Selling at flea markets and swap meets is not hard at all. As mentioned previously, it is a good way to get rid of your “stuff” when moving to full time RVing. It can also become a second income for crafty people and those with enough space to carry around others’ products. We recently sold off quite a bit of household goods at the Salt Lake City, UT swap meet over two Sundays and learned quite a bit. I hope this info helps you and gets you energized to give it a try.
- Research the markets and meets available in your area to find one with the best cost, stall size, crowd size, and suitability to what you are selling. Ask the locals, check the local papers, search the internet. Many times, there will be only one in town or one clear winner.
- Don’t pay too much for a stall and be sure to have the payment on you in cash. We paid $25 for one stall which was the length of my GMC Yukon and a little over twice the width. I use the car to measure because at this particular outdoor swap meet, you park your vehicle in the stall all day. Up front, we also had to pay another $25 as a deposit which we got back at the end of the day. We easily earned back the cost within the first 1-2 hours of selling.
- Get there very early in the morning to get a spot. Some sellers who sell every weekend have reserved spots and will be allowed in first. Then they rent the rest of the open spots to those in line. We had to be there at 6am to get a good spot in line. Be sure you get in the right line as well. Be prepared to wait a lot. Some other flea markets or swap meets may work entirely by reservation. Know before you go.
- Setup as quickly as possible and expect other sellers to come by to shop early before the crowd gets there. Please try to park so as not to block your neighbors from unloading and don’t put things in your neighbors’ way while they are unloading. Everything can be moved around after everyone is unloaded.
- Be sure to bring some change. Our first time out, everyone paid in small bills so no problem but the second time was right at the first of the month when folks have cash so we got a lot of $20 bills that quickly took our change. Luckily, I had another small stash on me.
- Bring bags like extra grocery store bags. Most buyers will want a bag when buying multiple items or multiple piece items.
- For yourself, bring a canopy, if you have one, for outdoor sales. It gets very hot sitting out there all day. If you don’t have one, bring an umbrella for each person. Also bring chairs, hats, a cooler with drinks, food like sandwiches (food for purchase may be available there), and perhaps some music like an MP3 player for the quiet times. If you bring a radio, don’t play it too loud or try to compete with the neighbor’s music.
- I personally like to see prices on things and often won’t buy if I can’t see the price but this does not seem to be as important at swap meets. Buyers had no problem with asking us the price on each item and none of the sellers had price tags on anything. Many buyers made us offers for less on one item or for buying multiple items. Some we accepted and many we did not. As the day wore on, and packing things up again started to loom, we got more flexible.
- Lay things out nicely on sheets, blankets, carpets, and tables and try to group them. We used 2 nice carpets on the ground with a small walkway left between them and a table that we covered with a blanket. The blanket looked very nice and hid all the bins we stored under and behind one side of the table. Being a solid color, it showed off the collectibles on the table very well.
- Be active and jovial. Ask buyers how they are and comment on the weather. Show off your products or some special item. Engage them. Don’t just sit there and ignore potential buyers. You are there to SELL! That does not mean hard selling or staring at customers. Keep it light and fun. Watch their body language for tips to when they may have a question and want to see something closer or when they may want to be left alone.
- Be prepared to be there all day. You may not be able to get out until the other sellers around you have left or are leaving depending on how and where the swap meet is setup.
- Fill out any required tax forms and pay any sales taxes before leaving. At the Salt Lake City swap meet, you must fill out a form that will be collected by a cop there and sent in to the income tax authorities to be sure you report your earnings with your state taxes. Other states require you to pay sales taxes on all items sold either before you leave or later. Don’t forget to get any deposits back also before leaving.
We had a pretty good time both days we sold. One day we sold twice as much as the other and the crowds seemed very different. Weather, other local events going on, and time of the month may have been factors in the difference.
With two of us there, we were able to get some time to go browse the other stalls ourselves while one manned our stall. Of course if you do that, you will likely find something you must have so there goes some of your profit and you bring home more “stuff”. LOL You might also find something cheap that you can resell for more in your booth or in another venue such as classifieds, Craigslist, or Ebay. I found an expensive camp cook table I have been wanting for a long time that I paid $5 for and another used and broken scooter for $20 I can fix up to maybe resell, part out, or swap with my other one. My brother found something cheap that he has been reselling on Ebay.
Again, selling at flea markets and swap meets is not hard or expensive to do. It is a great way to clear out the house or RV while making some extra cash. There are also product dealers there if you want to sell someone’ else’s products. You definitely can make some money at them and you don’t have to be a local to sell at one.
Here are some pics from the Salt Lake City Swap Meet including our booth: