by Meaghan Brophy
Summer and flea markets go hand in hand. Particularly if your market is near a coastal or tourist destination, the majority of shoppers at your market will be vacationers. Last year, around 85% of Americans planned at least a one-week vacation, more than a third planned to take two weeks. Less than 25% of citizens planned traveling out of the country in 2015, preferring to stay closer to home. The majority of Americans take a summer vacation within the United States, leaving fleas, fairs, and festivals plenty of seasonal and souvenir sales opportunities.
As Rachael Gourney, Director of Buyer Services for the International Gift Exposition in the Smokies® (IGES), tells Merchandiser, “Souvenirs are at the heart of a successful tourist experience.” Give your shoppers what they want by providing souvenir, gift, and seasonal items. “While some trends in the industry change faster than the seasons, other have become staples and maintain popularity consistently year after year. Successful souvenirs speak to the experience behind a trip or destination. The memories and feelings should be easily evoked by the acquired keepsake,” continues Gourney. The following suppliers are top providers of seasonal and souvenir products for standout summer booths:
“One of the best ways to ensure a souvenir easily evokes memories and feelings of the trip is to offer name-dropped products,” says Gourney. Tim Smith, President of SJT, agrees; “the tourist community is a huge business for flea markets. If someone is on vacation in a fun resort area, they want to buy something with that destination name on it that will remind them of happy times.” SJT offers decorative wooden signs that can be name-dropped for your location. Their signs are made “in small quantities right in the U.S.A. at a low cost,” says Smith. In addition to name-dropped signs, SJT offers surfboard shaped plaques with beach artwork, and additional themes including lake and cabin artwork, camping, hunting, fishing, and more. “Our wooden dog breed signs are a home run every time,” says Smith. “People love their dogs and they love these signs.” The signs cost $2.79 – $7.49 wholesale, depending on size and shape. Recommended retail prices range from $7.99 – $19.99. Minimum order is $100 and orders typically ship within 3 – 4 days.
For more information and to browse the huge selection, visit www.ThousandsofSigns.com.
Depending on the location of your swap meet, or if you will be vending at certain festivals or events, adding western themed products to your booth would be a lucrative investment this summer. As Gourney explains, “buyers are captivated by the authenticity and the story behind certain goods.” Western Express Inc. is a second-generation family-owned and operated wholesaler of country western cowboy hats and country western accessories, including many Made in the U.S.A. products. Dan Mottsman, CEO of Western Express, explains that many of their best sellers include “straw and felt cowboy hats, gun belts, holsters, western shirts, and belt buckles. Especially during the summer we see increased sales in cowboy hats.” Straw hats are an ideal option for summer flea market tourists as a practical souvenir that also evokes memories of their trip and feelings of nostalgia.
Western Express wholesale orders have a $175 minimum. “We have a wide range of products and recommend that customers purchase a variety. We can also recommend specific straw and felt cowboy hats, buckles, western jewelry, and shirts. I constantly receive compliments on our friendly and attentive staff,” says Mottsman.
For more information, visit www.wexpress.com.
Just like western apparel is a natural fit for warmer weather; bluegrass and other instruments are top sellers for outdoor festival season. According to Guy Petty, President and CEO of SHS International, “bluegrass instruments, guitars, banjos and mandolins are always great sellers in festival season. People are traveling, looking for fun things to do, and usually have a few extra dollars to spend. Markets have great traffic and selling opportunities.” Founded in 1990, SHS International is a full-line musical distribution and manufacturing company. Their Indiana Guitar Company products “have been a number one best-seller since 2002. The quality and price point are unmatched in the industry.” Petty has also seen “buying trends moving towards ukuleles and budget-friendly guitars.”
In addition to music festivals, summer is prime time for college visits and events. If your market is near a college or university, you will have many shoppers who are visiting the school or students out on summer break. SHS carries a large line of college guitars, straps, picks, and pick jewelry for many different schools.
