Selling at farmers’ markets, craft fairs, and flea markets provides entrepreneurs with great opportunities to sell their wares without a lot of overhead or upfront costs. Though it’s relatively easy to get started at such low-cost venues, succeeding still requires research, planning, and preparation. Depending on your product mix, the competition can be fierce and margins are often razor thin. As with any business venture, success comes to those who offer the right products in the right markets at the right prices.
Finding the Best Venues
Begin your search for the best venues at online sources such as FestivalNet or Shopify’s flea and farmers’ market directory, and carefully consider which ones are right for your product line. For instance, you don’t want to invest your money at a bargain flea market if you’re selling higher priced artwork. Also, consider each venue’s requirements in detail, as these vary widely, with some requiring applications or hundreds of dollars in fees. After narrowing down your list, visit some of the more promising venues to check out your competition and gauge foot traffic, see what people are buying and paying, learn about any permit or licencing requirements, and determine the cost of renting or buying a space. Spend plenty of time talking to other vendors, as many of them can impart valuable wisdom about the best venues as well as other valuable tips.
Testing Your Product Mix
Before investing a lot of money in inventory, start small by selling a few of your core products at a few low-fee markets. You can also consider testing your products’ potential using low-cost methods, such as advertising on Craigslist, WallaPop, Etsy, or iCraft, or listing your wares on digital flea markets, such as Facebook buy/sell/trade groups.
Pricing Your Products
If you do your homework and visit some of the more promising markets, you should have a pretty good idea of what your competitors are charging. For commodities, such as fruits and vegetables, or lower-cost items, you probably don’t have a lot of room to compete on price, so make sure you’re pricing in the range of your competitors. If you’re selling one-of-a-kind products, such as crafts or art, consider spending some time selling your products on digital flea markets or using other online methods for valuable insights on what people are willing to pay for your products. Keep in mind that people shopping on digital platforms are often looking for deals and typically find wide offerings to choose from, so you may have less flexibility in pricing online than in local markets.
Credit cards are widely used as payment at craft fairs, and being able to accept them can boost sales at flea and farmers’ markets. Fortunately, it’s easy to accept credit cards today using your smartphone or other connected device using services such as Google Wallet or Venmo. Cash is still king on low-cost items at flea and farmers’ markets, so be sure to bring plenty of small bills and change. You don’t want to be scurrying around trying to find change or losing sales while you run to the bank. Stock up on point-of-sale supplies, such as receipt forms and promotional and packaging materials, so you don’t waste time or leave your booth unattended for restocking. Knowing how to sell products at flea markets, craft fairs, and farmers’ markets isn’t just a great way to earn money. It’s also a great low-cost way to test and build your product line, make valuable contacts, and build a customer base and reputation. Taking the time to scout out the right venue and offer competitive pricing can give you a leg up on your growing business.