Determined to free our lives of clutter, we turn to flea markets as a solution. We continue our 7-part mini-series on selling your stress. Today Part 4: Tips and tricks
In my previous posts, I wrote about (1) why I wanted to get rid of my stuff (2) how I had accumulated so much of it and (3) how we enjoyed our day at the market. In case you are thinking of selling some of your stress too, here are some tips and tricks.
- Tell friends and relatives: If you’re really in it for earning an extra penny, tell relatives and friends that you’re going to the flea market. Chances are they have some stuff lying around. Maybe they let you keep the earnings. Probably they are just glad to get rid of it. Win-win! Who knows, they might decide to join you for a day at the market. The more the merrier!
- Don’t bring trash: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure… however true, don’t take it literal. Make a proper selection of items at home. Clean them if necessary. Don’t bring anything that has no value. If it’s broken don’t sell it, throw it away. Only one exception: if it’s a popular electronic device, you might want to offer it for free. Some tinkerers like fixing them.
- Spare change: Make sure you don’t miss out on a sale just because you don’t have any spare change on you. Get some coins from the bank (or save them up during the year). You’ll need them to get through those first few hours. By the end of the day, you will have plenty.
- Bring accessories: Some items lend themselves perfectly to sell with accessories. Offer them as a premium package. The right accessories might just be enough to give you an edge over the guy around the corner. Besides, be honest with yourself: without the old digital compact camera, the matching camera pouch and mini-tripod will have no value to you anymore.
- Bring original manuals: If by any chance you still own the original manual of your devices, bring them and put them on display next to the items. Not only is a manual useful to a buyer, it also proves that you take proper care of your possessions.
- Charge batteries: Honestly, you wouldn’t buy an electronic device if you didn’t see it operate, would you? Neither will someone else. Most electronic devices work on batteries. Make sure you charge their batteries and bring some spare AA batteries so people can test your devices.
- Be prepared for some Belgian weather: Consider yourself lucky if you live in a southern country. In Belgium you better bring some large plastic covers to protect your items from sudden rainshowers. It’s certainly preferable to dismantling and rebuilding your entire stand in case of a short shower.
Setting up your stand
- Arrive early: Flea markets start pretty early: at 7 or 8. Do yourself a favor: get there early. As a result you will have some time to think about and set up your stand. Nothing is so annoying as trying to unpack while answering a spitfire of questions from early visitors. Reward yourself with a nice breakfast (croissants!) after you’ve unpacked.
- Hide your boxes: No matter how early you get there, some early birds will be swooping in hoping to catch some fat worms. By keeping your other bags / boxes out of sight, you avoid having to bargain over prices while unpacking. Clearly you don’t want to sell all your best stuff for the lowest price in the first few minutes. In addition it keeps more aggressive visitors from rummaging through your stuff.
- Basic plaids: Covering the ground or table makes your stand look more attractive. Preferably, use a plain bedsheet or table cloth. Flashy patterns draw away attention from your items (and tend to make people nauseous).
- Think commercially: Your few square meters are your private shop. Take care to make it look as attractive a possible. Put shoes on display, hang clothes by hangers if possible, make sure your movies and books are easily accessible (if you have too many you can sort them by genre). A good rule of thumb is large items in the back, small items in front. Don’t forget to put some cool trinkets on display for people who buy on impulse. Be creative!
- Highlight your best items: Your most valuable items deserve some extra spotlight. Consider making a detailed description on paper and putting it next to them. That way people immediately know what they are looking at. Furthermore you avoid having to answer the same questions over and over again.
- Dressing room: People are reluctant to buy clothes they haven’t tried on. Especially if you are selling a lot of clothes, try constructing a small dressing room or dressing corner. Use some old drapes or blankets to make it private.
- Work in levels: Those of you who have much to sell, can work in levels. Bring some tables and put the largest boxes filled with DVD’s or books and large, sturdy items below them. Organize the smaller and special items on the table. Not only does this allow you to show off more items on the same space, it protects less flexible visitors from straining themselves.
- Share your shop: Once you are satisfied with your cozy little shop, why not take some pictures and share them online? Who knows, some friends might drop by.
Prices and bargaining
- Compare prices: No clue what your items are worth? Take a stroll around the market. See what others ask for similar objects. I tend to start from there and lower it by a few euros, just to increase the odds people will buy from me.
- Pricing your items: In general, I encourage you NOT to put prices on your items. Setting fixed prices can scare potential customers, even if you are willing to bargain. Allow them to fall in love with an item and let them ask for the price. That works better, trust me.
- Exceptions: There’s only one exception to the previous rule: prices on boxes with books, CD’s or DVD’s. It helps putting up labels such as: “1 to 4 euros per DVD”. Keep the ones that you think are worth more in a separate box and put a price range on that one too. This way people can start digging in, knowing beforehand the price range they are looking at.
- Bulk discount: Offer bulk discounts. If buying more items will lower prices, people will be inclined to do so.
- Shy people: Keep an eye out for people that show interest but are too shy to talk to you. Help them out by giving them the price without them asking.
- Don’t start with your final price: Define a final prices for your more valuable items and hold yourself to it. Give yourself some bargaining space, start higher. Remember, the purpose is to get rid of some stuff, not to get rich. In my experience, selling items for low prices results in more actual sales. More sales equal more profit too.
- Bargaining: Prepare yourself mentally to hassle over prices. Even if you don’t like it, it’s all part of the game. It’s only fair to say that people with an Arabic background are more direct when it comes to negotiating prices. However low the offer, never take it personal. You can always refuse. Everyone is looking for a bargain, don’t lose your temper over one euro.
- Bags, bags, bags: You know those drawers full of plastic bags? This is your chance to get rid of them! Offering a bag with a purchase, no matter how small, is a basic flea market service you should provide. People love it.
- Bring chairs: I don’t know about you, but standing up straight for 8 hours is not my idea of a relaxing day. Bring some comfortable chairs to sit in. Just make it clear they’re not for sale.
- Music: If you fear the guy next to you will play ABBA’s greatest hits on endless repeat, you can bring some music of your own. Bring your radio, bluetooth speaker or even that old CD player to demo the CDs you have on sale. First of all, time go by quicker while listening to your favorite music and second, it draws some extra attention to your stand. Be warned though, not every visitor is attracted by Death Metal or Thunderdome hardcore.
- Have fun: Don’t forget to have fun and enjoy the day. Talk to people, walk around the market. Just be careful not to buy more stuff than you’re selling!
There, we hope these practical tips get you started like a flea market professional! Any more tips we didn’t think of, share them in the comments below. Keep watching our Facebook page for the next chapter in our series: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. In it we share some remarkable (but true) flea market stories.
What about you? Do you have a lot of stuff just sitting there? Too many DVD’s, books, CD’s or even old toys that just take up living space? Is your wardrobe bursting at the seams and you still don’t find anything to wear? Why not sell some stuff on eBay, Kapaza or Tweedehands? Facebook also has groups where you can post stuff to trade or sell in your neighborhood. Look for groups called “For sale in (your city / village)”. Or if flea markets seem like your thing, take a peek at a local flea market calendar.