First Look – October 2012
Welcome to First Look, a sneak peek at empowering business information and insights, for PROVENDOR members only.
How to Make Your Booth Inviting to Holiday Shoppers
This month’s PROVENDOR mediacast: Holiday shopping is already in full swing! Is your booth ready?
From Cheese Steak to Sales: Philly Vendor Reveals Recipes for Success
FleaMarketZone.com and Merchandiser Group magazine editor, Gloria Mellinger, recently spoke with Mario S., a vendor who has been selling at flea markets in the Philadelphia area for the past 10 years. Mario also sells online at Amazon and eBay, and he launched a blog, Philadelphia Flea Market News, about five months ago to share his views on what is going on at the local markets. Mario shared his up-close view of the state of the industry and trends he has been observing. So that Mario can continue to review markets anonymously for his blog, he asked that we withhold his full name.
Editor: Are you familiar with Merchandiser magazine?
Editor: How did you get into the flea market business?
Editor: What made you decide to launch a blog?
Editor: When did you begin selling new merchandise?
Editor: What types of merchandise are you interested in selling?
Editor: What merchandise is trending these days?
Editor: How many markets do you sell at throughout the year?
Editor: “Of the markets you’ve sold at, what is your favorite and why?
Editor: What does management do to make this market a success?
Editor: How are things in general at the markets?
“If I notice anything, it’s that there are so many more flea markets now than there were 10 years ago—there is so much competition. That hurts a little. Another big problem, in Philadelphia, is with the weather. Almost every flea market organizer has their flea market in May, June, September and October. They stay away from July and August because it is so hot. And I think that hurts, too. There are weeks when there are many flea markets, but shoppers can only go to so many.”
Trends in Merchandising that will Help you Leverage Holiday Sales
Americans are expected to spend about four percent more this holiday season than they did last year, and market vendors can expect to get a piece of that action. As shopping season commences, all types of merchandise move at a more rapid pace than usual, even for vendors who don’t sell holiday themed merchandise. If you’re thinking of giving seasonal products a try, however, there are a few actions you can take to master the holiday marketplace.
First, take into account the layout of your booth. It may be easier to theme or localize your holiday products than to disperse them with your other merchandise, or the opposite may be the case. In general, decorations can be placed anywhere in a booth, displayed as they would be in a customer’s home, whereas standalone items do better when clustered together. If you want to sell something versatile, try colored or clear rope lights and garlands, and display these as you would in your own home. For more holiday-specific products, creating a section in your booth tells customers that yours is the right booth for all of their holiday needs.
Next, know the trends. While some holiday products are less subject to trend than other types of merchandise, there are still trends within the seasonal sector worth noting. This year, cool hues and vintage bulbs are seeing an uptick in consumer interest, and LED lights are more popular than in previous years. Knowing that customers are drawn to items that deviate from the traditional red-and-green theme can give vendors an edge and help you buy merchandise that will make you stand out from the rest.
One thing you may want to consider, if you operate your booth on a weekly basis or are at a flea market that runs year round, is offering a coupon or gift certificate plan to your customers. If you have the same booth week after week and your customers are locals or regulars, offering a gift certificate is one way you can turn a profit now while creating new or repeat customers later. While it doesn’t apply to every flea market or vendor, it’s worth giving a try.
For hobbyist vendors, try checking out the one-day bazaars that pop up around the holidays. These annual affairs often get a great deal of publicity and can be worth the effort involved because of the volume of foot traffic these bazaars receive. An extra day or two at a nearby pop-up market can be a quick and easy profit opportunity. Keep an eye on the FleaMarketZone.com news column and your local community calendar to find festive events in your area.
Finally, amplify your marketing efforts. This is the time of year when new customers are actively seeking out places to get a great deal on just the right gift, so use social media and word of mouth to your advantage. If your market has a Facebook, Twitter or independent website, make sure your booth is a part of it. By putting forth a little extra effort in the name of publicity, you can be sure that shoppers will flock to your business.