Flea Market Business

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How to Start Your Own Flea Market Business
A Detailed Report Providing A Behind the Scenes Look At Starting, Operating, and Succeeding At Your Own Flea Market Business

R & J Management, LLC All Rights Reserved Copyright © 2010
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Table of Contents Legal Stuff and Disclaimers Introduction – My Story, How I Got Started With a Flea Market Business Why a flea market business? Seven Reasons Why So Are You Ready To Start Your Own Flea Market Business? Setting Up Your Business Licenses, Permits, Insurance, and Sales Tax Summary of Start Up Costs Your Products Products, Price, Promotion Saving Money on Supplies Mistakes to Avoid Operationally, What Will You Need? Making Each Show Your Best Show Signing Up At Shows and Getting There What About Credit Cards? Tips For Doing Business at Flea Markets Final Thoughts on Running a Flea Market Business 3 5 7 11 12 21 23 25 28 37 38 42 50 52 55 57 58

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Legal Stuff and Disclaimers
OK, one thing before we get started, we have to get the legal stuff out of the way and make a few disclaimers. How about income guarantees or statements about how much money you can make (or lose)? When I mention or state how much money you can make in this business, please remember, it is incredibly variable. I may tell stories of people I know that have made a lot of money and stories of people I know that have made little. The point is that I cannot and do not make any guarantees as to how much income you’re going to make or how you’re going to make it. That is just extremely difficult and almost all your success will depend upon the decisions you make and the actions that you take. If I tell a story about someone earning a particular income, it is for illustration and information purposes only and does not mean that you’re going to make that much money or that you’re going to make that little money. You may make a whole lot more. You may make less. You may make nothing. I sincerely hope not, but that is a possibility. With every business venture there is risk, and you bare the sole burden and responsibility for that risk. Do not risk any amount of money that you cannot afford to lose. Any stories about anyone are for illustration purposes only and should not be taken as factual or for use in relying upon the information to make decisions. Places and events are not intended to resemble anyone in particular and any resemblance to anyone, living or deceased, is unintentional. Because the business is regulated state by state as well as federally, there are a lot of variables in the legalities of what goes on in the various states. Again, this is for information purposes only. You should consult an attorney regarding any legal issues. I am not giving you any legal advice here. I’m not an attorney. I’m not going to be giving legal advice. If you have a legal question, you should consult your local attorney or the local government agencies in your area. Also, as I mentioned, I am not an attorney, well, I am not a business accountant or a tax accountant either. You should consult these folks regarding any accounting or tax questions and issues. Any suggestions that I make are for illustration purposes only and should not be taken as accounting or tax advice or recommendations. Most state
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departments of revenue can help you with many of your tax questions. Become friendly with a trusted accountant to answer your accounting questions. Every effort is made to make this report as complete and error free as possible. However, occasionally mistakes may exist in the editing and/or content. This report should only be used as a guide and not as a definitive source of flea markets or flea market business opportunities. The main purpose is to inform and educate, and certainly not to recommend, provide, or imply any provisions for any legal, accounting, tax, or any other form of business advice. The authors and publisher do not warrant that the information contained in this report is fully complete and shall not be responsible for any errors or omissions. Also, we do not have the liability or responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss or damage caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by this report.

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Introduction – My Story, How I Got Started With a Flea Market Business
Being almost 50 years old, I guess at times I look back and wonder how I got from where I was to where I am. My path took me from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Minnesota, to Michigan, to California, to Florida, and then back to Wisconsin. I wasn’t the best of students in high school, I got by and that summer after I graduated, I hitch-hiked to Minnesota. Why, I don’t really know, I guess I just wanted to get away. My spirit is freer than most, some people say antsy, and I just wanted to go to Minnesota, so I did. I settled for a few years in Ely and did odd jobs like painting, cooking, and driving a truck. I liked driving a truck. I fell in love with over the road driving and moved to Colorado but mostly drove all over the country. I could have done without the city driving, but the cross country trips were just fantastic. Being a bit antsy, after about seven years of truck driving I had saved enough money to finally go to college. So I moved to southern California to attend school. That’s where my interest in running my own business started. Believe it or not, I majored in business. After working several years for a garden tool manufacturer in southern California, I got antsy again and got a job for a roofing company in Florida. I didn’t install roofs or anything like that, I just managed one of the local offices out of which the installers were located. Managing others was ok, but I was not terribly happy working for someone else. Florida has a lot of flea markets and like a lot of people, I would go to them and shop and buy a few things. Then one day, I was walking my dogs, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I thought, why can’t I sell stuff at flea markets and make at least as much as I was then? Being comfortable with numbers, I did the math and found that it wouldn’t be that difficult to make a living selling stuff at flea markets. I first step was really small because I was scared to just quit my day job and go into the flea market business. So I got a job in Fort Myers, Florida, working for a guy who owned a food vending business selling anything deep fried out of an old ice cream truck, of all things. This was only part time, but it allowed me to get a better feel for the flea market industry. Several months of that and I was ready to help others start their own small business. I simply went to the local flea market and interviewed a bunch of vendors. Then I went to the managers of the flea market and interviewed them. I was good at putting all this information together and coaching people on starting their own flea market
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business. Now, as with most things, the growth of my coaching business was slow but gradual. I kept researching more businesses. My weekends were spent researching and interviewing and finding out about a particular business, in this case the flea market business was my first. During the week I had to spend my time working my normal day job. Eventually, that got old so I decided to quit my job working at the roofing company and coach not only the local flea markets, but hit the road as well to coach other aspiring small business men and women. I discovered I love teaching and was good at it. So, I traveled mostly in Florida and the southern states. It was difficult at first, because I was used to the steady paycheck which was now gone. But I lived simply and my wife and I homeschooled our children, so we were very flexible about our travel schedule. Eventually, I got a bit homesick for my home state of Wisconsin. Antsy again. So I bought a resort in northern Wisconsin, you know, cabins on a lake that people rent out in the summer. The resort business keeps me busy in the summer and the coaching business keeps me busy in the winter. I get to live in one of the most beautiful places in the summer amongst the trees and lakes and wildlife. And I get to travel to warmer places in the winter, coaching other business people and feeding that love of driving across the open road once again. Some people ask me why I do this, and all I can say is “Antsy I guess”.

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Why a Flea Market Business? Seven Reasons Why
So, what’s so great about a flea market business anyway? Well, let’s go over the top seven reasons why a flea market business makes so much sense. Here they are: It’s a Simple Business Believe me, I’m not a person who likes complicated stuff. Who is for that matter? So a flea market business is really quite easy to understand and fairly simple to start. Here goes: you buy stuff, take it to a flea market, then sell it. That’s basically it. Yes, there are some blanks we need to fill in, but we’ll get to those later in this report. Most anybody can do it and most people have been to a flea market or swap meet and know how they work. It shouldn’t be terribly scary for anyone. It is something you can do, and if you do it right, you will be successful. The real eye opener is that most people don’t realize how much money there is in a flea market business. Think about the last time you attended a flea market. Were there a lot of vendors selling products? Do you think that they do it to lose money? Of course, not. They are there because they are making money, and some of them make a very decent living selling at flea markets. They have figured it out, and so will you once you finish with this report. The same goes for those who want to sell food at flea markets. Here goes: you buy the raw ingredients, you cook or make products, you sell them. Making food products like popcorn, pretzels, fudge, hot dogs, nachos, bread, ice cream, snow cones, donuts, cheese curds, dried fruits, roasted nuts, salsa, I could go on and on. There is no end to the possibilities! We will cover the details of selling food at flea markets later on in this report. It’s Quick to Get Started The next nice thing is that it is quick to get started. Now, there are a lot of businesses that you can start and they require a lot more preparation and work up front. Retail businesses need a store, “brick and mortar” as they call it. Manufacturing businesses need a factory. Professional organizations need office space. And many of these types of businesses need employees. That all takes a great deal of time and money to get organized and get going. All you need for a flea market business is some product and a flea market. I’ll go over some basic business start up forms for the government later on, easy stuff. I’ll
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also tell you where to buy products from. I’ve even seen a flea market vendor with just a small truck to transport the goods and banana boxes set on the ground for displaying the products. It just doesn’t get any simpler than that. It’s Got Little Risk Another great aspect of this business is that there is almost no down side. Your initial investment is low, your rental space is low, there is little or no advertising needed. I mean come on, you would have to really try to screw up to fail at this. Once you get going, and fine tune the products that you sell and the prices that you charge, you will only get better and better results. Sure, there is always some risk. You don’t wake up in the morning without taking on risk. But as business start ups go, this is a business with little risk. It Allows Flexible Workdays Here’s one of my favorite aspects about this business. It allows me to choose the days that I work. Not only that, it allows me to choose the places that I work. How many jobs can do that for you? You do have to be at the flea market on the day(s) they are open, but you can choose which flea markets to attend. Some have them only on the weekends, some have them only in the spring, summer, and fall, and some have them several days a week. If you want to take time off for a vacation, then go. For that week, you just don’t go to the flea market. The best thing is that you can sometimes vacation in between flea market days and still make money by attending the flea market. That way some of your travel expenses are considered business expenses and therefore, deductible for tax and accounting purposes. It Provides a High Return on Investment Ok, so what’s “return on investment”? It is simply a ratio expressed as a percent which shows or indicates how much money you made but takes into account the money you spent to make it. For instance, let’s say you make $1000 on a particular day at the flea market. Let’s also say that you spent $400 on the products that you sold and other expenses like space rental, etc. Your return on investment, or ROI, for that day would be 150% ($1000-$400 / $400 x 100). Another way to think about it is that it’s your profit (sales minus expenses) for a particular time period, like a day, a week, a month, a year divided by your costs for that particular time period. So, what can kind of ROI can a flea market business provide? Well that, of course depends, on “the decisions that you make and the actions that you take”. But,
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let’s say that you can mark up your products 100%. That should be easy and that’s a fairly conservative estimate. So let’s be realistic and not some pie in the sky number. Let’s say that on $1000 of product, you take in $2000. Let’s also say that for every $2000 that you take in, you spend 5% on expenses like, space rental, travel, lodging, meals, some equipment, supplies, and repairs and maintenance, which would amount to $100. So your ROI for that would be 82% ($2000-$1000-$100) / ($1000+$100) x 100. Is that good or bad? Well, over the long term, the stock market should yield you about 10%. I don’t know about you, but I would take an 82% ROI any day, given similar risk factors. It Can Provide You the Opportunity to Travel Similar to working when you want, a flea market business can provide you the opportunity to travel. What I have found is that most flea marketers travel regionally to different flea markets depending on the time of year and where they like to be. Folks in the Midwest, tend to stay in the Midwest. But there is no rule that says you have to stay close to home. Usually, the farther from home you travel the more expensive it becomes, because you are home less often. But think about it, isn’t it great that you can pick and choose where to work and where to visit. Typically, you can frequent the same markets or you can expand your range and travel further from home. Coordinating the trips away from home should be done to optimize the markets that you visit and the days on the road. It Can Be a Full Time or Part Time Job Now, for me, I have always had a threshold of $500 a day. If I cannot sell at least $500 a day at a flea market consistently, then I will not attend that flea market. However, you could possibly have the wrong products for that particular market, but usually the markets are pretty much the same, with just a few differences based on location. You will learn those as you go if you pay attention to what you are selling and what others are selling. So, let’s say you sell $500 a day, for 5 days a week. Certainly you should be at a flea market on the busy days of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Just pick two other days of the week and you will still have two days totally off per week. I have found that taking Tuesdays and Wednesdays off works best. Ok, back to my example, 5 days a week at a minimum of $500 per day. That’s $2500 per week. Subtract your product costs, assume a 100% markup and you are now left with $1250 per week. Now subtract 25% for expenses and you are left with just under $1000 per week. Remember that is an absolute minimum for me.
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So, at a minimum, you should be able to make about $1000 per week profit which would amount to around $52,000 per year. That’s not a bad starting point. If you were able to sell $750 (a much more typical) per day, assuming 100% markup and 25% for expenses, you would be pulling in $1400 per week or around $73,000 per year. That’s a very nice full time job. Please realize that your results will vary, but I’ll try to give you the best possible chance of making that kind of money and more, by providing you with the information and resources in this report. You have to be selling the right kind of products, which I will cover a little later on, and you have to be smart about which markets you attend, you will want killer locations, which I will also discuss in just a bit.

