Guide To Successful Flea Market Trading
A flea market is the market place to sell and buy second-hand articles and cheap products. The genesis of a flea market can be traced back to the days when the barter system was prevalent. It was the time when people used to exchange their produces for something that they did not have. The human civilization took its first tottering steps towards today’s global market with the simple concept of trading surplus goods in exchange for other necessary items that one did not produce or have. For example, a person who had surplus rice exchanged it for wheat and so on. The flea market is an off-shoot of that process and may involve anyone from small-time traders to homemakers who hold garage sales.
With our progression, the business acumen has also evolved and even the humble flea trade has become a lucrative business proposition. For someone who does not have adequate capital to start a brick and mortal outlet or invest in online trade, the flea market is the right starting point. One can expect to start small and gradually scale up the business as profits pile up. However, like any successful venture even the humble flea market trader has to be canny with a sense of what will sell and for how much. Let us enumerate a few basic points that would help you be successful in the flea market as a trader:
1. It is best to keep the start-up costs to a bare minimum and avoid too much overhead expenditure.
2. Check local free yard sales and garage sales for shelves and tables.
3. Start with small booths and stack it up with a large number of small yet useful and attractive items. People tend to pick up smaller items that are easy to carry from the flea market.
4. Books and CDs are good items to stack up as people frequenting the flea market are perennially on the lookout for cheap books, CDs and games.
5. Visit as many auctions as you possibly can and buy box items with lots of stuff in them. You can generally buy box items for as low as $5 and can expect to make decent profits on the items.
6. Offer sale as frequently as you can. You can play up to the buyer’s psychology by marking an item for $8 and offer a discount of 50%. People tend to flock at sale offers more than regular items.
7. Try to keep the decorations and embellishments of the booth to the bare minimum as you would want people to have ample space for picking and choosing the items of their choice. Too much decoration often distracts the potential customer and takes attention away from your real inventory.
8. Arrange the items the way it is most convenient for the customers to view them. The sale items should be placed near the entrance for everyone to have a good view.
9. Restock and rearrange as per consumer behaviour and keep the clutter to a minimum.
10. Use your presentation skills to keep the sale items in an appropriate location. Keep your inventory clean.
11. Ensure that the items face the customers so that they are visible even from a distance.
12. Try to mark your items using labels and stickers with appropriate price tags clearly mentioning the prices. The idea is to offer the most relevant information to the customer without hassle.
13. Clean your house regularly. Good housekeeping not only keeps your place clean and neat, it also helps you uncover a lot of stuff that has remained unsold for a long time. You may choose to clear the slow-moving inventory by offering clearance sale on those items.
As we now get the feeling of what a flea market trade is all about, we may as well explore the challenges that a flea market start-up may face.
1. You will get to know a lot about consumer behaviour and what it actually means when you use the term “Selling Skills.”
2. You will learn to deal with tough customers, unreasonable demands and be able to work around obstacles.
3. A few weeks in the line of fire will be the test of your work ethic.
4. This is the best way to get hands on experience on effective cash management. Cash management is all about being responsible and accountable towards your most valuable asset. You will learn how much to spend and when top spend on inventory, when to replace slow-moving inventory with fast-moving numbers and how to pay for all the expenses. The booth is your miniature company that teaches you the basics of entrepreneurship.
5. Inventory control is another very critical aspect that one needs to learn for surviving in the competitive arena of the flea market. You must be aware of the right kind of stock that gives you the best return on investments. You also need to understand which items are fast moving and which are slow and adjust your inventory appropriately.
6. Pricing is a very critical aspect for any business to be successful. You need to learn fast about what is the best price for an item. Selling at high prices may not ensure profits if you have to hold onto the inventory for long periods. Neither does it make any sense if you sell huge volumes at low prices without generating any significant profit. Pricing is the key to profits and any successful flea market trader would price his products carefully so as to eke out maximum profits at the shortest possible time.
7. You must choose your booth to be placed in a prime location. A quick tour of the flea market would offer you ample insights regarding the best place to set up shop. Location is a very important criterion, as customers in a flea market often flock at prime locations and more than 60% of the total sales of a flea market are accounted for by shops located in the prime areas.
8. Be aware of competition. You are not the only one who is out there to grab the customer’s attention. Keep your eyes and ears open to what your competitors are up to and try to be a step ahead in order to maximise your profits. Be strategic in your approach and do not hesitate to innovate and experiment if that is what it takes to sell your wares.
A flea market is the best place to test your entrepreneurial skills. There is no better place than the tough and fiercely competitive flea market to get a hang of what it takes to be a good seller. A stint at the flea market will help you hone all the skills that are required of a successful entrepreneur.
In order to be a success at a flea market, you have to be street smart and sensitive to consumer needs. You know that all you have is your wits and your selling skills to make an impression on your customers. If a customer is happy, he is bound to go back and spread a good word about you, but if he is unhappy, then there is nothing that you can do but hope that he does not harm your reputation. The flea market is a great place to sell exclusive and rare items also. Make sure that you do a proper market survey to understand what frequenters look for.
You must sell as the market demands. If there is a requirement for old tents, then be the first to offer them. Try to convert as many potential customers to paying customers as you possibly can. Try to be reasonable, humble, prudent, wise, street-savvy, yet customer-oriented.
Last but not the least; don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Try to mobilise your capital slowly and wisely. You ought to understand that the flea market is often not the place where you get huge margins out of one sale proceeds. You have to patient and are prepared to stomach losses. Do not go overboard or over-invest when you have made profits, and do not become depressed when you have lost money. The idea is to minimise your losses and try to make up for them as early as you can.