10 Tips to Growing Your Small Business from a Flea Market Stand

Tips on Using a 'Flea Market Incubator'

Flea market stands offer a great way to grow a small business.

‘Flea Market Incubator’

From street markets to craft fairs, having a flea market stand can act like an ‘incubator’ for your business, enabling you to test the water for your product, put your brand in the public sphere and learn from fellow vendors.

Many entrepreneurs and large brands started from more humble flea market beginnings, using their market stand as a platform to debut their goods.

One brand that boasts an inspirational ‘from flea markets to riches’ story is The 125 Collection. The 125 Collection, makers of stunning custom-made candles, are known for their witty ‘Quote Candles’.

The 125 Collection was created by two business-savvy ladies, Valerie Wray and Joy Fennell. When joining forces, Valerie and Joy would sell their products at a flea market in Harlem every weekend. Their witty candle product has since grown into a well-known brand, endorsed by a large celebrity following, including Christina Milian, Snooki and JWoww.

In an interview with Small Business Trends, Wray and Fennell provided some tips on growing your small business from flea market stand to success story.

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Tips on Using a ‘Flea Market Incubator’

Choose a Flea Market That’s a Good Fit

From artisan fairs to market stalls at Christmas, flea markets come in all shapes and sizes. As not all flea markets are alike, Wray and Fennell advise finding a market that is a good fit for your target audience. Harlem certainly proved the right flea market location for the birth of The 125 Collection!

Create an Inviting Space

The look of your flea market stall is vitally important. Wray and Fennell say, “Create an inviting space that will draw customers to your area and speaks to your brand. Utilize cool lighting fixtures, create a taller display table, create inexpensive backdrops, and something eye catching for your company name/logo.”

Create a Product with Tourist Appeal

Flea markets are attended by both locals and tourists, particularly in touristy cities like New York. Having a unique product(s) that is great for a gift, great for travel, and or would be a nice souvenir from your city will help with sales and brand growth.

Have a Lower Priced Option

The 125 Collection entrepreneurs also advise flea market start-ups for offer their regular sizer products but also have a smaller, lower priced option.

“We found that the lower priced items didn’t require a lot of decision making and customers would grab multiples of them and return for the larger item in the future (both online and in person),” said Valerie and Joy.

Continue to Add New Products to the Stall

Don’t run the risk of boring your customers with the same old products for sale on your flea market stall. Continue to develop and add new products and lines to keep the stall fresh and exciting.

Ask Your Customers for Feedback

Having face-to-face interaction with your customers, some of whom you are likely to have built a relationship with, flea markets are a great way to get feedback on your products. Feedback is a crucial component of business success and will help you get your product right and nurture brand and business growth.

Connect with Your Customers

Wray and Fennell also recommend that flea market holders wanting to develop their business should use their stall to connect with customers. Seize the opportunity to build your following and brand on social media.

“Take pics with them at the flea market and post on your social media – also encourage them to take pics and tag your product once they are home,” they say.

Remind Your Flea Market Customers About Your Website

If you’re serious about business growth, create a website to promote and sell your products alongside your flea market. Markets provide a great opportunity to remind and direct customers to your website. The experts we spoke to say, “Don’t forget to remind them about your website and have them sign up for your mailing list to stay in touch!”

Hand Out Business Cards

Take a stack of business cards with you on market day and hand them out to customers. Ensure your business cards includes all your vital business information, such as your website, contact details and social media identities.

Talk to Other Vendors

Finally, take the opportunity of selling at a bustling flea market to talk to and learn from other vendors. Seek out experienced flea market vendors and ask them for any advice on selling at flea markets and their experiences on reaching out to a wider audience and using a flea market as a platform for extended business growth.

Do you have a similar ‘from flea market to riches’ story? If you have any experience or advice about starting out on a flea market and eventually reaching a wider circle of customers and successful business growth, we’d love to hear your stories.

Flea Market Photo via Shutterstock 4 Comments ▼

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a professional freelance writer and journalist based in the United Kingdom. Since 2006, Gabrielle has been writing articles, blogs and news pieces for a diverse range of publications and sites. You can read "Gabrielle’s blog here.".

4 Reactions
  1. We started our business selling online. Then wanted a physical presence to connect with our customers so we opened up a physical store. Now we find that the flea market option yields much better result in terms of cost effectiveness and flexibility. Especially for small business that started online and wants a physical presence too.

    Experimented with a few things from this article. Something to add though is a mobile POS and credit card terminal. It increases the average order amount. A “we accept Visa/Mastercard sign” really makes a difference.

  2. One of the things that I learned is that it matters to appeal to just one customer and the rest will follow. So starting in a place such as a flea market is a way to reach out to your audience.

  3. Every business needs to start somewhere. A flea market is a great way to expose people to your products and services. So it is a good starting place.

  4. Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead

    I agree BizEpic, a flea market is a great place for a business to start.