Today’s market is not your grandfather’s market. Yes, there are still lots of antiques and collectibles in the marketplace, but in the past few years many markets and swap meets have seen the proliferation of trendy new food markets, farmers markets, specialty auctions, themed promotional weekends, and more. All of these new market features are designed to draw in new shoppers, and they are largely very successful – if you know how to take advantage of the incoming shopping crowd. Let’s break down these new market ventures and look at ways vendors can win new shoppers – and get existing customers to return and spend more.
Antiques, Collectibles, and Vintage
In days gone by, the prevailing thought was: the older the piece, the higher its price. But as the flea-market crowds have started shifting to younger shoppers, so too have the styles and tastes changed from heavy dark wooden furniture and draperies to more clean-lined furniture, retro-styled appliances and fun and funky vintage fashions, especially styles that emulate those of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.
In today’s young hipster market, prices in these categories are appreciating, and vendors should be aware that as demand rises, their prices should reflect that, too. However, vendors selling the traditional styled furniture also need to re-evaluate pricing – and may need to drop their prices.
“The young generation is not really buying antique furniture and sterling silver,” says Sotheby’s director Patrick van der Vorst, so demand for these items is dropping. As a motivated seller, you should look over your prices and make sure you are still competitive – check out other vendors and see what things are moving, and at what prices. “Some sellers clearly didn’t get the memo,” says Helaine Fendelman, president of Helaine Fendelman & Associates, a NY based appraisal and sales firm, and are possibly missing sales by not keeping their prices current to the trends.
Food Markets / Farmers Markets
Many swap meets and markets have added new sections or expanded existing market footprints to include fresh produce stalls. These items are wildly popular with shoppers and tend to attract the health-conscious and ecologically minded crowd. If you carry items like BPA free water bottles, clothing made from recycled content, or products sourced from sustainable or fair–trade suppliers, make sure to have this clearly labeled at your stall. There are any number of products that are attractive to this environmentally sensitive shopping audience and if your market is attracting more of this kind of crowd, change up your merchandise mix to offer the types of goods these shoppers will want to buy. An added bonus is many shoppers are willing to pay slightly more for a product that is ecologically sourced, so as an added boon, you may find higher profit margins on these items.
Auctions / Themed Promo Weekends
Has your market or swap added an auction night or a calendar of events to draw in customers? Many market owners have realized the huge benefits of drawing in big crowds with specialty events, and you can get in on the action, too. Firstly, talk to the market management. Find out exactly what kind of promotion they will run, and when the event will be held so you can get involved. Offer to sponsor an auction, or donate a basket or collection of items to be auctioned if the auction is for charity. If the auction is not for charity, pull together a group of related products and enter them as a lot in the auction. Make sure to place your booth or company name prominently, and watch to see what kind of response you’ll get. Many vendors find success in moving merchandise in this manner, and if the proceeds go to charity, the good-will benefits everyone.
If your market is holding a themed weekend, like a car show or a live music event, again, ask the market management how you can be involved. Whether it’s sponsoring signage, including your booth name and location, paying for free drinks, again branded with your booth name and location on the cups, or even something as simple as selling a batch of t-shirts with the event information printed on them, the opportunities for vendors to work with their markets are nearly endless.
Selling more does not have to mean adding an onerous process into your already busy schedule. By spending a few minutes looking at your marketplace and determining exactly what kinds of changes are happening, you can make some smart decisions. With just a few adjustments to your product mix, pricing or your booth signage, you can make your booth more attractive and become a super-star seller.