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So Are You Ready To Start Your Own Flea Market Business?
I always tell people that they really need to think about things like their family and their health before they start a new venture like this. I ask them, do they have a lot of energy? Are they in good health? Can they perform the physical part of the work day in and day out? Physically, this can be a demanding business and you need to know that you’re in good shape for that. There is a certain amount of standing, carrying, loading, unloading, set up, take down. But, as you know, with any job there are certain physical and mental demands. Just go into it with your eyes wide open. You’re going to have to have the ability to make a point, negotiate, to talk to customers about things sometimes that might not be comfortable to talk to others about, like maybe their credit card got declined, you maybe caught them stealing from you. If you are just incredibly shy, you are going to have to work to overcome some of that shyness. You also need to ask yourself these questions before you get started. Are you good at organizing? Are you good at organizing in systems? Because as you go on through this report, you’re going to realize that systems are incredibly important. You’ve got to have a really organized system for almost everything you do. Whether that be buying products, pricing products, or working with the managers of the markets you attend. If you don’t organize, things get really chaotic. Your new venture will turn into a disaster in no time. If you are very organized and systemized, you are going to do much better. Those are some of the things I think you need to ask yourself before you jump into the flea market business. It’s a wonderful business. The demand is high. It’s fun. The people you meet are really great. That, in and of itself, is worth millions.

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Setting Up Your Business
When setting up your business, a couple of points are important so we will be sure to cover these here. We will discuss how much will it cost, what kind of business structure to have, what to name your business, do you need any special permits or licenses, do you need any insurance, will you need to collect sales tax, and are there any federal government forms to complete? OK, so just how much money is this going to cost? What’s working capital and why is it important and how much do I need? Although this is probably one of the most important things for most new business owners to consider, it is difficult to determine until we discuss the other aspects of starting a business because the cost depends a lot on how you go about starting your business. I’ll lay out the steps and action items necessary and some of the cost considerations that go along with them.

Forms of Ownership
One of the first decisions that you will have to make as a business owner is how the company should be structured. This decision can have long-term implications, so consult with an accountant and attorney to help you select the form of ownership that is right for you. In making a choice, you will want to take into account the following: Your vision regarding the size and nature of your business. The level of control you wish to have. The level of structure you are willing to deal with. The business' vulnerability to lawsuits. Tax implications of the different ownership structures. Expected profit (or loss) of the business. Whether or not you need to reinvest earnings into the business. Your need for access to cash out of the business for yourself. I’ll cover the main types of business structure and the advantages and disadvantages of each. I don’t want to get too complicated here, but try to understand the basics of each type and how it would serve your best interests.

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Sole Proprietorships By far the most popular form of small business structure is a “sole proprietorship”. That’s how I started out and it is the quickest and easiest to start up. These businesses are owned by one person, usually the person who has day-to-day responsibilities for running the business. Sole proprietors own all the assets or stuff of the business and the profits (or losses) generated by it. They also assume complete responsibility for any of its liabilities or debts. In the eyes of the law and the public, you are one in the same with the business. You are the business and the business is you. Here are some advantages of a sole proprietorship:  Easiest and least expensive form of ownership to organize.  Sole proprietors are in complete control, and within the parameters of the law, may make decisions as they see fit.  Sole proprietors receive all income generated by the business to keep or reinvest.  Profits from the business flow directly to the owner's personal tax return making it relatively easy to complete an income tax return.  The business is easy to dissolve, if desired. Some disadvantages of a sole proprietorship are:  Sole proprietors have unlimited liability and are legally responsible for all debts against the business. Their business and personal assets are at risk.  May be at a disadvantage in raising funds and are often limited to using funds from personal savings or consumer loans.  May have a hard time attracting high-caliber employees or those that are motivated by the opportunity to own a part of the business. The list of federal tax forms used in a sole proprietorship is listed below. These are only the main forms and there may be others depending on your circumstances and you also may not need every form listed here. Form 1040: Individual Income Tax Return Schedule C: Profit or Loss from Business (or Schedule C-EZ) Schedule SE: Self-Employment Tax Form 1040-ES: Estimated Tax for Individuals Form 4562: Depreciation and Amortization

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Form 8829: Expenses for Business Use of your Home This is most likely the form of ownership or business structure you will choose and you can always change to another form at a later date.

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Partnerships In a Partnership, two or more people share ownership of a single business. Like proprietorships, the law does not distinguish between the business and its owners. The partners should have a legal agreement that sets forth how decisions will be made, profits will be shared, disputes will be resolved, how future partners will be admitted to the partnership, how partners can be bought out, and what steps will be taken to dissolve the partnership when needed. Yes, it's hard to think about a breakup when the business is just getting started, but many partnerships split up at crisis times, and unless there is a defined process, there will be even greater problems. They also must decide up-front how much time and capital each will contribute, etc. Here are some advantages of the partnership structure:  Partnerships are relatively easy to establish; however time should be invested in developing the partnership agreement.  With more than one owner, the ability to raise funds may be increased.  The profits from the business flow directly through to the partners' personal tax returns.  The business usually will benefit from partners who have complementary skills. Here are some disadvantages of the partnership structure:     Partners are jointly and individually liable for the actions of the other partners. Profits must be shared with others. Since decisions are shared, disagreements can occur. The partnership may have a limited life; it may end upon the withdrawal or death of a partner.

There are 3 basic types of partnerships that can be considered: 1. General Partnership – In this type of partnership, the partners divide responsibility for management and liability as well as the shares of profit or loss according to their internal agreement. Equal shares are assumed unless there is a written agreement that states differently. 2. Limited Partnership and Partnership with limited liability – The “limited” part of this type means that most of the partners have limited liability (to the extent of their investment) as well as limited input regarding management decisions, which generally encourages investors for short-term projects or for investing in capital assets. This form of ownership is not often used for operating retail or

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service businesses. Forming a limited partnership is more complex and formal than that of a general partnership. 3. Joint Venture – This partnership basically acts like a general partnership, but is clearly for a limited period of time or a single project. The list of federal tax forms used in a partnership is listed below. These are only the main forms and there may be others depending on your circumstances and you also may not need every form listed here. Form 1065: Partnership Return of Income Form 1065 K-1: Partner's Share of Income, Credit, Deductions Form 4562: Depreciation Form 1040: Individual Income Tax Return Schedule E: Supplemental Income and Loss Schedule SE: Self-Employment Tax Form 1040-ES: Estimated Tax for Individuals

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Corporations A corporation chartered by the state in which it is headquartered is considered by law to be a unique entity, separate and apart from those who own it. A corporation can be taxed, it can be sued, and it can enter into contractual agreements. The owners of a corporation are its shareholders. The shareholders elect a board of directors to oversee the major policies and decisions. The corporation has a life of its own and does not dissolve when ownership changes. Here are some advantages of the corporation structure:

 Shareholders or owners have limited liability for the corporation's debts or judgments against the corporations.  Generally, shareholders can only be held accountable for their investment in stock of the company. (Note however, that officers can be held personally liable for their actions, such as the failure to withhold and pay employment taxes.)  Corporations can raise additional funds through the sale of stock.  A corporation may deduct the cost of benefits it provides to officers and employees.  Can elect S corporation status if certain requirements are met. This election enables company to be taxed similar to a partnership. Here are some disadvantages of the corporation structure:  The process of incorporation requires more time and money than other forms of organization.  Corporations are monitored by federal, state and some local agencies, and as a result may have more paperwork to comply with regulations.  Incorporating may result in higher overall taxes. Dividends paid to shareholders are not deductible from business income; thus it can be taxed twice. The list of federal tax forms used in a corporation is listed below. These are only the main forms and there may be others depending on your circumstances and you also may not need every form listed here. Form 1120 or 1120-A: Corporation Income Tax Return Form 1120-W Estimated Tax for Corporation Form 8109-B Deposit Coupon

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Form 4625 Depreciation Other forms as needed for capital gains, sale of assets, alternative minimum tax, etc.

