How to Be Successful at a Swap Meet

Swap meets are a great place to find bargains.
Swap meets are a great place to find bargains. (Image: Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images)

Swap meets can be a good source of income. Many people also take pleasure in selling at swap meets or their close cousin, flea markets. For all vendors, including artists and people who make crafts, selling at swap meets presents a great way to get immediate customer feedback and ideas for new products. The cost of renting a selling space is usually reasonable, and a bit of preparation can go a long way toward successful selling.

Shop some swap meets and see what sells well, or look for items that sell well on online auctions. If you are selling hand-crafted items, make enough inventory to fill up your table or booth. A sparsely populated booth does not attract as many buyers as a booth that is organized well with plenty of merchandise. Display your merchandise well. Make your booth conducive to sales, adding mirrors and a dressing area if you sell clothing or accessories, for example.

Price your merchandise attractively, with a range of merchandise at different prices to fit different budgets. Put some less expensive items or special deals in the front of your booth to bring customers in. If you are reselling wholesale goods, buy the goods at a low enough cost to give your buyers a bargain and still make a profit for yourself. For handmade items, price your product to recover costs for your labor as well as materials.

Chat with potential customers, or bring an assistant who will. Potential customers want to hear about your products and how the products can help solve a problem, or understand what previous customers have found valuable about your offerings and how that value might apply to them before they make a purchase.

Draw attention to your booth. Use a tented roof to protect your merchandise, and attach balloons or attention-grabbing signage. If your product can be demonstrated, do so and engage customers in trying the product themselves. Put out testers for lotions, perfumes and food items, and describe the benefits of the products while people are trying them out. According to Barbara Brabec, author of "Handmade for Profit," a good way to increase your booth's visibility is stringing a banner up high on top of your booth, clearly telling people what you sell. Additionally, display a few items on top of bookshelves or tall stands so they can be seen above the crowd.

Haggle. Many buyers expect this at swap meets and flea markets, and sellers can use it to their advantage by offering discounts if buyers purchase more items. Know the cost of your items well and say no to prices that are too low. If selling is slow, lower your prices toward the end of the day, but use this practice sparingly.

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