Deciding that you want to try and sell a product at a market is a very exciting time, but it can be overwhelming.
I remember when I first took the plunge into market work – I was eager to get started, as well as incredibly nervous.
I was completely unsure about how to get set up, what to do, and what type of product I wanted to sell.
If you’re in a similar boat, then you’re in the right place.
As someone with years of experience working in markets, I’ll be sharing my tips and tricks to help you choose the best product to sell at a market.
In this article...
What Products Usually Sell Well At Markets?
If you’ve ever been to a market, you’ll know that there is a huge variety of products, some of which can be quite bizarre.
I once came across a maker selling handmade hammocks specifically for small animals, which was definitely something I didn’t expect to see at a market!
While there are niche products that can attract particular audiences, there are items that are much more likely to appeal to a wider demographic.
If you’re struggling to choose a product, then you might want to consider selecting one that generally sells well.
From personal experience, food/drink (like baked goods, candy, and craft beer), jewellery, handmade crafts, vintage furniture, fashion, and decorative figurines tend to gain a lot of attraction at markets.
Take a look around your local market and see what stalls bring in the biggest crowds and queues.
See if there are any products you could improve or take to the next level.
If a vendor’s well-known for their delicious homemade bread, then maybe you could aspire to make yours even better … You never know, you just might be the talk of the market and have people queuing up for hours just to get a taste of your food!
What Is the Best Way to Sell At a Flea Market?
Pricing your product correctly is an important factor you’ll need to consider when selling at a market. If you price your product too high, it could be off putting to some customers, especially if there’s no justification for the cost.
On the flip side, if you price your product too low, buyers might assume your stock is made from low-quality or inferior materials.
Besides, you want to gain fair compensation for the amount of work you put into a product.
I’d recommend taking a brief look at competitor’s prices to see what they’re charging.
This will help you figure out what customers are willing to pay for a particular product.
Remember: you don’t need to undercut your competitors.
Charge suitably for the work, effort, and material costs that went into your product. If your product has more features or offers something a little different, then don’t be afraid to charge more for it.
Additionally, if you’re thinking of using an online marketplace, you’ll need to decide whether your product prices will stay the same or be reduced/increased.
Online Selling Pricing
Online vendors often charge a bit more for their products than at markets to make up for drop selling and shipping fees.
One of the best features of selling at flea markets is that they cut out this middle part and potentially increase your profits.
Focus Low Cost Products
If you don’t have a lot of startup money for your market business, it’s a good idea to choose products that are relatively cheap to make or purchase but still profitable including; jewelry, kids’ toys, TV accessories, video games, women’s’ fashion, pet care supplies, phone accessories, and books.
One thing I really recommend for helping you secure sales at a flea market is deals.
Offering discounts or bundles like “buy one get one free”, “two for the price of one”, etc., can increase your sales and push products that might be in excess.
It also makes the buyer think they’re getting a bargain, and customers always like a freebie – don’t we all?
Choosing a Product
Branding is important when choosing a product to sell at a market.
You’ll want to create a brand for your business so you can set yourself apart from your competitors.
It helps customers identify your products from other makers and businesses.
Choose a brand or theme that fits well with the product you want to sell.
For example, if you want to sell baked goods, then make sure your branding fits around cakes and bakery items.
Try not to go too far outside your branding as this could confuse consumers.
Don’t Confuse Potential Customers
I once went to a food stall at a market that, alongside tasty hot food items that you’d expect to see, was also selling socks.
Yes, you read that correctly – socks!
Although they were covered in branding and were pretty cute, it was odd – the experience, not the socks.
They weren’t what I wanted or expected to see when I popped by for a hot dog. I joked to another customer in the queue about the scenario who also agreed it was bizarre.
The moral of the story here is if you’re known for selling a particular product, only market that item and don’t overcomplicate things.
Go with What You Know
If you’re already good at something or have experience in a particular craft, then why not try to make a living out of it?
Going with what you know can make things a little easier as you won’t need to learn a new skill.
Develop Your Interests
If you have a knack for painting or drawing, then you could sell your own artwork.
You could sell your art as is or even put the designs on t-shirts, mugs, phone cases, etc.
Alternatively, if you remember enjoying textiles class in school, you could try your hand at making your own clothes – With a bit of practice you could end up being the next big name fashion designer!
Part of the Process
But don’t worry, even if you don’t have experience in a particular craft or hobby, then you can always learn along the way.
Many makers are self-taught and developed their skills over time (myself included!).
Look at tutorial videos online or even consider applying for a course on the craft you want to learn more about.
Appeal to Enthusiastic Hobbyists/Niche
Each market is different from another, including the preferences of customers.
Try to figure out the niche of a market and play to it.
For example, if a city a market is located in is known for its music scene, then a stall that sells music memorabilia and records might just be what customers are looking for. Additionally, products that fit into that theme might also gain attraction, such as food items with music-related names, or craft beer named after popular bands.
Study Your Market
I once visited a bike show that raises money for local charities.
Now, at first glance, the event sounds like a heavy metal concert that only serves alcohol.
However, the show is actually for local businesses to set their stalls up to sell food, drink, trinkets, etc.
The best part of the event is that vendors name their produce after things related to the biking heavy metal crowd, which always garners a lot of talk.
I saw Iron Maiden themed beer, heavy metal music merch, and there was even Meatloaf meatloaf. The latter had the biggest queue I’ve ever seen at a market!
