Starting a Flea Market Business

starting a flea market business
When starting a flea market business you will be renting out booths, tables or sections of your land to vendors. Your goal will be to attract not only vendors to rent out spaces in your flea market but also shoppers to come to your flea market. Without any of these two main ingredients your flea market will not be a success. Flea markets attract a large number of vendors selling goods ranging from old clothes to antiques to cheap new merchandise. They are open primarily on the weekends throughout the warmer months, however if you have an indoor flea market you can decide to have it open on a daily basis.

Job Duties

Before starting a flea market business you will have to do competitive research on existing flea markets in your prospective area. You will need to know where the flea markets are located, on which days are they open, how many vendors are there in each of the markets, how many of them sell the same items and how much do they charge. Visit these markets and find out “what works” as well as “what doesn’t work” and observe which items that are in demand. You will need to lease an area with enough acreage to handle the projected parking and vendors. You will have to prepare the area by mowing it and setting up the barricades or ropes. You will also need to make sure the vendors have the tax licenses and any other necessary permits or licenses. When starting a flea market business you will need to advertise to get vendors and potential customers. You will also need to set up the infrastructure with things such as portable toilets and any wiring, or water that will be needed.

Where You Will Be Work

Back in the old days flea markets were set up at drive movie theater parks during the day. There are few of those type of venues left today. They can be set up in lots or fields, in which the owner is willing to lease on weekends or because their business is defunct. Ideal locations for starting a flea market business can be near a major highway and easily accessible. The flea market should have plenty of space to park and rent booths.

Basic Costs

Starting a flea market business requires very little investment. The only major investment involved is the money that will be spent on leasing the land, and on promotion. Other costs include those in setting up restrooms, keeping the area clean and advertising. You will also have to hire staff to help set up and break down the market. You will also need to hire an administrative staff to handle reservations and customer service concerns. You may want to consider hiring a security company to take care of and prevent any security problems.

Tips for Starting a Flea Market Business

Offer high demand items not found easily in stores– The vendors do not necessarily have to come themselves; you can order the goods and market them in a special “Searched Far and Wide” section. Help the vendors to take measures to protect their items from theft- have a good educational brochure and an adequate security staff.

Initially charge lower booth rental rates- you will need to charge lower rates at first, but you will want to gradually raise rates to assure a high quality of service. Once you raise your rates, you might offer specials such as loyalty discounts, smaller booth options, non-profit organizational rates, etc.

Set up where there’s high traffic- you can have the market on a country road or in an underdeveloped area, but it should still be a well traveled road so that people see the signage.

Organize concerts once in a while- this will attract more customers. Some new bands may entertain for free or a nominal cost in order to promote themselves.

Have an easy to follow layout- offer easy to follow maps and group vendors, by theme, if possible.

Advertising a Flea Market

You can advertise your flea market through the following methods. You should test various forms of advertising to see which are the most effective for your business in your location. Keep in mind that you are trying to attract vendors as well as shoppers.

  • Signage- Have bold, bright signs near streets with high traffic marking the way to your flea market.
  • Flyers- Determine if you can put up flyers in local grocery stores, bakeries, restaurants, community centers, and more. It is best to ask the owner of these businesses for permission first. Also hand out flyers to passer byes on the street.
  • Business Cards- Create business cards and hand them whenever an opportunity appears. Network as much as possible.
  • Newspaper ads- Write an article in your local newspaper about starting a flea market booth or related to get some publicity. Consider purchasing an ad in the newspaper.
  • Yahoo Local Searches- If you include your business in the Yahoo Local Searches, when people search for your service in your local area your business will appear in the list. To add your business to Yahoo local search, enter the term “add business to yahoo local search” in Yahoo.com and click on the first link.
  • Google Local Searches- Google has a local search as well. To add your business to Google local search, enter the term “add business to google search” in Google.com and click on the first link.
  • Website- Create a website to provide clients with access to general information about your flea market.
  • Social Networking Sites- Use sites such as Facebook and Twitter to grow awareness of your flea market and to let your members know of any special events.
  • Online Marketing- Post ads on websites such as Craigslist.com to let people now of your flea market business. Look for sites featuring, “fun things to do” in your local area and request for your flea market to be added to their list.

Not sure about starting a flea market business? See a list of small business ideas

Do you have a business story or experience you would like to share?

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3 comments

  1. Terri says:

    I found it very helpful but, you didn’t mention insurance or business licenses…don’t know who to ask about that…city, county or state…all of the above ?
    Thanks, Terri

  2. Missy says:

    Hi Terry,

    Your local (city or county) courthouse will be able to tell you which business licenses you will need and also direct you to which state licenses you may need. They will also be able to tell you which licenses your vendors will need. You may also want to check where your vendors can obtain a sales tax id #, which will come from your state.

    As for insurance, I know ours is somewhat high. We have an indoor flea market, so outdoor flea market insurance may be different. When we were first getting started we debated whether to make it a thrift store or flea market and I remember that the insurance was cheaper for a thrift store. Not sure why that is. However, a quick check on google, or other search engine will give you some options. Or you could check it out locally. I think insurance rates vary depending on states due to different laws pertaining to each state.

    I hope that helps!

    Missy

  3. MsB says:

    Depending on your State/County, you will need an annual Business License for a small fee and possibly a State and/or County Tax ID which is usually free and all Venders are required to have a State and/or Tax ID. You may be able to find this information on the internet or in the yellow pages under the Government section (blue pages). Hope this helped. Good luck on your venture…

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Resources


Small Business Development Center- consult with experts

SCOREs - find a SCORES chapter near you to speak with a business consultant.

Small Business Administration- provides information for starting a small business.