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Subchapter S Corporations This is a tax election only; this election enables the shareholder to treat the earnings and profits as distributions and have them pass through directly to their personal tax return. The catch here is that the shareholder, if working for the company, and if there is a profit, must pay him/herself wages, and must meet standards of "reasonable compensation". This can vary by geographical region as well as occupation, but the basic rule is to pay yourself what you would have to pay someone to do your job, as long as there is enough profit. If you do not do this, the IRS can reclassify all of the earnings and profit as wages, and you will be liable for all of the payroll taxes on the total amount. Limited Liability Company (LLC) The LLC is a relatively new type of hybrid business structure that is now permissible in most states. It is designed to provide the limited liability features of a corporation and the tax efficiencies and operational flexibility of a partnership. Formation is more complex and formal than that of a general partnership. In summary, deciding the form of ownership that best suits your business venture should be given careful consideration. Use your key advisers to assist you in the process.

Naming Your Business
Next we’ll talk about naming your business. A lot of people who start a flea market business come up with clever and funny names. Other times, they are really plain like “Bob’s Flea Market Products,” or “Joe’s Roasted Peanuts,” or something like that. I really suggest that when you’re starting your business that you really put some thought into your name. Although, because you will be selling at a flea market, you won’t necessarily be promoting your business name, it is a good idea to put at least a bit of thought behind your name. And it is actually kind of fun to give your new venture an actual name. Kind of like its own identity. A logo is a really good idea. You can create one yourself or have one done for you, if you can afford it. You can probably get a logo done by one of the logo companies online for $300 or $400. If you know someone with a bit of a creative flare and also knows a little about computer graphics, they could easily develop a nifty logo for you. An excellent place to use the logo is your booth signs, price tags, and business cards. It is very easy to create and print your own business cards on the computer with
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just a word processing application and special business card paper that breaks apart into business card sized pieces. I think that business cards are absolutely important. It shows that you are a business. If that logo is on your business card, it’s going to make you look a lot more substantial. You can have them on your table for people to take if they like your products and want to know where you will be selling them. Maybe you can establish a website to sell your products and you can include your website destination on your business card as well.

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Licenses, Permits, Insurance, Sales Tax
The best place to start with licenses and permits is your local government. Start with your city and either visit or call them and tell them you are planning on starting a business and want to know what forms, licenses, and permits are needed. They will ask you some questions about your business and set you up with the proper paperwork. This is important as failure to do so could leave you personally as well as your business open to possible fines and other legal actions. Most local county clerk offices will provide you with a business check list that outlines the requirements of your area. Do not skip this important step in starting your flea market business. If you are going to sell food, you will need a state or county health department permit. This usually doesn’t cost more than $100, probably much less. But they will want to inspect your equipment and procedures for cleanliness. They are usually more than happy to help you with what is required. I have been inspected many times and it has always been a positive experience. About insurance, simply contact your own insurance agent and ask them about the options for business insurance. If you do not have an agent, just call your local business chamber of commerce and the folks there will give you several reputable agents in your area. After visiting with an agent or two, decided what type of insurance needs you will require and the cost for them. This should cost somewhere between $300 to $1500 per year for insurance depending on the amounts of coverage. It is impossible for me to recommend any company or level of insurance as that is specific to each and everyone differently.

Sales Tax
Sales tax can seem like a complicated issue, but it’s really not. Simply put, you need to contact each state government department of revenue where you are going to be selling your products to determine the state and local requirements for collecting and paying sales tax. Start with your home state. They can help you determine if your sales are taxable. Unfortunately, not all the states are the same. Actually, each state is different. In some states, food products are not taxable, in some states they are. In some states, clothing is not taxable, in some states it is.

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This is where keeping good accounting records will be necessary. The general process is that you as a seller of products, collects sales tax from the buyers of your products. Then, usually monthly, you file a form with the state and pay them the amount of sales tax you collected. You are simply a collector and payer of sales tax, in and out. Some states have “temporary event” rules for flea markets and swap meets and trade shows. So when speaking with the state departments of revenue, ask about that also. I’m sorry I can’t give you more detail here, but each state is different and you will have to check out each state within which you plan to sell your products.

Federal Form SS-4
As one of the first things you do, make a point to fill out and file the Federal Form SS-4. It is pretty simple and if you are going to be in business, you really need to have an Employer Identification Number or EIN. Even if you don’t plan on having employees, this EIN is used for other purposes also. It doesn’t cost anything to get an EIN. If you open a separate bank account for your business, the bank may very likely ask for your EIN.

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Summary of Start Up Costs
Federal Form SS-4 - no cost Business Structure filing - $100 - $500 (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation) Local permits - $0 - 100 Health department permits - $20 - $100 (if you are selling food) Logo – no cost if you do it yourself Business Cards – no cost if you do it yourself, just special business card paper $10 at a local office supply store Remember to check with your local and state governments for all the filing, licensing, and permitting requirements. I have tried to cover the basics and most common items, but each state is different so you will have to check on your own. I would say it takes $500 to $1,000 to get you started unless you’re going to buy equipment for cooking and/or preparing food. We’ll talk about that further on. Even then, your working capital or the money and inventory needed isn’t really too bad. Finally, since we’re talking about business setup, we should discuss income taxes; and this is could be the most boring part of all this, but it doesn’t have to be. I know this start up discussion can be painful and you’re probably just bored to tears right now. We’re getting close to being done with this section. Let’s talk about income taxes. One of the absolutely beautiful things about the flea market business is that because your office is typically in your home, a portion of the cost of your home is going to be deductible on your federal and state taxes, typically. Also, a portion of your travel expenses, motel, meals away from home, and other miscellaneous expenses will also be deductible. Again, I’m not an accountant or a tax lawyer so I can’t tell you exactly what amount those deductions will be. Typically speaking, however, they are substantial. This is why it is best to get to know and trust a decent accountant or CPA to help you figure out exactly how to go about your deductions. It isn’t too terribly difficult, but consult with the people who know this stuff. Somebody is going to be able to give you advice. Again, you don’t have to hire these folks from day one but don’t wait too long. Also, the better records you keep the less an accountant will cost. You want to keep really clean records from day one. Everything needs to be tracked perfectly because

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that’s going to cut down on your accounting bill. I can’t stress this enough, KEEP TRACK OF ALL THE MONEY. Two great places to find good people to help with this are other small business people that you may know and your local Chamber of Commerce. Just ask other people you know that are in business who they use. I have never come across anyone who wasn’t willing to share a good recommendation. The same goes for the local Chamber of Commerce. Call them or stop by their offices and ask explain your situation and who they might recommend. I guarantee they can help. Now, if accountants have to go through shoeboxes of receipts and figure out what’s for what because nothing’s categorized, then it’s going to be extremely difficult for them and expensive for you. General software programs exist like QuickBooks, that can help you keep up with all your receipts, write your checks, and do all of that. QuickBooks is a reasonably good program; it costs less than $200. You can get it on-line, at just about any office supply store, Sam’s Club, or Costco. The only downside to QuickBooks is that it takes a little while to set it up. You’re going to have to spend probably a day maybe, or more, setting up all your categories, all your company information, all your business information in there. QuickBooks will do a pretty good job. It’s not particularly built for any specific kind of business, but it is a good general bookkeeping software. Most accountants or bookkeepers will be able to import your QuickBooks files and use them to reconcile your bank statements, to get your taxes ready, and to find out what’s deductible and what’s not. Most accountants will tell you that most people in this business have a great deal of tax deductions and are able to really offset their income quite considerably. In this start up section, we’ve talked mostly about the financial, accounting, and legal aspects of the business. In the next sections, we’ll discuss the actual operations of the business like what products to sell, what price to sell them at, and how to promote your products and business. I call these the 3 p’s: Products, Price, Promotion.

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Your Products
So you think you’ve got a great idea for something that would sell like wildfire. Maybe you do. However, just because you think it will sell doesn’t necessarily mean it will. There are a number of factors to take into consideration when you decide you want to sell at flea markets. Do a bit of research. Before actually starting to sell your own products, visit several flea markets in your area that you could eventually sell at. Obviously, gather the vendor information from the managers of the market. This will include the costs to rent a space, the days and hours they are open, any restrictions on what you can sell, and their policies and rules. You should be aware of all these before signing up for a particular market. When visiting the flea markets, take a notepad along so you can write down any thoughts that you have about that particular market. Also note what the vendors are selling. Sometimes flea markets will have a vendor directory, make sure you pick up one so you know who is there and what they are selling. Also take note of how busy the show is in general and how busy (or not busy) certain vendor booths are. You will need this research when you if your items are going to sell. Carefully evaluate the products being sold. I can’t stress this enough. You will need two main ingredients for a successful flea market business: 1) traffic (potential customers) and 2) products those potential customers want to buy. You must have traffic, so ask the managers of the flea market for some attendance figures and compare the different shows that you research. So, along with the traffic numbers that the promoters give you and that you observe, take note of the buying habits of the attendees. Try to determine the kinds of products that people are buying and ask yourself if those are the kind of products that you could sell. If you have sold your products before, then you should be confident in selling them at these markets. Talk with a few of the flea marketers there and ask if they do well at this market. It’s ok to share with them that you are considering displaying your products at the show. They might even share some inside information if you are friendly and pleasant. If you are just starting out, don’t forget about the possibility of you attending some local craft fairs. Do the same research for craft fairs that you would for flea markets. Craft fairs are a good way to get your feet wet with the whole show process.
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So, first, do your research about the product. Find out if there’s a niche for it. Even though you might be absolutely crazy about one of your products, this is about your future customers. Will they like it as much as you? It's easy to get attached to your stuff and think everyone will have the same warm fuzzy feelings about your products as you do. Think again. The biggest mistake marketers can make - is to sell what they want to sell and not what people want to buy. As with any new product or service, test marketing is important to any marketer's success. How can you test market something if it’s just little old you? There are many ways. For example, if you create or sell jewelry, wear a piece when you are going someplace public. See if you can get some comments on your pieces. If you do, it’s probably going to be a good seller, if not, just accept the fact that you might not have such a great idea after all. If you are already a vendor who sells at flea market or craft shows, try putting new product out with your old product. The way it sells can tell you a few things. First, if it goes quickly, you can count of one of two possibilities: either you’ve priced it too low or it’s a hot item. Either option isn’t such a bad thing. If you can sell at the price you’ve set and still make a profit, you will be making money although you could probably make more if you upped the asking price just a little. If it’s a hot item, you know it’s worth your time and effort to marketing vigorously. Obviously, when choosing a product to make and sell, you have to take into consideration what it would cost to make the item and what you can realistically expect to sell it for. One part of your flea market business should include finding a wholesale supplier for your products. Product quality is most important -- don't scrimp on quality as it is reflected in your sales. Also some of your sales will eventually be from repeat customers who are familiar with your products. You do not want to have a reputation of having poor quality. "Word of mouth can be your best and WORST advertising.' What if you find a hot product, but soon find other vendors have copied your product or idea and are selling it for less. Vendors copying others has always been a problem. Unfortunately, not much can be done about what they do. However, here's what I would do. . .

