Friday, October 24, 2014

Flea Market Etiquette

I have mentioned a couple of times that I like to go to the flea market to get rid of stuff that I no longer want or need.
I am not very good at selling, because I am usually really embarrassed to tell somebody the price.  I am getting better at it so, in this case, practice makes perfect.

The key to getting the most out of your flea market sales is to plan; trust me when I say I have learned this through experience.  I had about 5 guys push me into the trunk of my van, trying to get to the stuff I still had in there and hadn't yet unpacked.  Some people are real assholes.

So, these are my suggestions for a successful trip to the flea market:

1)  Sort your stuff.  Make sure that what goes together, stays together, like pairs of shoes or all the cables for the electronics you are selling. If you have manuals for the item, take them with you and if you have the original box, even better.  If you are selling a cellphone, make sure it is charged so people can see it works; most people don't want to take your word for it.

2)  Figure out what you want for most of the stuff but aim higher, because you will haggle with people. That is half the fun, except for me, it makes me sweat but I am awkward.
My friend gets on Ebay and checks what most items are selling for there and then figures out her price. Don't do this for something like a t-shirt, but if you are selling a coffee maker or a computer, it is helpful to check on what other people want for their stuff.  Make sure to write it down; if you don't, you will forget or get confused when the flea market mafia descends on your ass.

3)  Make sure that everything you are selling is clean.  Wash everything, even clothes, especially if they are dirty or have a stain. Nobody wants to pay 5 Euros for something if it looks like you took it off your body then just folded it.  Stains, holes or anything ripped, ragged, stretched-out needs to be thrown out if you don't wear it anymore because it's gross and other people don't want it either. Make sure you take wet wipes with you so you can wipe down dusty items.

4)  Have enough change, especially if you are selling small items that don't cost more than a couple of cents --  you want to be able to make change.  I usually have about 10 Euros worth of change, ranging from 50 cents to 2 Euro pieces.

5)  It is a nice gesture when you have bags to give away to those who buy more than one piece. They might buy more if they have a bag to carry their stuff.

6)  If you are selling clothes then fold and arrange the pieces by size; that definitely makes it easier for you.  If you do this, you can tell people what you have rather than have them dig through everything and you have to fold it again. You'll fold all day anyways because, as the pile dwindles, it still should look neat. I like to hang everything up as much as I can, so you should take some hangers with you.  Also, hang up something eye catching in the front that will attract your customers' attention.

7)  You would be amazed what people will buy, so take everything with you that you don't want anymore.  Some of the things that definitely sell are electronics, such as cellphones, nintendo, x-box, games, cameras.  CDs and DVDs go pretty well, but you won't make much off of them. Books don't sell and they are heavy so if possible, donate them; you will be better off.  Perfume sells, even if it is only half the bottle. If a bottle of Chanel costs 60 Euros a bottle and you only have half left over, you can still sell it. People will buy it, trust me.  Shoes sell.  I don't know why, because I would not buy them, but they do sell.
Clothes are a big seller, but you do have to go by the seasons. You won't sell a winter coat in the summer and you won't sell a summer dress in the winter; people don't think that far ahead.

8)  Take a chair or a little stool because customers will storm you one moment and cause you to run around like a crazy person. Then, nobody stops by for 20 minutes. If you can sit, you can take a breather and take time to eat.
I like to have a table cloth on my table, too, because it looks nicer and I can hide my trash or my bags underneath it.  I have a really long piece of fabric that I lay on top; I paid 5 Euros a meter for it and it is about 4 meters long and it has been everywhere with me. 
 This was my first flea market so you can see here that this is not the way to do it.

9)  Picking the flea market location is important because the clientèle is not the same everywhere; you will get pissed if you have to haggle with someone over 20 cents.  If you're selling in a decent neighborhood, you will get normal people who won't expect to get everything for free.

10)  Get there early, and by early, I mean when it is still dark outside. I usually try to be there by 6am, but we have been earlier because it is difficult to maneuver your car through all the throngs of people to get to your spot and set up your stand. There are the hardcore buyers who come to your table with a flashlight and start going through your shit before you even have your area set up.

When I go to the flea market I pack my car the night before so the next morning I only have to get dressed and leave. I always have snacks and drinks with me, since I am there from 6am till about 2pm; that is a long day, considering I get up around 5am. I also don't do this alone; I always go with friends and we make an event of it and just hang out and move back and forth between stands, eating and drinking.

Before I go I also ask family members or friends if they want to get rid of stuff; I take their stuff with me to sell -- this way I also have a variety of different stuff.
As far as the money goes, I usually make between 150 -250 Euros so it is worth it for a couple hours.

So check it out and sell your crap. 

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