Thursday, December 13, 2018

United Flea Markets: Small Business, Big Passion

November 23, 2017 by mbrophy  
Filed under Flea Market & Swap Meet News

Rob Sieban CEO of Mile High Flea Market, founded United Flea Markets just a year and a half ago, though the company has already made an enduring impact on the flea industry. United Flea Markets “was born out of excitement and love of the flea business,” says Rob. Having owned Mile High Flea Market since 2007, Rob as intrigued by the business as a whole, and felt he and his team could positively contribute.

In the spring of 2015, Rob acquired Flamingo Island Flea Market in Bonita Springs, Florida. That’s when United Flea Markets was born. Since then, they have acquired T&W Flea Market in Pensacola, Florida, Awesome Flea Market in Shepherdsville, Kentucky, and J&J Flea Market in Athens, Georgia. United Flea Markets now operates a total of five flea markets throughout the country.

First and foremost, Rob says he is not interested in creating “the Target® of flea markets.” He says, “I’m not interested in taking away a market’s individuality. We try to maintain the identity of each flea market and look at how we can positively impact the community.” Rob explains, “I’m a flea market owner and operator — not a finance person. I work weekends. I collaborate with everyone. I’m a flea market guy at heart.” United Flea Markets leverages corporate assets to grow markets while keeping the small business feel.

When acquiring a market, Rob says United Flea Markets looks at the whole package. “We look at the physical structure, the population of buyers, sellers, and employees. We view all of those pieces as part of what we are buying. We value the people as much as the land.” He explains that when his company purchases a market, they work to maintain the existing character while adding assets like technology and a robust marketing campaign. “We’re not changing the name, we’re not bulldozing anything down, we’re using what’s there.”

Rob says when United Flea Markets first starts working with a new market, “we are the students. We watch, listen, and learn from those who have been running the market.” The next step is to add in a “robust technology platform” to help with booking selling space and internal controls, “to make life convenient for team members and sellers and to use to make informed decisions.”

The next step is to invest money back into the market. “We look at bathrooms, paving, painting, anything that we can do to enhance the market,” says Rob. Finally, they develop a marketing campaign to attract more buyers and sellers. “In all of our cases we have been successful in growing the buyer and seller population pretty significantly,” says Rob. “That comes from listening, reacting, and putting in place programs that can grow.”

Rob explains, “People tell me I’m not short on passion for the business,” and it’s true. Anyone who talks to Rob can hear it in his voice. “It’s really a rewarding industry. We get to help people start their own business for a low entry of cost. We love seeing and hearing those success stories.” United Flea Markets looks to continue their path of expansion, offering opportunities for markets to grow and expand, or for market owners to exit profitably.

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