“We have twenty five years of experience working with flea markets,” says Petty. “We can give great advice based on your market’s demographic. We know what sells and the prices that work.” SHS has no order minimum, so flea marketers can test the products at their own pace. Orders typically ship within twenty-four hours. “If you want to draw traffic in your booth, you need to have products that draw attention,” says Petty. “Our college guitars, ukuleles, banjos and mandolins do just that.”
For more information, visit www.shsint.net.
Patriotic themed merchandise is always popular in the summer, especially around the 4th of July holiday. This year, the presidential election will only heighten the demand for USA style goods. Ramson’s, celebrating their 45th anniversary in business, offers a wide selection of flags, lapel pins, signs, and licensed military products. Nita Chabria, Senior Vice President says last year their polyester flags were best sellers during the summer. “With this year being an election year, there should be a lot of patriotic items such as USA flags and Gadsden flags,” says Chabria. “People like going outdoors in the summer in search for something different at a reasonable price,” she continues. “Last year sales tended to be based on various local events, but this year appears to be heavily based on our political system.”
Regardless of political tendencies, shoppers will want to show their American spirit in a way that fits with their community and their own personal style. In addition to American flags, pins, bandanas, signs and license plates, Ramson’s carries NFL, NBA, Collegiate, and Military licensed products, so you can stock your booth with merchandise for the favorite local team. They also have nostalgic Coca-Cola®, and Budweiser® licensed products to expand on the Americana theme.
Within Ramson’s 148-page color catalogue, vendors can find products that will attract shoppers at a low cost. “Our products range from $1 – $15 wholesale and the cost can be doubled or tripled for the retail price,” says Chabria. All purchases have a $150 minimum and most orders placed before 12pm are shipped same-day. “Our staff is always happy to make suggestions based on the buyer’s market. We pride ourselves on great customer service, very competitive pricing, and plenty of stock.”
For more information, visit www.riohio.com.
In addition to Americana, sunglasses are another traditional summer staple. Though they certainly can be name-dropped and customized for specific tourist destinations, sunglasses are profitable seasonal impulse purchases all on their own. Most people own several pairs and won’t hesitate to pick up another if they need them in the moment, or find a new style that appeals to them. CTS Wholesale has been a leading supplier of wholesale sunglasses, displays, and accessories for over twenty-five years. Many of their customers vend at fleas, fairs, concerts, sporting events, and festivals. Kirk Bachelder of CTS says, “While quality over price is definitely important, it’s also important to have a variety of styles. Don’t get too heavy handed with a certain style to start.” Every market will have a slightly different demographic and every individual will have slightly different taste. “Having a broad selection makes a difference so you have something for everyone,” says Bachelder. “Everyone has different styles, and everyone has a different face shape. Some styles fit different face shapes better than others.”
Make sure to have plenty of mirrors readily available so customers are invited to try on the glasses and interact with your booth. An inviting and colorful sunglass display is an easy way to boost booth traffic during the summer months.
CTS Wholesale offers a variety of best-selling glasses, and have recently added new color selections to their top selling styles. The popular California Classic style is now available in matte black, turquoise, hot pink, and several multicolor varieties. Popular Aviator styles are available in many colors, as well as sports and children’s glasses. All sunglasses are sold by the dozen and there is no minimum for orders. With prices starting at $8 for a pack of twelve, adding sunglasses to your booth is an easy investment.
For more information, visit www.ctswholesalesunglasses.com.
This summer shoppers will be looking for fun and practical seasonal products and souvenirs to remind them of their memorable warm-weather travels. As Gourney says, “souvenirs allow us to share our stories and to re-experience the magic of a trip since passed.” When stocking your booths for the summer, keep these sentiments in mind when choosing your products. As always, be considerate of the price point of your market. However, “although the ability to satisfy the appropriate price point depends on clientele and location of the market,” says Gourney, “ensuring that the customer can safely and easily get their souvenir home is a key consideration for vendors as well.” With thoughtful selection and proper set-up, souvenir and seasonal products of all kinds can be a profitable venture this summer. For ordering details and customized recommendations for your store, visit our various partners’ websites.