By IvyLee Rosario
The flea market industry provides vendors with the freedom of selling their own products at any location, all while having the stability of a market that will accommodate their selling needs. Over the last few years, more and more vendors have grown their flea market operations exponentially, and although there may have been some rough patches along the way, the flea market business is booming now more than ever. As we have for many years, the Merchandiser Group once again presents our Industry Outlook. Here we discuss business with some of the major US market managers, as well as offer vendor input on merchandise trends and their needs as businesspeople. Market managers will explain what they offer to their dealers, how they promote and grow shopper traffic, the major new directions in the market, and the challenges that they have faced and overcome while working in this industry.
According to the 2015 Flea Market Report, 34% of owners said that they have between 1,000 and 5,000 shoppers visit their flea market everyday. Compared to the previous year, the average traffic increased 5 to 7 percent. In order to continue attracting customers, both owners and vendors need to make sure they make themselves known and offer something new to their visitors. “We have a multi layer marketing campaign – television, radio, social media – so that is one way to reach out to the community and make ourselves known,” said Rob Sieben, CEO of Mile High Flea Market. “We also try and have entertainment at the market so more people will want to come.” In order to create a following at the market, social media is key for not only getting your name out there but also communicating with customers and potential visitors. Whether you choose to go strictly online or you decide the old fashioned way of going around town works best for you, promoting your market is the most important step to ensuring you maintain a growing customer base.
Here are the top 5 most popular ways to promote a market according to the 2015 survey results:
• Newspaper and Internet Advertising: 78%
• Social Media Posts: 73%
• Radio Advertising: 56%
• Flyers: 52%
• Email: 43%
In addition to advertising in different forms of media, try developing new ideas at your market that will bring in the crowd. Promotions like coupons, kids get in free, holidays and special events will work wonders on the crowd and keep customers coming back. “We do different promos which include free space coupons on Outdoor Grand Opening, on Mother’s Day Mom’s get in free, same with Father’s Day,” said Scott Niles, CEO of 7 Mile Fair. “We also do free pumpkins on Halloween, a vendor booth decorating contest and free admission on Saturdays from 9am to Noon.” Planning unique events will make sure those customers remember your flea market and tell everyone they know about the market as well.
Although attracting customers to the flea market is one of the most important things, we cannot forget that without vendors there would be no markets. In order to find quality vendors, market owners need to offer services that will make it easier to sell merchandise and will create a positive environment for these merchants. “We offer a variety of marketing opportunities for our dealers,” said Linda Steele, Manager of Fleamasters Flea Market. “We have an in house publication that includes a free directory listing for each vendor, we offer ad space in that and the listing is also up on our website.” Other services to offer at the market that will be sure to entice prospective sellers are free Wi-Fi, extended set up hours, cross promotion on the flea market’s social media pages and signage. “Onsite signage outdoors, advertising on newsletters or flyers, and even some vendor-sponsored events are just some of the services we offer,” said Ben Campen, President of Smiley’s Flea Markets. “We are now also trying to educate them on getting their own social media pages as well.”
Of the vendors surveyed, these are the top 5 features merchants look for in a flea market when deciding where to sell their products:
• Good customer traffic: 96%
• Low cost space rental: 45%
• Convenient location: 44%
• Market advertises to attract customers: 43%
• Cleanliness: 34%
Whether you are a vendor or a market owner, it is important to keep track of what is trending in the industry and what changes have been taking place over the last year or two. With tendencies constantly changing, the market needs to be kept up to date and provide merchants and customers with what they need in order to have a successful experience. One of the biggest changes taking place in the industry is the use of technology. Now more than ever, both vendors and customers are utilizing online services, from social media to payment options. “Technology has definitely changed the business. Lots of dealers and customers are using social media, especially Twitter. This gives them a chance to talk about the market and to talk to customers as well,” said Tim Anderson, President of Traders Village. “More sellers are also using technology to accept credit cards versus cash. This has been a major trend change over the last couple years.” With a device as small as a smartphone and its ability to service so many needs, it is no wonder why people are taking advantage of its use. In addition to technology movements amongst merchants, owners and vendors should also be paying attention to the types of products that are trending and selling well. “Our shoppers are looking for more vintage items and antiques,” said Steele. The 2015 Flea Market Report supports that claim, with 66% of vendors offering at least some used or vintage merchandise. While some shoppers go to flea markets to rummage for older items, many are looking for repurposed merchandise and closeouts, said Sieben, and the always-popular electronics and apparel.
The 2015 Flea Market Report found that these five are the most sought after pieces of merchandise at flea markets:
• Jewelry: 44%
• Gifts and Novelties: 39%
• Apparel: 35%
• Collectables: 33%
• Fashion Accessories and Toys: 27%
The rewards that come with being in the flea market industry are ever changing, but that does not mean you will not encounter a few bumps along the way. From weather and competition to location and cost, both owners and vendors are sure to run into a few obstacles before creating a steady business for themselves within a market. “One of the biggest challenges I see within the next few years will be trying to find vendors that carry different or unique products that can be sold at the fair, not just more of the same product we already have,” said Niles. “We also find it hard to keep arts and crafts vendors at the fair. This has been a struggle for a number of years.”
While some are dealing with the type of vendors they need, others are just concerned that Mother Nature will get in the way of business. “Our shoppers are in a better place economically than they were years ago,” said Anderson, “but the weather in Texas has been unfavorable so hopefully we can shake out of it and have a good season ahead of us.” Although these seem like everyday issues for the business, some owners are concerned with political matters that might affect the future. Campen says government regulations are a big concern for the industry because they operate a place that is easy for anyone to sell products, and in turn puts a negative light on flea markets. “These are our markets. They are vital to the economy and vital to the livelihood of these families. These government regulations can hurt our efforts and there are some bigger players out there that are looking to put obstacles in our way to prevent us from success in this industry.”
Out of all the market owners surveyed, 33% have been in the industry for 1-5 years, up 10% than the previous year, implying that there are new markets. An impressive 26% have been in operation for over 30 years, showing that in addition to new markets being created, most owners do not plan on quitting the business anytime soon. Whatever the hurdles may be, these owners and vendors are confident that the flea market industry will continue to flourish and attract even more participants.
22720 West 7 Mile Road, Caledonia, WI 53108
Fleamasters Flea Market
4135 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Ft. Myers, FL 33916
Mile High Flea Market
7007 East 88th Avenue, Henderson, CO 80640
Smiley‘s Flea Markets
2160 Park Street, Jacksonville, FL 32204
Traders Village Flea Markets
2602 Mayfield Road, Grand Prairie, TX 75052
Phone : 972-647-2331