We have tried out the local flea markets to get our craft products out in the public and increase our customer base. Flea Markets are an inexpensive way to perfect your showcasing skills. You want to present your project in a pleasing way and with selling anything you want your customers to stop and browse. If nothing else you want them to take a business card with them so that they will visit your online store or physical location (If you have one). Before considering one of your local flea markets you want to visit it during regular visiting hours as a potential customer to get a feel for some of the merchandise that is being offered. You will also want to go to the office during non-selling hours to talk to the manager to get a listing of prices and rules for vendors. Most, not all, flea markets will post the vendor rules on their website and some even a price listing. You can expect to pay anywhere from $10 to $30 a day for a designated area of about 10 x 10 and most offer one or two tables. Hopefully, when making your reservation the office person will take into consideration what you are selling and put you in an area spaced far enough away from vendors selling similar products. Granted, most items being offered are second-hand goods or bought wholesale from eBay. Unless you are going to be a regular vendor most flea markets are not required to have a copy of business license or peddlers license (depends on the rules in your county) on-file and collecting sales tax is entirely your responsibility.
When you go to the flea market there are several things you might want to consider: Is the Flea Market Clean? Are the lanes wide-spaced allowing for free flow of traffic? Are the booths covered or do you need to bring something to cover your area? Is wireless internet available for FREE? Is the Flea Market all open or is it in a climate-controlled building? You will need to take all these things into consideration when you pack your crafts as well as bringing chairs to sit in, tablecloths for the tables, bags for your customers, and, of course, decorations to make your area special and that shows your merchandise off to good advantage. Some spaces will need more lighting and you might even have to bring your own shelving. Just remember whatever you bring you will have to set-up and take down again when you leave for the day. There are some flea markets that offer garage type booths with a lockable door so you can set-up once and take down after the weekend. These do tend to be a bit more expensive and some are even limited to their monthly vendors. You will also need to bring with you: snacks, drinks, trash bags, reading material or a craft project that you can work on as well as some change ($1s, $5s and a couple of $10s) for your customers. It is assumed at most flea markets that all vendors only accept cash. Unless you have a wireless internet account for credit card processing you cannot depend on the Flea Market Wireless service, even if it is available for processing secure credit card transactions. If you can take credit cards wirelessly from a laptop or smartphone then make sure you have a sign posted in plain view to tell your customers you have that ability. Potential customers want your prices clearly displayed. Most are looking for bargains but some are looking for the unusual as well as quality crafted merchandise.
Going to Craft Shows is an expensive proposition and most need a $100 to $300 fee for your 10 x 10 space and you have to bring your own tables, give a photo of your merchandise and fill out an application. Most will need a copy of your peddlers or business license for that county and almost all of them will need a copy of your sales tax permit (Again, depending on the rules of your state). You should be able to get an online form from your State’s Sales Tax Department. Then you just file your sales tax payments online once a quarter. We have not gotten to that point yet because we are still perfecting our technique of setting-up and showcasing our crafts. These are best planned for months in advance because of the cost and the application process that is required. Remember there is no guarantee of selling your merchandise ever so you will need to take your finances into consideration when choosing which way you want to go. A local Flea Market or two is a great place to start.
Regardless of which option you decide to pursue DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED if you don’t make many sales. You are mainly introducing your merchandise to POTENTIAL new customers so have your business cards ready. You can even create a pamphlet on your computer of your merchandise samples, giving your web address and contact information, with photos of your work and telling them of your services. Be specific with your information and the things you will and will not do. If you do not want to do special orders then say so. Print them out on your printer or take them down to your local copy center. AND GIVE THEM AWAY TO EVERYONE!
Good luck with your crafting projects and keep checking back as we will be trying to post every month, if not more.