Flea markets - also known as swap meets - are probably one of the best small scale businesses to start. A flea market can be considered to be an upgraded version of a garage sale. It is bigger, better and with a lot more variety than a garage sale. But the basic idea is the same - to sell stuff you don't need. Some people even buy second hand goods and sell them at their stalls for a profit. Flea markets are an awesome idea to raise money - a lot of it, and quickly. But for the first-timers, it becomes quite difficult to judge what to sell at your stall.
Common Things Sold at Flea Markets
This is probably the single most common and best selling item at a flea market - clothes. But you can add a twist to the clothes you choose to sell at your stall. Instead of selling old t-shirts as they are, why not paint some funny cartoons, quotes or messages on them? Similarly, you can cut the legs of your old denims and turn them into rugged torn half pants or capris. If you are fond of embroidery, you can embroider the clothes you sell. Jackets are a hit in the flea markets as well. Make sure you categorize clothes according to age-groups or gender when you display them at your stall.
Hats, caps, scarves, stoles, shawls, old bags, wallets, pouches, watches, belts, talismans, anklets, bracelets, necklaces, ear-rings, finger rings, toe rings, bangles, waist bands, headbands, wristbands, hair accessories... you get the drift, don't you? The list is practically endless! Accessories are one thing you don't need, but you still want them - and a LOT of them too! You can even include stationery items like pen stands, old note books, diaries, files, folders and the likes.
Old Books and Magazines
A flea market is a good way to get rid of old unwanted books and magazines from your library. Books can include novels, poems, plays, informative books, self-help books, How-To books, etc. Magazines can include all sorts of magazines, fashion magazines, car magazines, sports magazines, nature magazines, etc. It is always a good idea to give off books to people who might find them useful rather than to simply trash them away.
You are bound to have a lot of footwear you have outgrown. This is especially true in a family that has young kids - they just keep outgrowing all their stuff, all the time! Footwear even keeps breaking all the time - the buckle comes off, the strap tears away. You may not want to wear them like that, but someone may come up with innovative ways to repair and use them. Flip-flops and sandals sell like crazy at flea markets.
Old chairs, stools, tables, tea-poys, bean bags, ottomans, hammocks, lounge chairs, rocking chairs, sofas, cane furniture, book shelves, cupboards, cribs, blinds - all of this will sell like hot cakes. A flea market is a good way to get rid of old unwanted furniture in the house. It is the perfect place to sell your stuff if you are moving into a new place, or if you are getting your place renovated.
Home Improvement Products
Home improvement products includes all sorts of things like paintings, wall hangings, lamp shades, decorative items (like photo frames, dolls, etc.), clay items (like pen-stands, pots, vases, etc.), old toys, vintage items, old records, gramophones, old linen, old cutlery, etc. All these products are of special value collectors. I once sold this really old bone-china kettle to a lady who was fond of collecting kettles. I do not know what she saw in it, but she paid me a good sum for it!
They Will LOVE You For...
Here are some additional tips on making your business a success.
If you have more than a single stall at the flea market, or if you have a couple of friends who also have stalls at the flea market, you could gang up together and come up with special offers. For example, you could have an offer like this: if a customer buys goods worth more than $20 at your stall, they can pick up any item worth $10 for half the price from your friend's stall; or if a customer spends a total of $30 at two or three different stalls, they can get free refreshments. You can even have the regular buy-one-get-one, buy three-for-the-price-of-two kind of offers. They will greatly increase your sales!
These will earn you a lot of extra cash, with almost zero investment! You can have your kids paint temporary tattoos for people - they love doing that kind of stuff! Everybody loves getting a tattoo. Some even get a temporary one for a few days before they decide on a particular design for a permanent tattoo. You can even diversify into face-painting if people like the tattoos you paint for them. If you want to get your customers to visit you again, you can design customized tattoos that will work to advertise your flea market stall; something like "7th Aug '11 - I WAS THERE!". Of course, these tattoos would have to be free.
Trust me, a trip to the flea market is bound to make you hungry and thirsty! You could have a small refreshments stall right next to your regular stall. It will again earn you some extra cash. Even if you do not want it to be very elaborate, you can keep something as simple as coffee, lemonade, or even water. If there is anybody who is fond of cooking in your family, then you can have a snacks stall as well. Popcorn, candies, chocolates, ice-cream, hot-dogs, sandwiches, all will be an instant hit. After all, people love to eat when they shop!
... Flags or Banners
This will act more as an advertisement for your stall. You can welcome everyone who comes to your stall with a flag. The flags can carry the name or logo of your stall. They can even act as coupons for the special offers I mentioned above. It would be a great way for the customers to engage their kids while they look around your stall and check things off their lists.
A flea market is not a professional store. So you can sell all kinds of things. Also profits are guaranteed; so you can experiment and come up with new strategies about how to sell things at a flea market - there isn't much risk involved. A good idea would be to drop by at a few flea markets and do a survey to see what sells the most, what people want to buy, what they want but don't get, etc. That way, you can take care of all these things in your stall. All the best!