Top 4 tips to selling at a flea market

My decor education_top tips for selling at a flea market

I’ve worked in Marketing for a decade, so I can’t help but put my Branding-Comms-Customer Experience hat on outside of work any opportunity I can get.

Last Sunday this came in very handy. I spent the morning at Melbourne’s most well-known outdoor flea market (Camberwell Market) to hawk some of the excess in my home.

I actually did this ~4 years ago at the same market. It was stressful and I put a lot of much pressure on myself to make it perfect. Despite this, (or maybe because of it) it was a very successful experience, so I applied the lessons I learnt to my latest attempt and the results were even better.

1. Preparation

  • Pack your car the night before and start the morning of the market earlier than you’d like. Sure, traffic will be light that early (we woke up at 5am), but the market will be buzzing with all the other stallholders trying to setup, so everything will take longer than you think. Plus, the die-hard market-goers will start early – this is where you can make some good sales, so get yourself ready.

My decor education_camberwell market 7

  • Snacks. Snacks. Snacks. Once the market gets going, it’ll be hard to get away to have a meal. We packed some rolls, fruit, and water. Nothing too smelly, so as to deter customers, but good carbs to keep us going.
  • Track expenses so you can easily figure out how much you’ve made. My expenses were:
    • Stall booking fee $60
    • Hire clothes racks (x2) and a long trestle table $25.
    • Additional furniture (mirror, pricing labels) $20.
    • (plus an $80 parking ticket for parking 4 hours in a 2 hour zone – deserved)
  • Get a bum bag for easy money access. Daggy but practical. You don’t want to be reaching for your wallet and it probably won’t fit all the loose change and small notes you’ll get (hopefully because of all the sales you’ll make). My sister helped me out on the day and she used a small satchel bag hanging on the front of her body.

My decor education_top tips for selling at a flea market

2. Branding

  • Give your stall a personality. Don’t let your stall get lost in a sea of other racks. Unless you have a permanent stall, most stall holders won’t put effort into the look and feel of their booth, so it doesn’t take much effort to stand out and catch the eye of passing traffic. We had a vintage white lace tablecloth, cute bunting, chalkboard, and vintage trays to give our booth a vintage shop look.
  • But don’t get too fancy. You want your stall to stand out, but you don’t want people to think it’s too expensive and avoid you altogether. This is particularly relevant if you’re doing a one-off stall like I did, where I only had one chance to make an impression and get sales. A permanent booth can invest in a nicer setup because they’ll be back the next week to make up for sales. Find a balance. 

My decor education_top tips for selling at a flea market

3. Pricing

  • Bartering is unavoidable, so lean into it. Regardless of what price you set, people will want to barter. My sister and I hate negotiating and were worried about charging too much for items so we overcompensated and started really low. This was a mistake. People were going to bargain regardless of the starting price, so we ate a lot into our margin. Some items started at $5 and people were asking to discount to $2!
  • Have a $1-$2 bin. People come to a market to find that diamond in the rough and to rummage for bargains. We put a suitcase of $1 t-shirts out the front of our stall and it was amazing how many people that attracted and then drew into browsing the rest of the stall.
  • Up-sell instead of discounting. Instead of discounting on individual items, when people asked for a discount we said ‘If you buy a couple items, I’m happy to discount the total’. This worked interestingly well. People would either get a couple items (yay!) or they would look around and buy the single item at the full price. Boom…psychology!
  • Be clear about your price point. I had a sign upfront to make it clear at what price point I was selling. I updated this regularly in response to the traffic and what stock was remaining. I found simple headlines with one price worked best ‘Vintage & Designer. Nothing over $15’. This worked particularly well against the competing stalls who were 30-40% more expensive than mine.

My decor education_top tips for selling at a flea market

4. Customer experience

  • People love a chat. And they’re more likely to browse longer if you do. The longer they browse, the more they’ll convince themselves they should buy something. Starting a conversation can be as simple as:
    • I love your bag/shoes/earrings/glasses!
    • How’s the market looking today?
    • I see you’ve already picked up some nice finds from the market – where did you get the x/y/z?
  • Don’t stare at people. So many stall holders do this; it’s creepy and intimidating. It makes me feel like I’m a thief and puts pressure on me to buy, so I react by walking away. Not what you want.
  • Make it easy for people to see the items. Don’t pile bags on top of bags on top of more bags. Give each item has it’s own space to make it easy for people to fall in love it! And you’ll need to re-arrange items constantly to clean-up and to respond to what people were drawn to. Every time I put a single item hanging over the chair next to the mirror, it would be sold within 15mins.
  • Offer plastic bags for people to carry their items.

My decor education_top tips for selling at a flea market

{This is me and my sister taking a breathe after the market closed}

All these tips and tricks netted me a great profit for the morning and got rid of things that had been suffocating my closet for months.

I’ll do this every couple of years to clean my closet and make some pocket-money on the side.

What are your tips for making the most of selling at a flea market? Tell me in the comments below or send me a private email.

Also, follow my Snapchat (decoreducation) for a regular dose of decor life in Melbourne, Australia.

Pamela

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