Tips For New Vendors
Started by Andy and Jannis Paulk, Big Andy’s Market and Fun Center opened for business in Ocilla, Georgia on October 29th, and soon after launched monthly vendor classes for people with a desire to run their own business who were unsure how to start. The first class, held in November, featured lessons from three long-time vendors and all six attendees are currently either long-term vendors at Big Andy’s or in the stages of planning.
The Importance of Working Together
For Jannis Paulk, the relationships between owner and vendors, and between vendors and each other, are crucial. “In general, we are big believers in collaboration,” she says. “The days of beating out your competition to get to the top are over. If you look around, the businesses that truly excel today are the ones that work with partners that enhance their services and products. We see ourselves as the common partner for every vendor at the market, so it is important that we can identify how they can help each other be successful. The only way to do accomplish those goals is to foster a solid working relationship. It isn’t always easy to do because we are all so busy, but small things like the free classes go a long way in helping us grow together. We have a relationship with them that extends beyond what would happen in a traditional inquiry style meeting, and they have relationships with each other that are supportive in nature.”
Paulk says that it is a great time to be a vendor, as a combination of the weak economy and the emergence of television programs that showcase auctions, pickers and re-sellers have driven the public’s interest in flea markets to their highest level ever because people are looking for both great deals and hidden treasures. She adds that the hottest items have been repurposed items, home décor craft items, furniture and inexpensive staple items such as paper goods and cleaning supplies, which often can be sold cheaper than at discount stores in flea markets if bought in enough quantity.
For new vendors, Paulk gives six helpful tips that will help them get off to a good start.
1. Do your research. Go to an auction and see what items run that get a lot of bids. Those are usually the things that are most desirable. Visit other flea markets and see what booths seem the busiest, how the vendors display their items and what the pricing is for items you may be inclined to sell.
2. Price every thing you sell. Many people will pass up an unpriced item.
3. Display your items attractively. Make sure everything you have is clean and in new or like new condition (unless it is a true primitive, antique item). Get creative with your displays. Use bookshelves instead of tables if you can. Keep like items together. After you finish setting up your booth, step back and ask yourself whether it looks inviting.
4. Be friendly but not pushy. Most people that come to a flea market are doing so as an outing. Make them feel comfortable and welcome in your booth. Treat them like a new friend that has just stopped by to see you. Vendors that sit in their booth just waiting for a customer to come buy from them are the ones that will become frustrated by a lack of sales. Think of your own favorite store and how you interact with the people that run that store. Ask yourself what makes you look forward to going to that store and doing business there, and then act accordingly.
5. Market yourself. Spread the word to your friends and family about your booth and about the market in general. Every person you speak to will tell at least one more person. This is one of the many benefits of locating your business in a flea market – the collective social reach of all the vendors and the marketing efforts of the flea market itself come together to be a very powerful source of traffic for everyone.
6. Remember that you are a business person and act accordingly. Keep good records. Pay your sales tax. Have a current business license. Keep track of your inventory. Know how much you paid for every item you sell. Know your market and how to determine a price for your items that will generate sales AND make you money.
Building Up the Business
The vendor classes have been only one successful aspect of Big Andy’s business. “Things are going great,” Paulk says. “We are adding new long term vendors every week and have daily vendors popping in here and there on a regular basis. The customer traffic is picking up steadily as the word gets out regionally and we’re starting to book entertainment on the stage for special events. We knew that it would take time to grow a project as big as this, and we’re right on target to our expectations. The overwhelming response has been so incredibly positive that we anticipate a great 2012 at Big Andy’s. The vendors that jumped on board and are growing with us will always be VIP’s at Big Andy’s. Without them we wouldn’t be where we are and we appreciate them so much.”
Helpful How-To’s From FleaMarketZone.com.