knows too much about us, unfortunately.
In these groups, you can find old furniture, clothes, electronic equipment, etc.
A few years ago my wife managed to find a second-hand bicycle for our daughter in one of such groups.
In fact, some people just want to get rid of their stuff for free. Things cannot get better than that.
The good old online auction, eBay is another place where you can buy items that you can sell at a flea market.
You just have to make sure that you have a good opinion on prices as you might end up paying more than you need to.
After all, this is an auction and it easy to get taken up by emotions. You, therefore, need to be very sure of the price you are willing to pay.
AliExpress and Other Online Marketplaces
Recently these online wholesaler shops from China have become very popular due to the low prices there.
Even though they sell brand new items, you can still sell them at flea markets as nowadays some brand new items are sold there too.
You however need to be careful with these sites when it comes to quality. I would advise that you do your research first about any supplier before making up your mind.
There are always reviews of suppliers on AliExpress and other sites. You just need to search on Google if you don’t trust the reviews on AliExpress.
Alternatively, you can buy a few items for the sole purpose of checking for quality before you commit to big purchases.
How To Make Money At The Flea Market?
1. Decide on what type of flea market you want to participate in
There are different types of flea markets. Most flea markets where I live happen over the weekends.
However, they are some that take place throughout the year.
I should also point out that in some countries that have bitter winter, the outdoor flea markets usually take place in summer only.
As a newbie flea market seller, you need to decide whether you want to make this a full-time trade or parttime.
If it is full time then you may have to join the full-time flea markets.
In this case, you will be charged a monthly fee for space by the organizers
The part-time flea markets will usually charge you a fee on the same day of the market.
Therefore if for whatever reason you decide not to participate you will avoid the charges.
2. Thinks seriously about the location
The success of each market usually depends on the location and its accessibility.
A good location will attract more customers and therefore more money for the sellers.
However, a market located in an area that is difficult to access or far away from populated areas will attract few customers.
So before you join a market think about these things.
I have a friend who sells his stuff at one of our flea markets and he is very happy with the business there.
The market is located right in the city center and close to other shops.
It, therefore, attracts people who may have been in the city for other types of shopping.
Some of the most patronized flea markets are also close to main roads.
This means that they are easily accessible and therefore attract more customers.
3. Identify the right kind of products to sell at your flea market
Selling the right products can mean the difference between failure and success.
While there are some items that almost always sell well at flea markets, each market is unique.
You, therefore, have to survey your market first before you decide what to sell.
For instance, university towns that have a lot of students may attract mostly young people whose pockets are not that deep.
You, therefore, cannot expect to sell high priced items in such markets.
In such kind of market items like textbooks will also sell well. Students would also be interested in electronic gadgets.
You, therefore, have to take all that into consideration.
4. Identify where to procure good to sell
Once you identify what sells well in a market you need to find places where you need to buy your things.
As pointed out earlier, thrift stores, garage sales, wholesale websites like Aliexpress, your home, etc are some of the places to source your stocks.
5. Determine the correct prices for your goods
It is important that you don’t outprice yourself.
You, therefore, need to survey your market and see what your colleagues are charging before you set your prices.
It is important that you do this before you even procure your goods.
Otherwise, you may end up with goods that you may sell at a loss.
You are in business and therefore need to make profits if you are to survive.
In setting the prices think about your profits and also your customers.
If your goods are too expensive no one will buy them from you.
And if you are charging too low you may not make enough profits.
6. Set up your stall/booth attractively
People are attracted to things that look good in their eyes.
Therefore make sure that your goods are arranged properly. Goods of the same kind should be put together.
You also need to put price labels on your goods.
7. Learn to haggle
At flea markets, there is always a bit of haggling over prices.
You, therefore, need to learn this art if you are to be successful. Learn to say no. This is a business, not a charity.
Therefore determine beforehand your reserve price in your head. When a customer goes below that price be prepared to say no.
8. Promote Your Booth
While flea markets or Swap meets are very popular places that attract lots of potential customers you can still find ways to promote your booth.
This is especially important in the early days. You can promote your booth on social media to your friends and family.
Friends and family are the best customers you can ever get. Once they know that you are running a booth they will make sure that they pass by.
Who would want to buy from a stranger when a friend or relative is selling the same thing? You therefore need to take advantage of these links you already have.
And you can also “boost” your post for people living in your area. Facebook adverts are not that expensive and can be highly converting if you target your audience properly.
In the case of a flea market, you can target an area where your patrons are likely to come from.
This promotion can work if your booth is in a fixed location in the market. Otherwise, it could waste of money if the people you attract fail to find your booth.
Do You Need A License To Sell At Flea Market?
In most areas, you do not need a seller’s license or permit to sell used or new items at a flea market, swap meets, or anywhere you choose if these were not originally bought for the purpose of reselling them.
For example, if you bought a television set that you bought to use but for some reason, you want to sell it you can go ahead to sell it without needing a permit or license.
However, if you bought items for the purpose of reselling them at a flea market, swap meet, or anywhere else then you will be required to have a license in most areas.
In some jurisdictions, you will still need a permit to sell any item whether old or new regardless of whether you bought it for resale or not.
How Much Does a Flea Market Vendor Make?
Flea Market vendors can make anywhere from a few hundred dollars a month to thousands of dollars a month. I know flea market vendors who do it on a full time basis and make more money than most people who work in offices.
I hope you have now learned how to make money at the flea market. It just requires following the advice in the above paragraphs and be willing to adjust if things don’t work well.
I also have another article that can help you to make even more money. It is titled, How to flip items for profit.