Abby Slutsky occasionally sells her products at outdoor events and farmer's markets.
Flea Market Checklist
Many people are interested in a side hustle that generates additional income. Although using your computer can help you make money, another popular way to make money is to sell items at festivals, bazaars, and flea markets. This can be lucrative for those who have a hobby they want to monetize or for people who want to resell items that they buy from others.
If you are just beginning to sell products at a festival or flea market, it is essential to arrive with everything you need to make you successful and well organized. This article includes a master list of all of the basics you might need to get started as a vendor at a farmer's market, flea market, or outdoor event. The items listed here are divided into three separate categories for your convenience:
- General Setup Items
- Promotional and Sales Items
- Catch-All and Emergency Items
General Setup Items
This section covers practical items you'll likely need in order to effectively set up your vending booth.
A cart can help you transport all your setup, marketing materials, and emergency items to your booth. I have the Collapsible Outdoor Utility Wagon Cart, which conveniently folds, so it does not take up a lot of trunk space. It is durable and has wheels that move smoothly over most surfaces.
Foldable tables are a must for most items unless you are selling clothing. Choose one that has a handle, so it is convenient to transport. Many clothing vendors use racks, but they usually have a table for accepting money. Keep in mind that most organizations sell a 10 x 10 space to vendors, so choose your table size accordingly.
A pop-up tent is ideal for any vendors who intend to sell their items in an outdoor venue. They are easy to erect and compact. The beauty of having a tent is that it protects you and your merchandise from rainy weather or heat. Inclimate weather can damage your products or make it uncomfortable to vend them for long periods of time, so a tent is well worth the money.
Tent weights will help make your pop-up tent stable and prevent movement on windy days. I have the Quick Shade Canopy Weights, which easily slide around each foot of my tent. They are convenient and simple to use.
Make your table as inviting as possible. You want your visitors to want to buy your products. An uncovered table looks stark, and if you are at an event that provides your table, you will not know the condition of the table until you arrive.
Display Racks or Containers
Depending on your product, you may want racks, a hutch, or containers to showcase your product. Consider arranging your product in pretty lined bins if it is food. Clear containers will make the product easy to see. Arrive at your event early so you have time to play around with your display and make it attractive. Try elevating some containers to create more visual appeal.
Collapsible or Foldable Chairs
You do not want to stand the entire day, so make sure you provide yourself with a place to sit.
Promotional and Sales Items
Before listing items that help promote your sales, I also recommend bringing a cash box with enough small bills to make change. This will make you more organized for completing transactions; however, it does not actually directly promote sales. Nevertheless, if you are not organized, you can lose customers who might not want to wait in line.
If you are busy, you will not want to constantly tell customers your prices. Instead, place them on the table. You can put small cards near individual items or groups of items of the same type, or you can create a master price list.
Type up a price list and put it in an inexpensive picture frame, or buy a tabletop chalkboard that stands upright on your table. The advantage of a chalkboard is that you can change your pricing by erasing or adding new items without re-creating the entire price list.
Blami Chalk Markers will write nicely on any chalkboard you choose. Be aware that when they are used for the first time, you must shake them well and apply pressure to the tips for a few minutes before the chalk starts coming out. They come in multiple colors, so you can add pictures or a marketing message to your price list.
If you are vending at an event that is in the evening, lights are essential to selling your product. No one is going to purchase items that they cannot see. Although there are many types that you can buy, I frequently use LED Cordless Night Lights. They come in a pack of four, and I usually bring eight to put around my tent. I can place them around the table or adhere them to the tent easily.
I find them bright, portable, and easy to transport because I do not have to worry about tangled wires. I like that I do not have to string them. However, if you expect to do a lot of evening outdoor shows, you may want to choose an option that provides more diffused light.
Banners and Signage
Although not everyone uses a banner, they are an inexpensive way to help potential customers find you at a festival or flea market. Additionally, a properly worded banner can give you a chance to alert customers to other services you offer. For example, I sell baked goods, but my banner lets potential clients know I do hostess and corporate trays and holiday gifts.
Be aware that whether you choose a banner or large, poster-size signage, it is important to make sure that the base is sturdy, secure, and can withstand wind. I have seen many vendors arrive at shows with poster-board-size signage or displays that do not stay upright. Make sure you ask whether the base will securely remain upright before making a purchase.
Brochures or Business Cards
Even if potential customers do not buy from you immediately, you may want your contact information available. Do not forget appropriate business card or brochure holders.
Consider personalizing your bags for an event with your company name and phone number. Purchasers will be carrying your bags and helping advertise to other potential customers. I have actually had customers approach my booth because they saw that so many people had purchased my products.
Catch-All and Emergency Items
These items may not always be necessary, but they are all good things to have on hand when selling anything in a flea market or festival-type setting. It's better to be prepared with something you may not need than to realize you need something you don't have.
Plastic Trash Bags
These are not just useful for trash. If you have to put items on the ground, and it is damp, the trashbags can protect your items.
Tape can help secure items on a windy day. In some instances, it can be useful if packaging gets damaged in transport.
Whether you need to cut tape, trim a label, or for another purpose, it is always convenient to have scissors available.
Extra Boxes, Packaging, and Labels
You may not need these items, but in the rare event packaging becomes damaged, it can affect your ability to sell the item. Keeping a little spare packaging in your vehicle is not a bad idea.
Notebook and Pen
I usually make a list of my products and check them off as I sell each one. When I get home, I put it in a file, so I can compare it to previous years. This helps me decide the products to bring to each show.
Keep a large towel in your car when you go to an event. You never know if you will need it if it starts to rain. A towel makes it convenient to wipe off items that may fall on the ground or dry items off if they get wet.
As you attend more shows, you may find that your list of items grows. Consider keeping an ongoing master list of what you bring to shows and vending events; this will ensure that you do not forget anything when you are packing up.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Abby Slutsky
Abby Slutsky (author) from America on April 27, 2021:
Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.
Sp Greaney from Ireland on April 27, 2021:
This is such a smart check list for anyone planning to have a stand at one of these markets.
I've been at christmas markets where they don't have bags and they don't have a price list or prices listed on a sheet. It's very annoying.