Tag Archives: yard sale

How to Make Money at Flea Markets

flea marketOne of the best ways to unload a large amount of junk and make a few extra bucks is to sell your wares at a local flea market (or as some call it, a swap meet). In my experience, we’ve had much more success at a flea markets than at yard sales. Yard sales require the customers to drive to your house. Yard sales don’t have as many vendors, so they don’t attract as many customers. And people also seem to want you to offer you .10 cents for everything at a yard sale.

Over the past couple of years, George and I have sold a large chunk of our earthly wares at the Raleigh Flea Market. During this time, we’ve also acquired an array of tips and tricks to the flea market game. Here’s what we’ve learned:

1. If your flea market is outside, check the weather report! People will not shop if it is raining, super cold or very windy. It is also a total bummer to sit outside in harsh elements all morning. Bad weather can also ruin your stuff. For example, if you sell books, even a little bit of rain will completely ruin your stuff.  Bring tarps or a large tent even if the weather report is in your favor.

2. If your flea market takes reservations, call early in the week to book a good spot. Scope out the best spots the week before and ask for those specific spots. Look for spots near a bathroom or an entrance. These areas are higher traffic, therefore, your items are more likely to be seen.

3. Know your competition. Visit the flea market a couple of times before selling to scope out the competition. What is everyone else selling? Are their prices high or low? What can you offer that other booths may not?

4. Know your market. In the beginning, it is hard to figure out what sells, but by bringing a variety of items, you’ll be able to quickly narrow down your scope. For example, we’ve found out that vintage clothing does not sell at our flea market, but I’ve been to huge flea markets, such as the Rose Bowl, where vintage clothing sells like hotcakes.

5. You’ll want to narrow down your scope a bit, so you don’t have to haul your entire house to the flea market, but keep things diverse. We’ve had weekends where only our furniture had sold and we’ve had weekends where only small knick-nacks sold.

6. Create an appealing booth. Put your best items at the front of the booth to draw in customers. Spread items out and display them in a shop-like way. Go to the mall to get inspiration! No one likes to get on the ground to sort through junk. Put your items on tables, display clothing on racks and play music that reflects your style. Check out the picture below of our last set-up. We put our most eye-catching items towards the front of the booth. The painting of the pig drew in so many customers!

flea market set up

7. Price your items slightly higher than you the amount you would take. Some people at the flea market like to negotiate. Some don’t. If you see someone is hovering over an item or you can tell they may be a bit shy, let them know your low price.

8. With that being said, don’t take a price that is less than you feel comfortable with. People will always try to get something for nothing. Someone else will come along and you’ll sell that item eventually. Don’t worry too much.

9. Don’t take it personally when someone balks about the price. You know what the item is worth to you. Some people don’t see the value in it and never will. Ignore those people. When we bring George’s art out to the flea market people balk about the price and try to offer us less. The pieces are original and often take hours, if not days, to complete. We price it fairly. The end.

10. Have fun, talk to people, put on sunblock, dress in layers, bring a chair, lots of snacks and relax! Selling your old junk is easy money.

Have you ever sold at a flea market? Got any tips? Leave ’em in the comments!


How to Thrift, Find and Scavenge

junk at flea market

Today I’m going to share my top 10 (sometimes) dirty secrets to thrifting, finding and scavenging! I’ve been shopping at thrift stores since middle school, so I’ve been at the game for over half of my life. And I learned from the best– my two, crazy aunts who would even buy their food from what they liked to call the “Scratch and Dent” and the “Day-Old Bread Store.”

1. Keep a running list of what you want or need. Going into a thrift store, yard sale or flea market without a solid idea of what you want can lead to unnecessary purchases and buyer’s remorse. I can easily get overwhelmed in a junk shop, so I keep a list of things I’m looking for in Evernote, that way I can easily refer back to it.

2. Before you even go out to the thrift stores, flea markets or yard sales, look around your house. Do you really need this item? Can you re-purpose something you already have? Can you take a few items to the thrift store to donate before you buy something else? I highly recommend doing an inventory of what you already own before bringing in new items to your house.

3. Ask your relatives if they are trying to get rid of anything. I can’t tell you how many great finds I’ve found in my relatives’ basements and attics. They are usually happy to give it away and you’ll be getting a piece with family history.

4. Find out when your local thrift stores restock their items. Generally they restock during the week, so try to shop then, instead of on the weekend when items will be picked over.

5. When it comes to flea markets and yard sales, the early bird gets the worm. Seriously. Every time I’ve sold at a flea market, someone has bought stuff out of my car before I even have time to unload it. Those people can be ruthless. And you should be too if you want to get the highest quality items. Find out when the flea market opens and get there before opening time. By the time noon rolls around most things will be picked over and vendors will be ready to pack up.

6. If you aren’t a visionary, bring an honest and visionary friend with you to shop. I love shopping at antique malls and thrift stores with George because he can see through the dirt. He knows if something is fixable or just plain junk. I also really admire the thrifting skills of my friend, Candra. She is a total fashonista and has the keen ability to find key wardrobe pieces in piles of junk.

7. Ask yourself this question: is the piece easily fixable? I have a terrible habit of biting off more than I can chew and I’ve done this with far too many thrifted things. I now like to ask myself if I could fix it in a weekend. If I can’t, I don’t buy it. If I can, I make an attainable (S.M.A.R.T.) plan for fixing it.

8. Outsource the “fixing! 9 times out of 10 a thrifted blouse that you take to the tailor will be cheaper and will fit you better than buying a new blouse at the local mall. It’s more environmentally friendly too!

9. Use alternative sources of thrifting, such as Craigslist and Facebook’s Marketplace. Being tech-savvy in “junk” culture gives you a great advantage over all those old ladies at the thrift store! Just remember to bring a friend with you to pick up the items. Safety first!

10. And the most important rule of all is to have fun! If you are finding that you feel overwhelmed by all the stuff, take a break, get some coffee and relax. Then, take a look at your list and if you feel up to it, get back out there. Junking should be fun, not stressful!

Do you have any other tips to add? I’d love to hear them in the comments!