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I would take this hot product that others have copied and improve it somehow. Add more value (in the eyes of the customer) than the original. Kinda like making a new and improved version. That can be done a number of different ways, with product design or maybe even bundling it with something else. this gives you justification to charge a higher price. You don't want to be competing against those other 50 vendors, you will end up beating each other up and no one makes any money. Anybody can copy someone else, that's easy. What will separate those who are successful with those who fail is being a little bit creative and trying to stay just ahead of the curve so that as soon as someone copies what you do, you come out with the next improvement. Then your competitors are spending their time and resources on your old products, while you sell your new stuff. Even small changes can keep you leading the pack. I have similar advice if you see someone else successfully selling a product. Don't just copy them. Take what they do or sell and improve upon it, differentiating yourself and your products from what everybody else has. It doesn't have to be much, just be different and better and offer more value to your customers than those copycats.

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Products, Price, Promotion
At last we finally get to the good stuff, the stuff that actually greases the gears and gets the wheels in motion toward your own flea market business. In this section, we will talk about products, price and promotion. First of all you must have products, right? You bet. I’ll break down products into 3 categories: purchased, homemade, and food. Now before going out and just buying some products or making some products and turning around and selling them, you need to seriously think about the kind of products you want to sell. Consider if you have any particular interest in a category of products. Think about if you have a skill at making a particular kind of product. Maybe wood working is your specialty, maybe sewing, maybe making jewelry. There are many categories of products and I can tell you that focusing in a particular kind or products will benefit you by more customer interest at your booth. Below I have listed several different categories of products that you might consider. Baby Items: Accessories, apparel, toys, diaper bags, health care items, feeding items, furniture, handmade blankets. Hardware: Tools, hardware, painting tool & supplies, auto tools & supplies, gardening, pet supplies, electrical tools & supplies. Household: Kitchen tools & supplies, dining, bedding, linens, curtains, bathroom, cleaning, cookware, food containers. Leather Goods: Belts, purses, wallets, knife sleeves, hats, vests, cell phone cases, eye glass cases, watch bands. Stationery: Books, gift cards, party goods, office supplies, school supplies, art & crafts, gift wrap. Again, I really want to stress that you need to select a category of similar products. If is a food product, you can widen your scope of product offering to better round out your selections.

Purchased Products
The internet offers a number of options for purchasing products wholesale. These are typically called wholesalers or liquidators and are usually located on either
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the east coast or the west coast, with some located in the Midwest. Make sure you're dealing with a reputable company before buying. Check with the online Better Business Bureau to see the status of the company you're considering. To find these companies, just do an internet search for any of the following:     wholesalers liquidators flea market wholesalers flea market products

That should give you enough to go on. Believe me once you dig a little, you will begin to find a lot. These companies each have their own minimum order quantities, payment methods, and shipping requirements. Most take credit cards as payment and the buying process is very similar to other online buying like Amazon.com and others. Once you start, it is kind of fun to select the items you want to sell. But that brings up the question of which products sell the best? How do you know what you buy? There are 3 sources for the answer to those questions. First of all, your own judgement will typically be correct. I’m assuming you are an average person like me. You generally like what most people like. For instance, if you are interested in tools and hardware, you probably know what most tool and hardware enthusiasts like. Start with those types of products that you would find interesting and useful. The second place to look for the answer to those questions is other flea marketers. Believe it or not, most flea marketers are willing to share at least some of the information about their products. If they have a winner, they typically like to talk about it. Pose as a potential customer and talk with them about what is popular and what is selling. Also, actually watch what customers are buying at other flea marketers booths. Customers tell the truth with their wallets, watch what they buy. The third place to find out what products sell best is to simply ask the suppliers of your products which products are selling for them. That usually indicates which products will sell for you. Be careful of regional differences throughout the country. What sells in one part, may not always sell in another part of the country. There are a lot of products that do sell well in all parts of the country, but just be aware that regional differences exist. Also, take a trip to your local dollar store and see what they are selling. If they are selling it, chances are you will sell it too.

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Handmade Products
So let’s say you are handy with woodworking, a quilter, a jewelry maker, or maybe an artist of some sort. These kinds of products are very good to sell at flea markets or swap meets. People can tell the difference between a purchased quilt and a handmade quilt or handmade jewelry and purchased jewelry. Be sure you can actually make some profit on your homemade items. Sometimes the hours you spend making the products just doesn’t justify the amount of money you can charge, so be careful there. For instance, if a quilt takes 30 hours to create and $40 of material and you sell it for say $100, you are only making $60 for your time. $60 spread over the 30 hours it takes to make it and you are only being paid $2 per hour. Now, that begin said, I know homemade and handmade items demand a higher price than cheaper purchased products. I’ll bet that a handmade leather belt can be higher priced than a cheap purchased one. Don’t get me wrong, cheap products have their place and are in demand, it’s just that the handmade ones are in a different category and should be priced accordingly. This category of handmade products is really the neatest thing. It’s where you can turn your interest, hobby, or passion into a business. Also, here’s a little secret, if someone is making and selling handmade items, it is very probable that you can sell a cheaper version by purchasing a similar product from a wholesaler or liquidator.

Food Products
Food products are also great products to sell at flea markets. Everybody’s got to eat, right. Usually profit margins are higher being anywhere in the 40% - 75% range. One drawback is that usually, you will need some equipment to get started. Equipment costs money. Also, you must pay strict attention to cleanliness and freshness, that’s very important. If some of your product spoils before you sell it, you must throw it away and never ever use bad or spoiled food. People can get sick or worse if they eat spoiled or poorly or improperly prepared food. That being said, food products are good sellers and when done correctly, provide customers with a real treat. Like I stated earlier, foods usually need some special equipment and that equipment can be very specialized. However, it doesn’t always cost a lot of money to get some good used equipment. Just do a search on an auction site
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like ebay.com and most likely you will find some equipment. Here are some ideas for food products that sell well at flea markets and swap meets:

Donuts Cheese curds Nachos Sno-cones Dried fruits Roasted nuts Hot dogs Other sausages BBQ Ribs Popcorn Drinks like root beer, lemonade, flavored water Salsa Jams and jellies Beef jerky Maple syrup Soft pretzels Fudge Breads

I’m sure you can think of others and related items to these. Now, if you invest in equipment, whether it be a wagon, a cart, a vehicle, or just a machine, you do have an opportunity to earn even more money in addition to the flea markets and swap meets. Here are 7 other places that you should consider selling food besides flea markets. Not
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all of them apply to all types of food, but give each one some consideration and decide whether or not it might work for you.

Warehouses, factories, and industrial parks. Roadsides. Colleges and Universities. Busy downtown street corners or walk ways. Parking lots. Small festivals or county fairs. Special events like concerts or sporting events.

You need to remember a couple of things and always keep them in mind when selling at these types of places. First of all, get permission to be there from the property owner. And secondly, always have the proper permits to sell in those locations. Most don’t require anything special, but a quick check with the local government, can save you a lot of time, hassle, and money, if you violate local ordinances. The lesson here is to do your homework. Now that we have a good handle on the types of products to sell at flea markets, let’s look at how to price them. Pricing can be a tricky process. But don’t let it throw you or bog you down. The great thing about price is that it is totally up to you and within your control. Ultimately, the customers determine the price at which they are comfortable buying at. All you have to do is to figure out what that is, but it’s not that hard. Let’s take a look at several pricing strategies: mark up, competitor, and negotiated.

Mark Up Pricing
Mark up pricing means starting with the cost of the item and adding usually a percentage to that to come up with the price. If a product costs $1 and you mark it up 100%, the result is a $2 selling price. The advantage of this method is that it is easy to
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do. It is a relatively simple mathematical formula and exercise. The disadvantage of the mark up method is that it can be difficult to know what percentage to use when pricing products. I mean, is a 100% markup a good markup, will customers buy at that price, will I make any money at that price? These are all very good questions. To answer these questions, consider using the mark up method as just one part of the way to determining price. You will see as we move along our discussion of pricing, that it is best to use several methods to determine price. Let’s look at competitor pricing next.

