Monday, May 21, 2018

How to display items at flea markets and swap meets

December 29, 2010 by Michael Alterio  
Filed under Featured HowTo, How-To Zone

Sure, low prices and high quality are the keys to success for any retailer, but those alone don’t sell a product. The right display is just as important. The same item will generate very different results if displayed on a mannequin or buried in a dark box. So what can flea market and swap meet vendors do to merchandise their wares most effectively? Here are some tips from experts who know just what vendors need.

Eric M. Weinstein, the owner of Specialty Store Services, sells merchandising displays to flea market vendors, so he knows what works, and he knows that swap meet spaces present special challenges. “You got to look at your space,” he recommends. “If it’s a smaller space, a good thing to do would be to put up grid panels. You can accessorize it with shelving or pegs, for pegable merchandise. I’ve seen this done outdoors — they are portable, and you can put them up and take them down.”

The booth re-imagined as a complete room works well for the “shabby chic” set.

Specialty Store Services offers a range of options for vendors: hooks, shelves, brackets, counters, registers, even bar stools. Weinstein has particular advice for clothing and signage. “With dry erase boards you can write your own message on there,” he says, “and for apparel, the grid fixtures are best — with waterfalls, you can put your clothes on hangers and put them on the waterfalls.”

Cree McCree is a journalist, fashion designer, music critic, and flea market maven. A 35-year veteran flea market seller, specializing in vintage clothing, she helped launch the Elysian Flea and Broad Flea markets in New Orleans last year. Here are some tips from Flea Market America, her definitive book for flea market vendors, used here with her permission:

• Emphasize attractive visibility that allows maximum access to the merchandise.
• Make it colorful, but keep it simple: Vendors have to be able put up and take displays easily.
• Make sure that clothing racks are sturdy enough to stand up to wind and foot-traffic.
• Add a mirror, because shoppers love to preen.
• Buy or make locking display cases for jewelry. Use deep-set trays for breakables.

A rotating lockable glass case with inset trays, like this one from Spin Display, may be worth the investment.

For expensive and vulnerable merchandise, like breakables and jewelry, a sophisticated case display may be worth the investment. For example, Spin Display makes wood and glass displays with rotating trays that offer easy visibility with limited access. Ask the company about its upcoming tabletop model that offers greater portability.

Other ideas for showing off jewelry, according to Rena Klingenberg of, include display stands, risers, earring racks, and more. She urges vendors to be prepared for wind, moisture, and weather. Her site includes many photos and ideas sent in by her readers.

More generally, speaking, Lara Fritscher of emphasizes practical matters such as organizing merchandise and safety. Vendors have a responsibility to keep customers safe. Here’s how:

“Most flea market booths are outside under a roof or awning, offering some protection from the elements. Wind is a constant possibility, so weigh down your displays. Place heavy or bulky items on or near the floor to lessen the possibility of injury to yourself or a shopper. Place written warning signs on sharp items such as swords or knives, and keep those items behind the table where customers must ask to touch them. During each setup, check the table and all display racks for sharp edges and remove or cover them as needed.”

By considering efficiency, security, eye-appeal, and customer needs, flea market and swap meet vendors can make sure they’re putting their best items forward.

Photo credits, with thanks: Jewelry Display Ideas, Spin Display, Junk Revolution.


3 Responses to “How to display items at flea markets and swap meets”
  1. Brian Baxter says:

    Wow, this is just the article I need to encourage my one hundred vendors at the Merrick Flea Market in Queens to maake the most of their indoor stalls. Many of the veteran vendors have an eye for style and know how to setup their merchandise to make the best appearance within their sellable space. Others, that are new think they should just buy some merchadise and throw it on a table. I tell them nomatter what you’re selling, you can enhance the value by creating a selling environment that the customer will enjoy coming into, and coming back to. I say create it, then wrap it up for the next day and come up with new ideas to enhance it for when you open again. Signs, tablecloths, colorfull beads, inscence or even just positioning things to get that Feng Shwei feeling, all work towards increasing your revenue at the end of each month. It’s your store. Make it say something about who you are.

    Brian Baxter

  2. Kristine says:

    Hi in a small space what would be the best but most effect way to display clothing for sale? Thanks for all the other great tips!

  3. Hello there! I simply want to ofer you a big thumbs up for your great info you have right herde oon this post.

    I’llbe returning to your website for more soon.

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