Flea markets and swap meets are big business these days. Television programs like Flea Market Flip and Storage Wars have catapulted the reseller industry. Before you start a flea market business however, there are a few things you should know.
Can I Make Money as a Flea Market Vendor?
While some people make a full-time living as swap meet sellers, most simply do it for some extra cash and because they enjoy the atmosphere. This won’t be a get rich quick opportunity, but you can earn some good money as you learn and adapt to the market. The upside is there is little initial investment required for most.
Table Rental – This will vary quite a bit depending on whether the market is indoors or outdoors and whether you want electrical hookups. A larger indoor market in Omaha offers one-week 8×10 rental with electricity for just $28. In California on the other hand, you may be paying that rate for one weekend day. You can locate registered flea markets in your area at http://fleamarketzone.com/flea-market-directory/.
Occupational License – Many flea markets and swap meets will require you to have an occupational license. This is acquired through your county and is purchased on an annual basis.
Sales Tax – You will need to collect sales tax on any sold items. Some flea markets will collect this from you at the end of the day. If you are a licensed seller, you can submit it to the state directly.
Goods to Sell – The wonderful thing about these venues is they welcome almost any seller. While there are markets that specialize in antiques or handcrafted items, most don’t care if you are selling $.50 plastic party favors, cleaning out your garage or moving Persian rugs – as long as it fits in your booth and isn’t illegal or inappropriate for a family event.
For that reason, this is a great place to start testing the waters of becoming a reseller. Clean out your closets, attic and garage. You’ll likely get more foot traffic than holding a yard sale. If things go well start seeking out items to resell outside of your home. You will find a great list of ideas here.
How to Get Started
Before starting a flea market business become familiar with the industry. Shop the swap meets. Soak up what’s selling and for how much. Listen in on your fellow shoppers’ conversations. What are they looking to buy?
You should also spend a little time talking shop with the vendors themselves. Ask how they got started. Do they have any tips or things to look out for that they will share with a newcomer? How do they prevent theft, which can be a big concern at swap meets?
Talk to the flea market organizers. What licensing is required? Do you need a tax ID or insurance? Do they provide tables and chairs or do you need to bring your own?
Finally you need to write up your business plan. What products will you sell? How will you accept payment? (Check out our list of mobile payment apps here.)
Keep good records. Not only will you need them come tax time, you can also make sure you are stocking inventory that sells.
Be approachable. Flea markets are all about the camaraderie. You will see the same customers and vendors week after week. Make friends. Be open to negotiation. Establish long-term relationships that could possibly lead to more profitable ventures.