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Owning and Operating Your Own Flea Market Business

written by: Calvin Merrick•edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 2/7/2011

This article focuses on how to open and operate a flea market business. This is a great low-entry cost opportunity. I will first detail the basic steps required to launch and operate a successful flea market business. Additionally, I will include tips and resources that will help you get started.

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    This article will provide you with information on how to open and operate a flea market business. This is a low-entry cost opportunity and can be implemented very quickly. For about $100 you can buy resale stock and cover your space or booth rental fees. If you create your own merchandise, you can get started for even less.

    Your first order of business is to visit one or more flea markets in and near your local area. As you inspect the various set-ups, take notes and ask questions. Observe and study the reactions of buyers as they browse and haggle over prices. Need help finding local markets? Visit the National Flea Market Association's "Flea Finder" web page and do a search on your city, town, or state.

    Now, let's take a look at what you will need to do to get your flea market business up and running.

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    Image credit: WikiMedia
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    Licensing Requirements

    If you want to do a trial run, you can get started legally without licensing. You will pay a little more for resale stock and you won't be able to take advantage of any tax benefits but it's a fast, low-cost way to confirm that you are cut out for this type business.

    If your trial run proves successful, get your business license and resale certificate. For licensing, contact your county hall or city hall clerk. Resale certificates are generally through the State Treasury department.

    For more information on this topic, do some searches on "business license" +YOUR_CITY and "resale certificate" or "reseller license" +YOUR_CITY. This tip applies to North American, European, and Asian residents.

    Proper licensing allows you to claim a percentage of your mortgage or rent payments and home utility expenses as a cost of doing business. You will need to do some research in order to learn exactly what is allowed in your local area.

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    Flea Market Location

    While indoor flea markets may seem more appealing at first glance, there is some downside. Space rental is generally more expensive and often requires a long-term (three to six months) rental commitment.

    Outdoor (open air) flea markets, on the other hand, will require less start-up capital. Also, in my opinion, outdoor shoppers are more robust than they are when attending indoor venues. Outdoor shopping just seems to be a more unique and adventurous experience.

    You should also know that some flea markets do better than others. If you have access to more than one flea market, try them all to see which ones yield the most profits. Try to keep your research fairly accurate by offering the same type merchandise at each flea market venue.

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    Sourcing Wholesale Flea Market Items

    After doing your initial flea market visits, you should have some idea of what products and items are selling. The next step is finding some good sources for the type merchandise you decide to sell. Use the search engines to find wholesale sources. The following terms will yield thousands of results: "wholesale flea market" and "closeouts."

    If you will be creating hand-crafted or home-grown items, you will need tool and supply sources. If for instance, you will be selling custom designed jewelry, do some research and find the best quality components at the best price.

    High quality merchandise keeps customers coming back and gets referrals. Low wholesale prices help keep your profit margins up.

    Read "Best Selling Flea Market Items" and learn about 10 of the best selling flea market products. Plus, you will get even more specific merchandise sourcing information.

    Think you're ready to open and operate a flea market business? If so, then follow the guidelines in this article and get started. You can even start by selling unwanted items from your garage, attic, or basement. No excuses. Take action.

    Image credit: Wikimedia Commons, (San Jose flea market), LFL16