Competitor Pricing
Competitor pricing is simply pricing your products close to similar products that others selling those same items are selling at. Remember there is nothing wrong with using the information that others have used and the experience others have experienced to help you in your decisions. If more than one vendor is selling at or near the same price, it is a good indication that they have found the proper price. Competitor pricing is typically the best and quickest way to do research on pricing. Simply walk a flea market, make note of products that you might be interested in selling, also note their price, and then try to find a supplier of that product so that the cost is such that it will provide a profit at the price you noted. There is a time when I would not use competitor pricing. And that is when the price a competitor is using is below the cost of the product. This would mean you are losing money on each sale. Either the other vendor is buying at a lower price than you or he is losing money on the sale. Either way, reconsider your price at this point. As you might have guessed, mark up pricing and competitor pricing should be used together to best determine the proper pricing of products. One last pricing method should be used as you sell your products and that is negotiated pricing.

Negotiated Pricing
Negotiated pricing is pricing that is determined at the time of the sale. We use negotiated pricing when buying a car. Negotiated pricing is less formal that the other
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two methods, but is still very useful. Always be open and willing to negotiate. However, don’t feel bad about holding your ground with what you consider your lowest price to be. Try to upsell when people start negotiating. I mean try to get them to purchase more in return for giving them a break on price. See if you can always get something for your decrease in price like more sales. The amount of negotiating that you do will depend upon the kind of products you sell. Higher priced items leave more room for negotiation so you will do more negotiation with them. That being said, most of the time, you will not have to negotiate and people will pay the price that is marked. Keep in mind that negotiating can start with you, it doesn’t have to start with the customer. When someone is interested in your product or products, they might need just a bit of a deal to get them to buy. You will have to be aware of their actions and possibly suggest a deal to them if you feel they might walk away without buying. Negotiating is definitely a skill you will learn. There will be times when you may have gone too low on price. That’s ok, just learn from it and don’t do it again. If I told you all the mistakes I have made since getting into business for myself, I could write another 100 pages. But the key is to learn from everything you do. As you may have determined, pricing entails using sometimes all three pricing methods, mark up pricing to make sure you make enough profit, competitor pricing to ensure you are competitive with others, and negotiated pricing as the deal is taking place. The great thing about price is that it is totally within your control so you can adjust continually if needed. The final “P” in the 3 Ps is promotion. All that means is how will you promote or advertise or let prospective customers know who you are, what you sell, and where you can be found. Along with that, it’s how do you get customers to stop by your booth or table as they walk on by. We will talk about ways to do that as well.

Promotion
Since you will be most likely selling at an established flea market site, the need for additional promotion is limited. The owners or managers of the flea market usually take care of making sure the public is aware of the flea market, its hours, and days of operation. That makes the general promotion part of the flea market business pretty

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easy. Now, what about the specific promotion, once people come to the flea market, how do you get them to stop at your booth. This is very important so I’ve broken this down into several categories for ease of discussion: signage, attraction, presentation, and the experience. Most of these are kind of free. People are not going to drive across town to go to your booth, but they will drive across town to go to the flea market. Then once there, people are going to see your sign, see your stuff and hopefully want to check it out and take a closer look for themselves. Most people are in the mood for buying something because that’s what you do at a flea market. So you already have them wanting to buy something. Often times, that’s the biggest battle, and you already have that one won. So have some type of sign or poster indicating what you are selling. Keep this simple, yet have it communicate to the people walking by why they should stop at your booth. Not just a name like “Bob’s Flea Market Stuff”. More like “Unique hand crafted jewelery, made from genuine imported pearls, 20% off listed price.” See how that is more enticing than the other. Here’s a guide for your signage: Tell them what you sell – “Unique hand crafted jewelery” Tell them why it’s cool or unique – “made from genuine imported pearls” Tell them why they should stop and look – “20% off listed price” Of course, always tell the truth in your advertising, that goes without saying. Your sign can be as simple as a poster board tied to the post of your tent or as elaborate as a vinyl sign hanging across your entire booth. I have also seen the electronic signs that scroll a message across them. They are attention getting but do require you to have electricity at your booth. That is something that not all flea markets have and if they do, they typically charge for that service. If you can park your vehicle at your booth, then you might be able to use the vehicle power for a source of electricity. Again, the point here is to have something that attracts people’s attention. A sign with a good message is what you need. Then, your products must be presented in an organized and logical fashion. You should group similar products together, arrange them from small to large or some other sequence, or organize your products by function. This helps create logic and makes common sense in the customer’s mind, thus creating a more interested and open customer. Depending on your products, display racks, shelves, cases, or boxes can help with presentation. You will have to decide for yourself on what works best for your particular kind of products. Also, look
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at how other vendors display and present their products to get ideas about how you might want to display and present yours. Finally, when possible, create an “experience” for your visitors. This is where the art of selling comes in. But don’t worry, you don’t need to be a slick used car salesman. Just follow these few steps and you will do fine. Be friendly. By this I mean just simply smile, talk with people, ask them questions and wish them a good day. Interact with them in a fun and nice way and people will be more apt to buy from you than the grumpy guy or lady sitting in their booth with their arms crossed and a frown on their face. Appear to be happy doing what you are doing. By doing that, you are more approachable and less threatening, no doubt about it. Be unique. Find a way that you feel comfortable with like, wearing a unique piece of clothing, how about an interesting and different hat, maybe learn to juggle. You just want to grab people’s attention and make them notice without making them uncomfortable. Don’t make a fool out of yourself or anyone else, just have some fun with the idea. Sometimes you can play music at your booth, but be careful not to anger your neighboring vendors. Some flea markets have restrictions on the volume of music that can be played.

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Saving Money on Supplies
Shop around for the best deal. Prices can vary greatly from vendor to vendor. Once you find a low-cost supplier, don’t stop there. Over time, prices change. It’s a good idea to always keep an eye out for another distributor who might have a lower price. Buy wholesale and save big. Many supplier offer discounts to qualified buyers. Qualifications differ, but usually a Retail Tax ID number will suffice. You can get a business tax ID number by calling your local courthouse and going from there. Sometimes, your social security number will be your business ID number. Once you have that identification number, ask suppliers if they offer wholesale discounts. Have them outline to you how you can qualify for this discount and don’t hesitate to take advantage of that discount. Buying supplies in bulk can save you huge amounts of money. Of course, you’ll need to know what you’ll need, but buying more of your supplies at one time can save you big cash! When you are shopping for supplies, ask the vendor if quantity discounts apply and, if so, what the amount of savings would be. Don’t be afraid to use recycled materials. You may be able to save quite a bit by using recycled woods, paints, plastic, metal, and so much more. Of course, all your supplies cannot come from recycled materials, but you might be surprised at where you can cut costs if you give it some thought. Of course, you should always check at discount stores for supplies. Many large chain stores offer comparable prices on certain supplies. If you intend to resell the product that you produce and you have a business tax ID number, you can avoid paying sales tax. This would entail talking to the store manager, but it is well worth it if you can save money. Maybe you’re afraid to start. That’s understandable. There’s a lot to consider when you take a leap like this. You don’t want to make a mistake and fail – heck who can blame you? Not many people. The fear of failure is huge and can hold most people back when taking a drastic step in life. Let’s start this book out by looking at the most common mistakes a crafter makes when starting to sell their crafts.

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Mistakes to Avoid (To Err is Human)
We all make mistakes. It’s part of being a human being. You are not perfect, and you will never be perfect. Still, the fear of erring can be huge – at times keeping you from doing what you know you really want to do. Often, the most powerful weapon you have against failure is how to know what NOT to do before you begin. When talking about a crafting business, there are some mistakes that are made over and over again that can stop your small business before it even starts. First and foremost, the novice seller will price their product too low in hopes of selling it quicker thus insuring success. Unfortunately, this has a backwards effect on the business. You end up working yourself to the bone to sell your product for just a small profit and saturate the market with your work. Remember, you should not only make sure your pricing includes your materials, but there are other factors to work in as well. These include marketing (flyers, show feeds, traveling expenses, etc.) and your labor. After all, you want to make money and this IS your business. You should expect to be paid for your time. You should have a solid business plan to refer to at all times. You don’t need to hire a professional business planner, all you need is to have a well-thought out strategy as to how and where you will be selling your crafts. Think about what shows you plan to attend and the costs associated with being at those shows along with pricing supplies and your marketing materials. When you think these things through and write them down before you start selling, you will be more apt to stay on track and keep you from over-extending yourself throughout the course of a year. Of course, there are times when a business plan needs to be modified, so prepare for this as well. You may hit on an amazing product that sells like wildfire, and you will have to adapt to meet your market and customers. Look at your original business plan often and make changes as needed according to your needs. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Starting off too big is a huge mistake that many beginning crafters make. Many will borrow thousands of dollars in anticipation of being able to pay it back quickly. This very rarely happens, so keep your initial investment low and grow as your business does.

