According to our FAR HORIZONS Business Coaching staff, there are actually three distinct types of Swap Meets.
Note: (In the interest of simplicity, from here on in when we say “Swap Meets,” we’re also referring to flea markets, craft fairs, and similar events as noted below).
1.Outdoor Swap Meets
These usually run the gamut in terms of merchandise. Here, you can find anything from high end stereo systems to fashion jewelry to families clearing out Auntie Emma’s garage of old tools, toys, and various parts and pieces from who-knows-what. Ordinarily these events attract folks looking for some bigtime discounts and bargains.
These usually attract a more professional class of marketer. The displays tend to be more organized in appearance, and the merchandise is generally of a consistently higher quality throughout the meet. Rather than tables there may be booths, and each marketer tends to specialize in specific product categories.
These may be held indoors or outside; you’ll find them in parks, or as part of a local carnival, fund-raiser, county fair, or other similar event. Usually the marketers show their wares from booths, and the offerings can vary from homemade to high-ticket, (or homemade and high-ticket) depending on the location.
WHEN YOU PACK FOR THE SWAP MEET, DON’T FORGET THIS
We’ve heard from scores of successful Swap Meet sellers over the years, and they tell us that the two most important things you can bring with you are:
1. A friendly, upbeat attitude.
2. Willingness to barter and “play the game.”
As one member puts it, “People come to shop at Swap Meets looking for a bargain, and they come because it’s fun. So I keep a smile on my face and I’m always ready to enter into the bargaining game. I have my ‘bottom line’ price in mind, and I don’t go below it – but I’m always willing to give a little on the original asking price. That way my customer feels good about the purchase, and I still make a nice profit. We both come out winners.”
Whatever type of Swap Meet you choose to begin with, there are some simple, basic steps you’ll need to take before the event, during the event, and after the event.
Let’s start with … well, the beginning!
A FEW THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOU CAN START
1. First, find out where the local Swap Meets are, if you don’t already know. This shouldn’t be too hard; they normally advertise in local newspapers, and in giveaway magazines you can find in convenience store racks. Smaller meets may not advertise, but if you check with the local drive-ins, or let your fingers do some walking through the phone directory, you should find some.
2. Next, scout the meet yourself. Take a look around, observing the tables and booths with a marketer’s eye. What are the vendors carrying? More importantly, what aren’t they carrying? What are they charging?
3. Reserve a table (or booth, as the case may be). Do this by contacting the meet manager, who will provide you with pricing, along with a list of rules and regulations you must follow when marketing at the meet. The cost for renting space at a Swap Meet varies widely, from a few dollars a day to much more, depending on the meet. Try to begin at an inexpensive yet well-attended meet, so you can keep your initial cash outlay as low as possible.
4. Select your merchandise. FAR HORIZONS’ Business Coaching staff generally recommends you begin with $450-$750 worth of merchandise (meaning your actual cost).
5. Get your other supplies ready.
Depending on the meet, you may need to bring all or some of the following:
1. At least one folding table.