I have been to many flea markets, I love seeing everything, talking to vendors and if I'm lucky I find some good food. One trend I am noticing is many vendors make a full-time income. Hello, real-life American Pickers! So this led me to do some digging and asking around on How to Make Money at Flea Markets and I mean really make money!
Because who doesn't want to travel around buy cool stuff and get paid to do it? This is one of many ways we share where you can make money online (and offline too!)
12 Mind-Blowing Tips on How to Make Money at Flea Markets
Before we jump in you need to understand there are 2 types of flea markets. There are the ones where you buy a permanent booth on a monthly basis. This is generally where you can leave your items overnight as they lock up.
They also are mostly inside and some even have it where they are open all week and you don't' have to man your booth as they have a cashier for the building, you just have to use your vendor code when pricing items.
Next, are the traveling flea markets. Ones that are open for one weekend a month, normally in the same location. These ones you have to set up and haul out every night. You also have to pay and book your spot each time.
These can also center around town events and if you plan to do this kind of sent up you are able to travel a bit more, normally within a 100-mile radius which gathers you more shoppers, for more work of course.
If you want to dig into this topic more, I highly suggest grabbing the book Flea Market America: The Complete Guide to Flea Enterprise
Make Money at Flea Markets by Selling Items You Get For Free
Wait, what? Yep, you read that right. Sell items that you get for free. How? There are a few ways.
Trash Day Trolling – You know those guys that drive around your street on trash day and pick up stuff from the side of the road. Most of this stuff is really good stuff that people just don't want to put the effort into selling. Sometimes it needs minor repairs or a new paint job.
Facebook Groups – One of my local groups is actually for free items and many times in the buy and sell groups people will over free things for pick up or give curbside alerts.
Other places to watch for freebies include Craigslist, Freecycle and your local buy and cell phone apps.
Swoop in at Garage Sales
So you want to shop garage sales in 2 different ways because both will land you a great profit.
Early Morning Shopper – First you want to be the annoying guy that shows up first thing. Get the first pick at things you can resell. While you are there take note of a bulk of the inventory for the next option.
Last-Minute Shopper – The second way to make money reselling from garage sales is to be one of the last shoppers. You go in and if there looks like decent stuff make them a low price offer for everything left over. You haul and it, they make some money and don't have to deal with it again. You can then sort and take what you plan to sell and donate the rest for a tax write off.
Related: How to Save Money at the Flea Market
Dig Around at Thrift Stores
Visiting thrift stores can yield some great finds to resell. You will have to really dig here. Name brand clothes can be found along with some great furniture. Thrift stores are a great place to find items to refinish or Upcycle.
They also tend to have a freebie bin of stuff they haven't been able to sell or small items they don't want to both with. This is a great place to look too. Why? Well, thrift store employees generally have no idea how much the stuff in the store is really worth. They work off a price guide for everything so you never know what you might find.
Don't be afraid to put a bit of work into an item to transform it. This could be as simple as repainting an item. I know one booth owner who takes simple walking sticks and adds on beautiful decorations to the handles and resells them.
A little bit of work to make an item truly unique will go a long way.
Other Places to Find Items
There are other places to find items to sell. Make sure to keep an eye out at these places.
Clearance Bins – This is great for the holidays if you can store items. Buy Christmas items at 75% off after the holiday and store them until next season. This is great for none holiday items too.
Estate Sales – This is where a family is trying to clear out a whole house quickly. Normally this is the kids wanting to clear out a parents house after they pass away or when they move to a nursing home. Prices are generally around the same as garage sales and you can get some great deals.
Wholesale Warehouses – You can get some decent deals buying a box of an item many times these warehouses will do sales. If you can store items you can get a great deal and fill your booth.
What to Sell
Make sure you know your market and what the people in the area you are selling want to buy. This will be very important!
Here are a few areas to keep in mind.
Vintage Toys and Games – Baby Boomers seem to have a trend of wanting to acquire toys from their childhood, plus they are willing to pay for it. This makes a great business in selling vintage toys and games. If you can find them in good condition you can make some really good money.
Vintage Clothing – Vintage, name brand clothes in good condition will resell well. A thrifty blogger I follow found a 1980s Oscar De La Renta dress at a thrift store for $5 and resold for $200!
Jewelry – Both costume and real jewelry will do well. You will not get top dollar but you will get more than just the price of the weight of the gold. That's a tip when buying jewelry never pay more then you can get for the gold in them so you are never out money.
Tools – Guys are always looking for deals on tools. Building a tool collection for a business or even personal use can be very expensive so they are always looking for a deal on used tools.
One of a Kind Items – Always one of a kind items will do well. If they can't find it elsewhere they are more likely to grab it there. Years ago I saw this vintage Dr. Pepper sign at an antique store I thought about it and by the time I went back, it was gone. To this day I stick kick myself for not jumping on it and you can use that to your advantage for sales for one of a kind items.
Know-How to Negotiate
Be prepared or people to come and negotiate your prices so make sure to build in a little room for this.
Know Your Bottom Line – Know what the bottom price is where you will no longer make money and stick to it. A sale isn't worth it is you lose money.
Go For a 2 for 1 or a 3 for 1 Special – Verbiage like this makes buyers think they are getting something special even if they aren't. Don't be afraid to offer this for all items.
Make it fun – Joke and relate to them, be fun and light-hearted and they will be willing to pay more just because they like you.
Watch Your Pricing
While you can make some decent money at Flea Markets but keep in mind shopper still want a deal. So this is not where you will get top dollar.
You need to have prices low enough to attract buyers, but high enough to make money and allow wiggle room for negotiating.
What does that look like? Well, let's say you pick up a full set of china for $20 at a thrift store. Doing the research you find the set is worth $100. You want to always double your money so you breaking point in $40 there. With me so far? So leaving room to negotiate but allowing a buyer to still feel like they got a deal I'd list it for $75.
Let's break it down.
Doubling your money minimum: $40
China is worth $100
List for $75 the buyer instantly feels a deal by saving $25. This still leaves you $35 wiggle room for negotiations. Though if I'm being honest I wouldn't take less then $50 for the set myself.
The bottom is to always know what your bottom line is on an item and always try to at least double your money.
Organize Your Booth
The more organized your booth is the more sales you will make that's just how it.
Place like items together – Places all books together, all clothes together, all Christmas items together.
Price every item – Most people, myself included, won't ask you a price if an item isn't priced. This can be a missed sale.
Electricity and Batteries – If an item needs electricity to have a place to plug it in so buys can test the item. Also if your item needs batteries have fresh batteries in the item so buys can see it work.
Connect with Customers
Be friendly and connect with customers. If they are like they will stick around your booth longer and that equals more sales. Many will buy an item they are on the fence with just because they like you.
Some will buy just to support you. Bonus if they like you they won't haggle you down too far.
Think Outside the Box
Some items you can make money on won't be amazing items you find. I saw one booth that bought used mason jars at thrift stores for 25¢ and added a 25¢ toy from a thrift store bargain bin. They then sold them as “canned critters” for $2. That's a $1.50 profit!
Another booth took a bunch of foreign coins for 10¢ and drilled a hole in them and added a string to make a necklace and kids would buy them for around $2 each as well.
Don't Be Afraid to Use eBay
You can sell some higher valued items better on eBay so always check online. You can pick something for $5 and might be able to sell it for $300+.
One thrifter picked up a pinball machine for $100 and sold it for $1300! Another got a medical machine for $5 and sold it for $700.
Now I want to know what tips you would add to our how to make money at Flea Markets list! Let us know in the comments below!