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Buying the best of everything might seem like a good investment at first, but when the “salad days” come, those loan payments can break your business in a hurry. On the same note, you should begin selling your products at local flea market or craft shows to begin with and move your way up to the top-rated shows. Local craft fairs will have more reasonable booth fees and increase your profit margin. Once you’ve succeeded in a local market, then you can look at the bigger shows. Be wary, though of attending the wrong shows, especially if your craft is fine art. If people are paying out the nose for hamburgers and hot dogs, you would tend to think that they won’t complain about the price of your high-end crafts. This is completely and totally wrong! Fine crafts and artwork belong at shows where customers can appreciate the work involved. This show is not a street fair; it’s more a showcase of professional artists. Most people hate to make budgets. I know I do. This is mostly because they can be constraining and difficult to follow. Because they hate to even try to put a budget together, many people just don’t. A budget is not some elaborate financial statement that takes days to write. It’s simply a way for you to tell your money what to do instead of your money telling you what it is going to do. At the end of each month, plan next month’s budget based on your performance. Start with minimum expenses, which are things you must have to function like show fees, supplies, etc. Then work your way down the list to thing you would like to do if you make enough money. When planning your budget, be sure to allow for savings that will get you through the lean times – and there will be some lean times. That amazing show you attended last year might not be as profitable this year. This can put a huge dent in your profits and expenses and make you upside down. If you have funds available for emergencies, you will be able to stick it out through the times when you don’t make enough money to meet expenses. It’s best to keep three to six months of operating expenses in savings. Sure, this could be a substantial amount, but having this type of savings readily available, in times of need, can mean saving your business.
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Some people will like your product, and some people won’t. It’s a fact, so get used to it. There are all types of people out there, too. Not everyone will be nice when looking through your wares. Two comments you can almost count on hearing at nearly all events are: “I can get that for half the price at Wal-Mart.” And “I’ll just make it myself.” I have come up with some snappy comebacks specifically for these rude comments. You may choose to say them or think them, but they seem to work pretty well. Try:

“I can get that for half the price at Wal-Mart.”
“Say Hi to the greeter for me” And

“I’ll just make it myself.”
“But will you?” Unfortunately, there are obnoxious people in the world and it seems many of them like to practice their offensive skills at flea market or craft shows. It’s important that you not take any negative comments personally. Put very simply – Don’t listen! Seriously, if these people had the creativity, skills, and dedication that you do, they would be at home making their own crafts instead of making rude comments to you. Pay attention to construction criticism (such as adding a color), but do not beat yourself up because of comments from someone who has nothing else to do than harass crafters. Be careful of following trends. You decided to go into the crafting business with a product that you love and are good at making. Too often, new crafters will see a fellow crafter sell their product like wildfire and think that they should follow suit with the same product at a different show. Remember that trends come and go. Craft business owners who follow those trends come and go too. Of course, you should create a product that may be trendy in the interest of your business. If snowmen are “in” for the holiday season, create some

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to complement your other items, but never ever change your product line completely to follow the crowd. Having a business means you will have to pay taxes. Like it or not, Uncle Sam will get his cut of your profits – and you need to plan for that. One of the number one reasons for small business failure is poor tax planning. If you want to stay in business, plan for those taxes. It’s always best to have an accountant, but you can use QuickBooks or some other money management software to do your taxes. The main thing to remember is that when you make money, there will probably be taxes due. Don’t wait until April 15th to try and find the money that will be due. Plan to have it on hand. Keep a separate checking account for your business. Keep any tax savings in this account for easy transfer. Believe me, you’ll be glad you have it there and won’t have to worry when tax filing time comes. Finally, don’t spend too much on your new business. Do you really need a brand new trailer to haul your display and inventory from show to show? Go for the used trailer instead or buy a larger vehicle like a van. The same goes for equipment and supplies. Used equipment does the same job at half the cost. This includes anything you invest for your booth like a canopy or cash register. Scout out the Internet for discount wholesalers for your supplies. There are plenty of places out there who can save you money on everything you need to make what you will sell. Remember, you’re in business to make money, not spend it! When you start a business – and this will be a small business – there are many things to take into consideration. You will definitely need to figure out how to market your product, so you’ll need to devise a marketing campaign. One unique part of an effective craft marketing campaign is telling your story.

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Operationally, What Will You Need?
As far as needed equipment goes, you only need a table or two or three to display your products and a vehicle to haul them. I have even seen open boxes with product in them just sitting on the ground. No tables. I do suggest tables or some type of way to display your products. Some flea markets already have tables or flat surfaces for you to use. Check with each flea market that you plan on attending for their set up. Some needed supplies are a money belt of some sort, find one that works best for you and is comfortable for you. Have some marking pens and paper and price tags, after all, people got to know how much your products cost. Here are some other items to have handy: a calculator, a flashlight, an inspected and approved fire extinguisher, a cooler for your drinks and food, and duct tape because you just never know. If you will be outside, it is nice to have one of those very portable and easy to assemble tents. They start at about $100 for the basic model. It is not absolutely necessary, but a nice to have to shade yourself from the sun and to cover yourself from the rain. A good brand is “EZ Up Tents” available at www.ezupdirect.com. Your booth space is your storefront at the flea market or craft show. How you set up your space can have a huge impact on sales. You want to convey an inviting, professional, and attractive look. If you have the space, it’s a good idea to set up your display cases or tables in an “L” shape, where people can have a sense of “walking into” your temporary store, or an “interior box” where people can walk all the way around your displays. With any set-up, be very aware of “traffic flow” – how will your customers maneuver around your space, so they are comfortable, and can comfortable examine your wares. The trick is to make your booth, functional for your customers to be able to view everything and reach everything without fear of breaking something, or causing something to fall. Most spaces at flea market or craft shows vary from 8'x5' to 10'x10' for single spaces. What you now need to do is find an area where you can mark off 8'x5'. This will help you plan how to set up the space you’ve been given. You can use something as simple as cans for the corners of your space, but don't trip on them or move them around. You can also use masking tape on your floor or carpet.

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Decide whether or not you want everything on a table or if you want to give your display some height. We cannot stress enough that you should not make your display boring by just throwing some items on a table and sitting back to collect the money. Remember that your customer’s eyes will wander and you want to be able to keep them engaged while browsing your product. There are many ways for you to get some height to your display. You can buy plastic take-apart shelves that will look good and be easy to carry. This will give you some heights and if your items will work on a shelf that will be great. If you need a back on the shelf you can get a piece of plywood cut to fit and then connect it to the shelf so that it will not fall. If the items that you might want to lean on the backing are light weight you can use a piece of fabric cut to fit and place under the bottom to make it tight. Another way to acquire height is to have a small peg board made to fit on the ends of the table, screens in frames, mesh wire in frames or metal grids. What ever you use you will want to make it safe so that it will not fall over onto your customer. There are so many ways to make heights and it really depends on your crafts as to what you want and how you want to display these items. You can even go to the boxes that you carry your items in and place them on the table to make a riser and then you will want to cover this with fabric. There is one very important thing to remember here. Most flea market or craft shows will want you to look professional and cover your table to the floor all the way around. You can buy professional covers made for your table or you can get very reasonable fabric to cover your table with. You will have to make sure that you do not have anything on the floor to trip your customer. If you choose a plain color of fabric you will not have problems with your items showing up. Some people even use plain white sheets with the ends folded is so that the sides also look professional. Now that you have a table set up, see if this is how you want your items to show. You will play around with this at several shows before you are really happy with your set up and even then you will keep changing as your craft changes. Always keep in mind that you can always change the way that you display your items. You may find ways that others use to show off their items that might work for
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you also and choose to do something similar. If you try a set up at home first you will have an idea of how much space you will need and how to set it up when you arrive at the show location. Practice at home with your set up and then after you have your space set up the way that you think you want it, leave the room and rest awhile from it. Now come back into the area with a fresh view and think of yourself as the customer. How does your space look to you now? Are you happy with your idea or is it lacking something? You usually do not have the time to do al of the playing around when you arrive to set up. There are several large items that you need to set on the floor. Now what do you do? Move your table around (on the side or back of the area) and place the items where you want them on the floor. This is the fun part, while you are at home and under no pressure to hurry and set up. With practice at home you will be more relaxed when you arrive at the location of the flea market or craft show. There are so many different ways to set up your booth that working it out at home first is really a must. Remember, that you can always change things around and your set up is not set is stone. Don’t over-fill your booth. Too many items are distracting to potential customers. Keep some product back to re-stock – especially if you are at a multiple day show. If you find a vendor close that you become friends with you can also ask for suggestions. Most of the crafters will be more that happy to help each other, all you have to do is ask. If you have a slow period during the flea market or craft show you can recheck your set up. You need to remember that everything will need to fit into your vehicle and that is another place that you may want to practice. At most flea market or craft shows, a minimum of equipment is provided for your use – a table and 2 chairs. Sometimes, you will be given nothing at all. Most standard tables are lower to the ground than optimum. You can get PCV pipe at a local hardware store, in a width that will slip over the legs of the table.

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You can cut pieces in 1 foot or 1 ½” foot lengths, and raise your tables before you set up. In this way, your customers won’t get sore backs and have to stand in uncomfortable positions while viewing your merchandise. Don’t forget to bring a couple of chairs, if these are not provided. Lawn chairs are perfectly acceptable and they fold up making them easy to transport and store. When planning your original display or improving on an existing display always keep in mind your product as well as the image you wish to project to your potential customers. Everything must be consistent with your business image or your customers will get confused. Are you country, Victorian, or High Tech? Be sure your image is cohesive; this includes the color and texture of your display, the lettering and material of your signs and even down to the type of promotional material, your business cards and flyer. Remember the purpose of a great display is --- TO SELL PRODUCT! If a prop does nothing to enhance the product and encourage sales then don't spend the time, energy and money on it. Use the KISS principle when creating your booth --- KEEP IT SIMPLE SILLY! The amount of time and money you spend on your booth should be in direct proportion to the number of shows you plan to do in a year. Part of your booth planning should include a credit card machine. Credit cards are the common currency of shows and fairs, and if you don't accept them, you're going to lose sales to vendors who do. You also face the risks of dealing with bounced checks from strangers who may be hard to track down after the show. Especially if you're selling work priced in the hundreds of dollars, credit cards are a must. It is a huge advantage when you accept credit cards. If you are just getting started, you may not be able to do this at first, but getting a merchant credit card setup for your business should be an item high on your list. When accepting checks, be sure to get the person's Driver's License number and their phone number. Verify that the preprinted address on the check is the current address. Don't accept starter checks -- those checks people get when they open a bank account, and which don't have preprinted address/phone information on them.