Sell a Product That Means Something to You
If there’s a product you love or has a special meaning to you, then it’s worth pursuing further.
Not only will you enjoy creating or selling it, but it will also help fuel your motivation when the going gets tough.
Whether you want to create pet accessories because you love animals or create clothing because you adore all things fashion, selecting something that already appeals to you is sure to appeal to potential buyers.
Create Your Own Demand
You might have an interesting idea or design that hasn’t been seen before.
If you’ve been on the hunt for a unique necklace and no store or maker seems to have what you’re looking for, then why not try to create it yourself?
No Harm in Trying
There could be other people just waiting for the very necklace you want to make!
I remember looking for a pair of blue feather earrings which would go great with a formal dress for a friend’s wedding, but I couldn’t find any online or at stores that fit the description. Instead of shrugging off my idea, I decided to make my own.
I got a lot of compliments on my handiwork on the day of the wedding, and it even inspired me to create more earrings and jewellery.
Since then, I rarely purchase store-bought earrings and much prefer to design my own!
Follow the Trend
Although it’s important to pick a product that you’ll enjoy selling, that doesn’t mean you can’t follow a trend.
If you’ve noticed a particular item that has risen in popularity, then it might be worth selling before the hype fades.
This extends to holiday or seasonal related products, too.
Go With The Season
There might be a way to market your product so it ties into a specific festivity.
For example, if you’re selling baked goods and Halloween is just around the corner, then why not add a spooky touch to your food?
You could make pumpkin spice flavored donuts or add orange and green colors to your normal bakery items.
If Christmas is approaching, then try and give your product a festive makeover.
Keep an Eye Out
Each industry will have different trends, so take the time to see what’s popular in your specific sector.
For example, I remember a few years ago when slow feeding dog bowls were all the rage, so a lot of pet businesses were selling them.
That trend was specific to the pet related businesses.
If you’re selling clothes, baked goods, jewellery, etc., there will be specific trends that you’ll need to keep an eye out for so you can get on the bandwagon!
Try Checking Online
You can check authoritative sources online to see what’s currently popular or if there are any predictions on what might be on-trend next.
If you’re in the apparel business, watch fashion shows for each season to see what will be the next big thing.
This will keep you on top of trends and only sell products when they’re at peak popularity.
Making Products In Advance
Another thing to keep in mind is production time.
A lot of vendors make their products well in advance as the production stage can take a while.
Many companies make their stock at least a year in advance for this reason.
A large number of businesses set their trends a good few months prior, so this is something to keep in mind when selling your own products.
How Much Space/Time and Motivation Do You Have to Dedicate to Learning and Perfecting a Craft?
Starting your own business and becoming a maker takes a hefty amount of work and dedication.
If you’re starting from scratch and haven’t already perfected a craft, then you’ll need the time and the incentive to learn a new craft.
You have to be driven by self-motivation and determination, as well as a lot of self-discipline.
It Takes Time
Perfecting a skill isn’t something that happens overnight.
It can take weeks, months, or even years before you become an experienced maker.
That period can be frustrating, but you need to stick at it and keep pushing on.
Perseverance is key.
Additionally, there are other things you need to consider when becoming a maker which don’t involve creating.
You’ll be your own boss, which has its perks – you can set your own workdays, organize when you start and finish work, take as many breaks as you need, and even work in your PJs!
However, you’ll be solely responsible for sorting out paperwork, promotion, pricing, creating, and other tasks associated with running your own business.
While these tasks aren’t as interesting or as exciting as actually making your own products, they’re important nonetheless.
Think carefully about whether you have the time and energy to do these duties on a regular basis.
A business won’t succeed without them!
Develop On Your Spare Time
A lot of makers start part-time and work a second job until their business grows.
If you want to start part-time, then make sure you have enough spare time to create and develop your skills.
An advantage of immediately starting full-time is being able to fully dedicate yourself to your business, but the road can be a little bumpy along the way until you gain reputation.
Starting Full Time
Going full-time does require a lot of planning and thought – you’ll need to make sure you have the funds to support yourself and your business until things take off.
Personally, I worked a second job for around a year when I first became a maker as it gave me a safety net just in case things didn’t work out.
Once I started getting good reviews and a name for myself, I slowly transitioned to full-time.
Space is another factor that needs to be taken into account.
Do you have the space to create the product you want to make?
If you want to repurpose or make your own furniture, then you’ll need quite a bit of room to work in and store your stock.
Think about whether your accommodation gives you enough space to work in and create your craft. If it doesn’t, can you work elsewhere or rent a studio or office?
If you can’t, then you might need to reconsider your craft or select one that doesn’t require as much room to make.
Final Thoughts – What Does It Come Down To?
Selling a product at a market isn’t easy as there are so many factors you need to consider.
When I first started my own business and got into flea markets,
Learning Along the Way
I was pretty confused and overwhelmed with the amount of information I needed to learn.
However, once I got to grip with things and gradually became more experienced, it got a lot easier.
I’ve really enjoyed my time and adventures at markets, both as a seller and a buyer.
Don’t be Afraid to Give it a Try
If you’re thinking of selling at a market, then I fully recommend giving it a go.
As long as you have the motivation, passion, and self-discipline, it’s a venture that’s well worth experiencing.
Besides, your product might just be the new talk of the town
What tips or tricks would you suggest for selling a product at markets? Share your thoughts and stories with me on social media – I can’t wait to hear what you have to say!