Quakertown Farmers Market and Flea Market in Bucks County, PA, is a landmark and shopping tradition celebrating more than 80 years in business. John Chism is general manager of the market. He is also a National Flea Market Association (NFMA) past president, board member and co-chairman of the association’s legislative committee. FleaMarketZone.com asked Chism to discuss the strategies his market employs to ensure its continued success.
Editor: You have been general manager of Quakertown Flea Market for 18 years, and the market has been operating since 1932. To what do you attribute its long-term success?
Chism: One major factor is that we reinvest in our market and we are very conscious of the modern amenities that our market needs to have. We constantly improve the market to ensure that the shopping experience is convenient with things like up to date rest rooms, lighting, automatic doors and shopping carts. Another major factor is the variety we have. We literally offer one stop shopping, and we do that by choice not by accident. We balance our selection of vendors in the categories we have so that we do not have too many in one and not enough in another.
Editor: How important is advertising?
Chism: It is very important and we do quite a bit of advertising in television, radio, print and billboards.
Editor: Is social media important to your market?
Chism: Absolutely. We have one full time person devoted exclusively to monitoring and responding to social media. We are very active on Facebook and we have about 8,000 fans and that is growing. We feature each of our merchants, and we rotate them with photo albums. We also started doing video on YouTube. In addition, we are redoing our website to make it more interactive and user friendly. We are rolling that out in November. Our Facebook page and YouTube will be linked with our website.
Editor: What are your market’s biggest challenges?
Chism: Right now, one of our biggest challenges, probably like everybody else, is the cost of doing business. This economy has been in recession so long that people have not been able to be in business for themselves for a long time where they have the capital or can borrow money to buy merchandise. We are trying to keep expenses down so we don’t have to raise rents. Another big challenge is finding new permanent merchants.
Editor: How do you find new merchants?
Chism: We advertise in the Merchandiser Group magazines and other trade publications. We do other innovative things but I’m not going to give away all our trade secrets.
Editor: How about product trends. What are you seeing along those lines?
Chism: People are interested in a bargain, no matter what the category. They are looking for value and that is what we try to present with our merchants. We have to compete on service, price and value. We regularly communicate with our vendors through email and newsletters to share ideas for merchandising and improving their sales. The bottom line is, if they do well, we do well.
Quakertown Farmers Market and Flea Market does not charge admission, and hosts from 20,000 to 30,000 shoppers each weekend. It has around 450 outdoor and 100 indoor vendors, and 110 indoor farmers’ market merchants. Both the indoor and outdoor areas are open year round, but the outdoor market is weather dependent. Quakertown is open Fridays and Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sundays, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The market is located at 201 Station Road in Quakertown, PA 18951.
For more information, call 215-536-4115, email email@example.com or visit www.quakertownfarmersmkt.com.