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Checks are numbered consecutively. For those with a number less than 300, you should be cautious in accepting these. You are a business, and you owe it to yourself to be cautious – even if a person gets upset with you. Have a sign-up box for a free giveaway. Not only does this drive traffic to your booth, but it helps you build your mailing list. Shows are a great way to develop your customer database. Try putting a fishbowl on your table and offering people a chance to win something in return for giving you their contact information or business cards. Giving away promotional items with your company's name and logo works, too. This way, you can send out postcards inviting prospects to your next show or providing them with a catalog or link to your website. Don't forget to collect e-mail addresses, too! It's a lot cheaper to send out 100 email messages than it is to pay for paper and postage. Make your display cases, if you use these, portable. There are many easy-toassemble systems you can purchase through a fixture/display store, catalog or on-line business. If you will be outside and need a tent, you can get a great 10’ x 10’ or similar sized tent at a reasonable price at many discount stores, like Sam’s or Costco's, or online. These tents are compact, and pack up into a very manageable bundle. It’s useful to have panels on each side that can roll up or down, depending on the weather. Determine how well the tent will perform in wet weather and in high winds. Determine if you can hang things from the tent’s frame, or if you will need to set up separate display panels. Be sure you practice assembling and dissembling the tent prior to the show. Determine if it will take one person or more than one person to do this. By all means, include a sign with all of your pertinent information. This information should include your business name and location along with a phone number and website. Signs should generate interest and help sell your products. Don’t use “superlatives” like best, most, cheapest, largest and the like. In as few words as possible, tell the customer how your product will solve his or her problem, or meet his or her needs. Be positive and diplomatic in your wording. Writing “unruly kids will be sold as slaves” makes the point much better than “No Kids”.
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Explain that which is not obvious. What’s it made of? When using the product, what must be avoided – such as getting it wet? Are there any disclaimers or conditions? What are the advantages of your product over others? Use colors, typefaces, and images on your sign which have the same feel as your merchandise. Don’t overdo your signage, so that the signs overwhelm your inventory. Be sure you have a clear, prominent sign that includes the name of your business. If your booths are numbered, this number should appear on the sign. Now that you have your area set up, did you remember that you will want to sit down and have room for a money box or something to keep your money in? To start with you can buy small cash boxes. You will not want to be fumbling around in a shoe box or cigar box like you may have done at a garage sale. Later you may want to buy a small cash register. If you use a money box, you will want to keep it away from hands so you may want to get a box fixed to hide your money box in. Do not forget that you will need to have bags on hand for your items. Your customers can not carry everything around and if they do not have bags you will not be able to tell if they bought the items or not. If your item is too large for a bag you may want to place a bright sticker on the sold items so that you know that it was purchased. There are many times that a person will get discouraged, but keep in mind that you need to do more than one or two shows to really know if flea market or craft show selling is for you or not. Spring shows are a good place to start as they are slower than the fall shows, but this is where you can get discouraged since the sales are lower. Remember, at this point you are practicing. Summer shows are mostly outdoors. And then you have one day shows to four day mall shows. Do only what you feel that you can do and do not extend yourself too far. There are certain items of etiquette that need to be addressed for both you and your fellow crafters. When attending flea market or craft shows, there are some simple things to keep in mind that will make you a better neighbor. Remember that there are others at the event who are there, like you, to make money. To make the best of things you should try to acknowledge the needs and rights of your fellow crafters.
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The number one rule is to stay within your allotted space. If your display needs that extra "couple of inches", buy it from the promoters before the event. Often you will need to purchase a "double" booth or at least an additional half space. Check with the show promoter to see what options you have regarding measurements. If you do not want to incur that added expense, you may need to redesign your display so that it will fit in the space you purchase. Whatever you do, do not extend your display into your neighbor's space! The quickest way to make an enemy at a show is to steal space from a fellow exhibitor. And it is stealing. When you put your display into another crafter's booth, you are taking space that someone else has paid for, which is theft, not to mention, rude. Design your booth in a way that makes it accessible without infringing on your neighbor. While this relates to the guideline above, it is actually a little different. Sometimes, a display layout may need to be accessible on two sides. In most cases this would require a corner or end spot, and they cost more too. Check with the folks in charge of your event. If you are side by side with two other exhibitors, your booth will only be accessible from the front. Don't expect your neighbor to redesign their booth so customers can get to an extra side on yours. By all means, talk to fellow exhibitors, but don’t be a pest. Talking to other crafters is a great way to network and make new friends. But don’t stand around talking if a customer walks in. Remember, they are there for the same reason you are – to make money. Just like you, they have less of a chance to make a sale if someone is continually visiting or blocking customers from viewing their product. Make time to set up before the show begins. Setting up your booth takes time – more for some than others. Whether it takes you a few minutes or several hours, make sure you allot enough time to finish before customers arrive. Boxes blocking aisles keep customers from visiting other booths. Even if you are not in the aisles, setting up a display in your space while the show is open distracts customers – not only from you, but from the adjacent booths as well. This can hurt sales – for everyone!

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Be acutely aware that there are others attending events beside yourself. Be courteous to fellow vendors and keep in mind that what may work best for you may infringe upon other exhibitors. Too many negative happenings can make enemies of your fellow vendors, or even get you banned from a show. By getting along with others, you can sometimes make important contacts and better yet, friends for life! So what do you do once you’re at the flea market or craft show? Believe it or not, so much more than just sit there and wait for buyers!

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Making Each Show Your Best Show
Getting to the show and setting up is only half the battle. There’s so much more involved in making this show your best show. We should first tell you that, unless absolutely unavoidable, you should never take on selling at a flea market or craft show by yourself. While shows can be exciting and profitable, they can also be physically and emotionally exhausting. That's why it's important to bring along someone to help you work the booth and deal with customers. This will also give you a chance to get up and go to the bathroom and grab a hotdog or something to drink without losing sales. Ask a friend or family member to go with you. Most will be willing – especially if they share the same love of handcrafted items that you do. Don’t make them pay for anything – if at all possible. That’s just one perk. Perhaps you can offer them a percentage of the profits for those who are reluctant to help you out. If you decide to go it alone, realize that your booth will be unmanned for a certain amount of time. If you must walk away – even for a short time, try to get one of the neighboring booths to help you out. And, by all means, offer the same back to them. Probably the first thing you should upon arrival and completion of set-up is to walk the show. See what other vendors are offering and what they are charging. Ask them about their work, introduce yourself as a fellow flea marketer or craftsperson, and take an interest in their booth. This is a perfect time to take note of how their booths are set up, note what they are doing to attract customers, and mimic their demeanor, if it seems like it would help you sell yourself. Consider what they’ve done and how they’ve done it – especially if they’re selling something similar to what you have available yourself. There are two things that vendors at flea market or craft shows do that could hinder sales. Because your booth space is your showroom, you need to project a professional image. That includes curbing certain behaviors. Many flea market or craft shows these days ban smoking while in attendance – both by vendors and attendees. Even if smoking isn’t banned, it’s a really bad idea to

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smoke while in your booth space, especially if you are selling clothing or items where smoke smell might linger. Since it’s not advisable to attend a flea market or craft show to sell your product alone, tell your partner you are taking a break, and walk away from your booth – far away. Smoking can run off potential buyers quicker than body odor! Though much less likely to offend than smoking, eating while in your booth is also a chancy behavior. You really should avoid eating in front of customers. When you are engaging in behaviors like eating, it seems to customers that you are not really interested in selling your crafts and they will simply walk away. Greet everyone who stops by to look, but don’t be pushy. Be friendly, but don’t feel you have to sell your crafts unless what you’ve made has a unique feature that isn’t readily visible. Being pushy can drive away a potential customer quite quickly. At the very least, make sure your display table is clean and attractive and that your products are well displayed with prices clearly marked. Some people string lights in their booths and display color photos of their work to spice things up a bit. Still others will play some type of music which can relax a customer and make them more apt to buy. If you’re a crafter, so take this opportunity to build your inventory. There will possibly be a lot of downtime while you’re at the show, so bring along your supplies and continue making your crafts while you’re selling. People like to see a craftsperson creating artwork in his booth, not just selling it. While this isn't always possible, it's a crowd-pleasing idea that works well for jewelry makers, woodworkers, quilters and other craftspeople. Show customers that you know what you are doing and that you love it enough to continue even when you could be relaxing. Making crafts while in your booth serves a dual purpose: you show them you love your work, but you are also building your inventory. In fact, how much inventory to bring along to a show is probably the biggest question for new crafters.

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Signing Up At Flea Markets (Sometimes Getting There is Half the Battle)
Most flea markets have a set of rules that vendors must follow. Usually when you inquire about signing up, they will give you the written rules right then and there. Read the rules so you know what is expected and what are the dos and don’ts. This paperwork usually details the cost for renting a space and other rules governing: The sale of firearms at the market The sale of fireworks at the market The sale of drug paraphernalia at the market The sale of knives at the market Pets at the market The sale of pets at the market Hours for set up Hours for the market Refund policy Size of the booth Audio or video device volume Cleanup Take down Finding flea markets begins with your local Chamber of Commerce. They will know if a flea market exists in your area. Contact other town’s and city’s chambers of commerce and inquire with them. Do a simple internet search for “flea market anytown” (replace anytown with the name of the city or town you are trying to find out about). For instance, search “flea market fort myers” to find flea markets in Fort Myers, FL.

