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Old 11-21-2011, 02:51 PM
Location: Knoxville, TN
346 posts, read 459,882 times
Reputation: 506


We already own & operate a small HVAC company for the past 11 years. Over the last two years hubby and I have purchased equipment for personalizing and decorating gifts. It started out as a hobby with the intention to turn it into a business, and we have attended trade shows and have been learning the equipment and filling small orders. We are actually incorporated, but mostly all we have done so far is purchased a lot of equipment. Essentially we spent money from my dad's estate as an investment in our future.

A local flea market has booths for rent at a reasonable rate, and we are considering making a "go" at it. The market itsself is attempting to be more upscale than what you might consider a true flea market, and they are becoming more choosy about their vendors. We already spoke to them, and they believe we would be a good addition that wouldn't conflict with any of their current vendors.

We will offer unique and personalized gifts ranging from hand crafted pens turned on a lathe, to mugs, key chains and clipboards. We can do embroidery, rhinestones, and vinyl decorating. We can also create 3d wooden puzzles, Lazer engraved business card holders, and personalized wall plaques. We will offer sand carved glasses, mugs and pitchers as well. We can personalize Christmas ornaments with photos and also create high quality awards and photo projects.

We have friends who do booths at craft fairs selling home decor and wreaths, and they say it's so inexpensive that if they lived here they would jump on the opportunity.

I am fearful that this will be the end of my weekends as I know it, not that I have that much downtime, but we will be working seven days a week if we commit to this project.

Do any of you have any advice and input? We have very little experience in retail, although the running of a small business in general is not completely foreign to us.
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Old 11-21-2011, 08:12 PM
28,900 posts, read 48,688,332 times
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Well, something like that is a low-risk way to try things out. Before you do, however, I recommend walking similar fairs and looking at how others do. Make mental notes about what you like about other booths and what you don't like. Peruse the merchandise and listen to their sales pitches.

Then I would look at what everybody else is doing, and do something different. As in sell something that the other booths don't offer.
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Old 11-21-2011, 08:19 PM
Location: Las Vegas
14,181 posts, read 26,711,759 times
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I've done this. It's fun but I never made a lot of money. Be prepared, if you price an object at $5, 15 people will offer you $2.50 for it.
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Old 11-21-2011, 08:47 PM
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
33,101 posts, read 60,114,328 times
Reputation: 36577
I agree, you won't get rich, people at such events are looking for deals. I found that those items selling for $3 or less were all that sold, and it's not worth turning on the laser for less than $100 even if it's paid off. The money is in production work, manufacturing 1,000 items at a dollar or less each for wholesale customers. Personalizing is OK for custom items that you can charge a lot for, as a supplement to the regular business. With an inexpensive booth give it a try and see what happens, but record how long it takes to make each item, materials cost, plus time in the booth, and how many of each you sell. If you end up making less than about $35/hour you are probably losing money.
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Old 11-22-2011, 02:23 AM
11,286 posts, read 46,207,149 times
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Depends a lot upon the flea market you're considering for the type of clientele and traffic volume that will come through. If it's upscale and busy enough to bring in the traffic and sales volume you need, then you'll make a little money at this.

But there's really only one way to know for sure with the market and your operation ... that's to try it out for a few weeks. Like any other business, there's a risk and expense to balance against possible rewards.

If you have limited time from your other obligations and business, taking on another that takes up your minimal free time may not be a good thing to do. Flea markets as a business venture typically require a consistent presence so folk get to know what you have available and seek you out on the following visits. If you can't commit to that type of effort, it may not be worth even starting out.

Perhaps a crafts fair type market would be a better venue for your product?
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Old 11-24-2011, 07:22 AM
1,610 posts, read 4,216,019 times
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You would do better at a fine art and craft fair to get your asking prices.Most People that frequent flea mkts and garage sales are looking for bargens and will offer you less.Google search the sites that publish the dates,reputations,and vendor fees of these events in your area.I do fine scroll work with wood and found this out as well as some one I know that makes fine pottery.
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Old 11-28-2011, 02:40 PM
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere
14,131 posts, read 28,179,200 times
Reputation: 6836
There are also gift shows in some cities. You might google that term and you'll probably find some. They generally hold them in convention centers or expo halls and charge admission. That tends to weed out the riff raff.
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Old 12-02-2011, 01:56 PM
Location: Southwest Desert
4,166 posts, read 5,654,648 times
Reputation: 3544
Good luck if you decide to give the flea market a try. Most people do expect lower prices at a flea market. (As others have mentioned.) My husband and I sold leftover stock from our stores at a local indoor swap meet. Basically we just wanted to clear everything out and kept our prices low...We made our booth look like a store and sold leftover furniture and display pieces too. Most people just slapped their booths together and we stood out. I think it's important to have different things each weekend. My husband and I (and son) took turns going out to local yard sales while someone stayed back to watch the booth. After awhile we started selling anything and everything besides just our leftover store stock...It takes time to figure out what people like and want. And everyone loves to be surprised! We had "regulars" who came by to say "hi" each weekend and check our booth for "new goodies."...It can be tiring especially on top of a full-time job but it can be rewarding too. The economy is down so sales aren't always "what they used to be." (Unfortunately.) But there is "no telling!"...It's fun to make friends with other vendors. Our swap meet had monthly potlucks!
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Old 04-12-2013, 02:01 PM
2 posts, read 17,984 times
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I say do it. You can look into hiring someone to help you as you grow. I'm located in Indiana. My husband & I have sold at a local flea market for a few years. It's gone so well that I've written several books - 2 on USA based wholesale sources and one on what to sell as so many people would ask about both topics.
I was the same as you - I was afraid of losing my weekends. Instead I found I could make $$$ in a few hours and be in and out of the flea market and still have a good portion of my day left. We were able to hire people to help and expanded rapidly. I've also met many good people. My husband has a landscaping business and the flea market has also been a good lead gen source for him - so you may find it to be the same for you.

Last edited by vter; 04-12-2013 at 05:55 PM.. Reason: spam/advertising
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