The Flea Market, a stallholder’s perspective.

3 Nov

As a Hunter Gatherer it can be all too easy to accumulate stuff. When the price for an item is just a couple of coins or even free off the side of the road, its hard to resist taking it home even if it doesn’t fit/is broken and you have absolutely no space for it. I try hard to curb this urge and seem to be constantly recycling things back to my local op shops but like most people there comes a time where you just have to admit that you have too much stuff & need to get rid of a lot of it in one hit. The quickest way to do this is by having a garage sale or a stall at a second-hand market. I prefer the latter. The atmosphere of a market makes for an enjoyable day, listening to live musicians, eating great market food and potentially coming home with a bonus treasure scouted from a fellow stallholder. The downside is the stallholder fee which eats into your sales, we minimised ours by sharing a stall with friends. These fees can vary greatly between markets so check their websites for info.


The early morning start is not for the faint hearted either, best to pack the car with all your wares the night before and just suck it up. Pack your wares in a way that is easy to unload & plonk straight out for sale – clothes ironed & already hanging on coathangers ready to hang on a clothes rack in 2 seconds flat. Tip: bind the tops of the hangers with an elastic band. Assemble your clothes rack, hang & wheel the whole thing to your stall from your car.


You need a float of at least $50 in a bum bag or small purse slung across your body.  It should only contain the float for ease of use & you should never put it down anywhere. Have your stallholder fee separate. If you have a pop up marquee or a beach umbrella, take it. A marquee defines your stall & is useful for hanging items from. Often you are sitting in the sun all day, you will be glad for some shelter. A folding chair, water & sunscreen are essential.


Recently we had a stall at Rozelle markets with friends. We’d been planning it a while which meant we had plenty of time to gather quite a few items to sell. When I say quite a few, I actually mean enough for 6 stalls! I kid you not, we were laughing when we all met up at the market on the morning at how much stuff we had. Luckily we were allocated a stall where we could spread out a bit and we took advantage of every single inch.  Our kids even ran their own toy stall. With hundreds of toys for sale, they managed it like pros. Seasoned Hunter Gathers themselves they knew what prices to sell things for & how to haggle with their buyers. I was so proud! The kids worked hard on their stall all day, virtually unassisted & got to keep the profits from their toy sales.


As is the way at flea markets, the dealers/permanent stallholders will scout the casual’s stalls as they are trying to set up in the morning picking over the best items in hope of being able to sell them on their own stall. I sold a man a wooden box for $8 only to see it for sale on his stall later for $20. You have to expect this sort of thing and just brush it off. It’s not just the dealers who will pester you whilst you’re trying to assemble your stall in the morning, the early bird hunters (like moi) will also be out in force. There’s no such thing as waiting for a stall to open, these shoppers know that first in gets the best items so be prepared to be mobbed. It’s just another reason to prepare your stock for immediate sale. Sort through everything & place items in tubs/suitcases/ boxes ready to sell. If you’re not selling it then pack it away, this goes especially for your handbag & personal items.


Its best not to price your items and instead engage directly with your buyer, gauging with them the price and seducing them with the history of your item. People love sentiment and knowing where things originally come from. I made up a stack of these funny signs which generated interest and again got the buyers chatting to us. It’s a good idea to keep a pen & notepad handy to write down your sales so at the end of the day when you’re feeling frazzled you have some sort of sales history.


It was a fun day and we each come home a little lighter of our wares & a few hundred bucks richer. I tried really hard to buy a stack of stuff and resisted looking at the other stalls til the end of the day. I was stoked to find these awesome cowboy boots for only $10. Like?


We’re already booked in to sell at another upcoming market, the Narrabeen Car Boot Sale, so come find us & buy all our stuff!

Have you had a garage sale or a stall at a flea market? What are your top tips?

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