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Often times, if you sign up for an entire season you can get a discount. If you feel more comfortable, sign up for just one or two times to see how it goes, then when you want to commit, sign up for more time and receive the discounts. Not all flea markets are the same so you will find some that work out better for you than others. So, you heard about a great flea market or craft show in your town that you want to attend. What do you do next? The following steps apply for local shows as well as out of town shows. First, contact the host/promoter and request an application for a booth. Be sure you ask how much the booth will cost and what is provided with that fee. For some small, local shows, you won’t have to fill out an application, but for some of the bigger ones, you’ll not only have the application, but you’ll also have to provide a sample of your product for the hosts to assess in terms of sellability. Believe it or not, for some shows, HOW you fill out your application means just as much as what you are selling. Take note of the following suggestions for your flea market or craft show application:   Read all of the fine print before starting. Complete the application form in its entirety. For very popular shows, promoters use a simple rule to make the first cuts from possible vendors: any omitted information automatically disqualifies the application. Be sure to meet all deadlines. Some shows require applications more than a year in advance; other shows ask for applications only a few months in advance. Know what requirements the shows of your choice ask for. If at all possible, type up your applications. If this is not possible, be sure that the application is very clear and readable. If you need special arrangements, be sure to negotiate these up front. Do you need electricity or special lighting or special access? Do you prefer to have a particular location or table arrangement? Will your displays conform to the

 





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show’s expectations, requirements and limitations?  If you will be doing demonstrations, will all your equipment and tools meet show requirements or not? Do you need to be on a corner? Consider whether or not this is a juried craft show? A juried show is one that will have items judged in terms of their uniqueness and quality. Sometimes, juried shows will charge a fee of $5 to $50 for this service or requirement. Are there additional costs besides the booth rental, such as required advertising expenses, parking fees, electricity fees, tables and chairs, insurance requirements, and the like? This can be important in terms of budgeting. Find out if there are there any restrictions as to the type of merchandise allowed, such as a requirement that all merchandise be hand-crafted by the artist. Some flea market or craft shows provide promotional items to their exhibitors including brochures and/or postcards. This can be a HUGE benefit to you. A timetable is very important to know prior to showing up at the event site. Know what time you can begin setting up your booth, when you have to be ready and fully set up in your booth, and what time you can take down your booth If you must provide slides or pictures to the event promoter, be sure each one is clearly labeled and numbered. It should be obvious to anyone not familiar with you, your slides and your work, which way is up, so to speak













After you fill out your application, fair promoters may ask for a deposit on your booth. If you are approved, the deposit will be applied to your booth rental. If you are not approved, the deposit will be refunded. Generally, the remainder of the fee will be due upon your acceptance into the show. Include this deposit with your application. Deposits are usually accepted in the form of check or money order. DO NOT SEND CASH! Too many things can happen with cold, hard, green stuff. Have record of what you’ve paid and when you’ve paid it. You will need to think about where you will stay while at the show. Many flea market or craft shows are multiple day events. Even if they aren’t, they usually start
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early, so it’s a good idea to get to the location a day ahead of time to allow yourself the freedom to take your time getting set up. Call for hotels and secure the best rate you can. Many professional crafters have their own recreational vehicles that provide lodging as well as storage for your product and supplies. You will need to make sure you have enough inventory on hand for the show. We’ll cover this subject specifically in a separate chapter, but it’s important to have enough products to sell. Plan for your booth display and have all items ready for transport. It might help for you to draw out how you want your booth to look and then plan way ahead of time to make sure you have what it takes to make that vision become reality. Do a dress rehearsal if you have to. It might help to devise a checklist for you to refer to often when planning to attend a flea market or craft show. On your checklist, detail what needs to be accomplished and when it will need to be completed. Keep it at hand at all times. Pre-planning is a must to insure less stressful and more productive ventures! Once you get to the show, you’ll need to check in with the promoter and begin setting up your space. This is where we feel the need to tell you not only how to design your booth space, but how to be a good neighbor at the show as well.

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What About Credit Cards?
A lot of people ask me if they have to accept credit cards as a payment method in order to sell at flea markets. My answer is definitely “no”. As they say, cash is king. A personal check is ok, but there is a risk of problems with a check and following up with people is time consuming and a hassle. I would say that given a choice between a check and a credit card, I would take a credit card. So, although, it is not a must to accept credit cards, if you want to, here are the requirements. You will need basically four things that allow you to accept credit cards. The first is what’s called a merchant account. This is what you buy through any number of suppliers and it allows you to take a credit card, process the transaction, and get the money deposited in your bank account. Typically, all the transactions for a day are submitted at the end of the day and in a day or two, the money is transferred into your bank account. To find suppliers of merchant accounts, you can simply do an internet search on “merchant account suppliers” and go from there. Or you can contact your local bank and ask them. I suggest asking other flea market vendors and even some local retailers who they use and how they like their program. People are almost always willing to share their experiences and you can learn a tremendous amount just be talking with others. Merchant accounts typically don’t cost anything to set up, but there usually is a monthly minimum amount of activity that they require. If you don’t achieve that amount you pay some minimum amount like $20. So if you process enough transactions that accumulate say at least $20 in fees then you just pay the fees. Fees can range anywhere in the 1-4% of the transaction range. This is what you pay to the merchant account provider for processing the transactions. So this is an additional cost to you. Any merchant that takes a credit card as payment pays these fees. Your merchant account provider will also supply the equipment needed for you to “swipe” the customer’s card and transmit the transactions to them. This equipment is usually not free. Many different kinds of equipment exist and the cost varies greatly. As you can see, taking credit cards is a convenience for customers, but it is not free. In order to operate the card reader, you will need electricity at your booth and a phone line or internet line for transmitting the transactions. These will typically cost you something, depending on the individual flea markets. Some may not even offer this service. So without sounding too negative about accepting credit cards, you need to go into this with your eyes wide open.
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My recommendation is to start out with accepting cash or checks (and checks only when absolutely necessary). After you get a feel for how you will be doing business you can decide on whether or not to accept credit cards. One thought, the higher priced your products are the more likely your customers will want to use their credit cards. But again, start out slow and you can always add credit cards as a payment option later on.

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Tips For Doing Business at Flea Markets
Always be honest with everyone you deal with. Be friendly and nice and smile, nobody likes a grouch. Be generous with your time and products, remember what goes around comes around. Get to know your booth neighbors, they are like your neighbor at home or two doors down. Help them when you can. Get to know your customers, a happy customer is a returning customer. Always check with the flea market owner or manager for what you are allowed and not allowed to do or sell at their flea market. Be prepared for varying weather conditions, so bring a coat, sweater, umbrella, hat, extra pair of shoes, change of clothes. Make your signs and product displays easy to read and looking good. Keep important records like sales tax certificates, any permits, and any licenses in plastic inserts in a folder or three ringed binder. Follow all federal, state, and local laws. Carry $100 in extra cash in a safe place. This will be used to make change so have it broken down into mostly small bills and some coins. For food vendors, definitely have a “Tip Jar”. Always control your temper, no matter what the situation. Maintain a nice image, look, and appearance.

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Final Thoughts on Running a Flea Market Business
Be organized. People that start a business without good organization skills quickly find that they are struggling. They can also find that they are soon out of business. If you are organized in running your business, you make more money. This is a fact. If you are scattered and constantly running around, you will make less money. You will probably be asking yourself, why did you start this business in the first place? Practice good time management. Poor time management and the lack of organization is a definite business killer. Time management is the ability to use your time and efforts in a focused and productive manner. In a small business, poor management of time will prevent the business from reaching its full potential. Many demands are made on you because you are totally responsible for operating the business. The workday can be long, tiring and frustrating due to poor planning and people controlling your time and work. Time is wasted doing things that should be done in a few moments or not at all. All of us have the same amount of time; the challenge is using this resource effectively. What follows are suggestions on using your time more effectively so you will achieve optimum performance. • Avoid crises (no fire fighting) • Gain a feeling of accomplishment • Do the things that benefit you and your business • Enjoy your life. Do only things that matter. The best place to start managing time better is with yourself! Resolve to manage your time and not let time manage you. When you face the fact that you may be the cause of some of your time problems, you are ready to change your habits. Time management problems often stem from poor work habits; therefore, you need to analyze how you spend your time. It's a good idea to keep a log for several days, listing your activities and how much time you spend on them. After three or four days, look at these activities and ask yourself: What major activities or events cause me to use my time ineffectively? Which tasks can be performed only by me, and which activities can be delegated, better controlled or eliminated?

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Here is a list of twenty of the worst time wasters: • Telephone interruptions • Unplanned meetings • Unplanned visitors • Too much socializing • Lack of information • Excessive paperwork • Communication breakdown • Lack of policies and procedures • Lack of competent personnel • Red tape • Procrastination • Failure to delegate • Unclear objectives • Failure to set priorities • Crisis management • Failure to plan • Poor scheduling • Lack of self-discipline • Attempting to do too much at once • Lack of relevant skills Here are some ways to avoid these time wasters: setting goals, managing priorities, make a to-do list, schedule your time.

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By setting goals, you determine what you really want to accomplish. By managing priorities, you decide on the most important activities that will lead you to your goals. By making a to-do, you indicate what specific tasks will accomplish the items you have prioritized. And by scheduling your time, you make time for completing the tasks on your to-do list. Here are 10 good time management habits for you to implement: 1. Consolidate similar tasks and group similar jobs and do them concurrently. This eliminates a lot of sporadic behavior.

2. Break large projects into smaller and manageable tasks. Eat away at projects a task at a time.

3. Delegate and develop others and realize that delegation is not a dumping ceremony. Learn how to do things and then delegate them to trusted helpers. You will find you have more time for major tasks.

4. Learn to use idle time so when there seems to be down time, read a book, write a memo or plan what needs to be done in the business. Get control of the paper flow by handling each piece of paper only once. Declutter and throw out junk, and don't pick up a piece of paper unless you plan to use it.

5. Avoid the cluttered desk syndrome by keeping a clear desk. This helps you to think clearly, locate papers easier and keep your mind on the task at hand.

6. Get started immediately on important tasks, no matter how much you hate doing a task, do it. Remember, you must change old habits. Try rewarding yourself at the end of the day. This will motivate self-discipline.

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7. Reduce meeting time by asking yourself if a meeting is really necessary. Will a phone call or email do just as well? If a meeting is a must, try a standup one with an agenda; this will guarantee that the important issue is addressed.

8. Learn to say no. Take on only what’s absolutely necessary.

9. Your ability to manage time effectively could separate you from unsuccessful business people. Unless you manage your time, you will be unable to manage much else.

Finally, and in conclusion, stay positive and don’t get discouraged. Keep in mind that no matter what your question, chances are good that someone else has already asked it and gotten an answer to it. Anything can be figured out and for every mistake you make, it’s one less that you will make in the future. This is a fun business to be in. Enjoy the process of learning how to start and run a flea market business. And just think, a year from now, you will feel like a pro and look back and chuckle at some of the struggles you had along the way. Remember that you won’t do everything right, but what you get wrong will be the best teacher of all. Smile and enjoy the ride. Your success will be determined by the actions that you take and the decisions that you make. I encourage you to take action and be decisive. I wish you all the best and thank you for taking time to read this book. Sincerely,

Ron Mackowski Your Small Business Coach

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