Swap Meets - A Fun Way To Make Money On The Weekends

Jun 3


Darren Hendricks

Darren Hendricks

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Looking for a way to make extra money, meet lots of interesting people, spend quality time with your family, enjoy the great outdoors ... and do it all without missing a day of work? Or maybe your goal is to make two or three-day weekends the only working days of the week. You may be able to do all of that and more as a Swap Meet/Flea Market marketer!You can find regularly scheduled Swap Meets and Flea Markets in cities and towns of all sizes across the nation, each attracting many hundreds, even thousands of bargain hunters. They may be held at the local drive-in theatre, in large parking lots, warehouses, parks, and community centers - just about anywhere there's enough room to put up some booths and bring in a crowd. The majority of the time these meets are held on weekends, although in some locations you can find them starting on Thursdays and running four consecutive days. Swap meets and flea markets are fun, profitable, and can be a great launching pad for your business. Many people who began with Swap Meet sales have gone on to open Gift Shops, or run sizeable Mail Order businesses.A SWAP MEET BY ANY OTHER NAME…


According to our FAR HORIZONS Business Coaching staff,Swap Meets - A Fun Way To Make Money On The Weekends Articles there are actually three distinct types of Swap Meets.

Note: (In the interest of simplicity, from here on in when we say "Swap Meets," we're also referring to flea markets, craft fairs, and similar events as noted below).

1.Outdoor Swap Meets

These usually run the gamut in terms of merchandise. Here, you can find anything from high end stereo systems to fashion jewelry to families clearing out Auntie Emma's garage of old tools, toys, and various parts and pieces from who-knows-what. Ordinarily these events attract folks looking for some bigtime discounts and bargains.

2.Indoor "Malls"

These usually attract a more professional class of marketer. The displays tend to be more organized in appearance, and the merchandise is generally of a consistently higher quality throughout the meet. Rather than tables there may be booths, and each marketer tends to specialize in specific product categories.

3.Craft Fairs

These may be held indoors or outside; you'll find them in parks, or as part of a local carnival, fund-raiser, county fair, or other similar event. Usually the marketers show their wares from booths, and the offerings can vary from homemade to high-ticket, (or homemade and high-ticket) depending on the location.


We've heard from scores of successful Swap Meet sellers over the years, and they tell us that the two most important things you can bring with you are:

1. A friendly, upbeat attitude.

2. Willingness to barter and "play the game."

As one member puts it, "People come to shop at Swap Meets looking for a bargain, and they come because it's fun. So I keep a smile on my face and I'm always ready to enter into the bargaining game. I have my 'bottom line' price in mind, and I don't go below it - but I'm always willing to give a little on the original asking price. That way my customer feels good about the purchase, and I still make a nice profit. We both come out winners."

Whatever type of Swap Meet you choose to begin with, there are some simple, basic steps you'll need to take before the event, during the event, and after the event.

Let's start with ... well, the beginning!


1. First, find out where the local Swap Meets are, if you don't already know. This shouldn't be too hard; they normally advertise in local newspapers, and in giveaway magazines you can find in convenience store racks. Smaller meets may not advertise, but if you check with the local drive-ins, or let your fingers do some walking through the phone directory, you should find some.

2. Next, scout the meet yourself. Take a look around, observing the tables and booths with a marketer's eye. What are the vendors carrying? More importantly, what aren't they carrying? What are they charging?

3. Reserve a table (or booth, as the case may be). Do this by contacting the meet manager, who will provide you with pricing, along with a list of rules and regulations you must follow when marketing at the meet. The cost for renting space at a Swap Meet varies widely, from a few dollars a day to much more, depending on the meet. Try to begin at an inexpensive yet well-attended meet, so you can keep your initial cash outlay as low as possible.

4. Select your merchandise. FAR HORIZONS' Business Coaching staff generally recommends you begin with $450-$750 worth of merchandise (meaning your actual cost).

5. Get your other supplies ready.

Depending on the meet, you may need to bring all or some of the following:

1. At least one folding table.

2. A cash box, with some small bills and change.

3. Folding chairs.

4. A clean tablecloth.

5. A large umbrella, tarp, or other type of canopy to protect your customers (and you) from the sun.

6. Some clear plastic to protect your merchandise if it rains (obviously, this applies to outdoor meets).

7. Plenty of business cards.

8. Some catalogs, brochures, New Arrivals fliers, or other giveaways to help promote further sales.

9. Your Yellow Price List, so you know your bottom line when it's time to haggle.

10. An order book, so you can write receipts and capture names, addresses, and phone numbers of all your customers.

11. A calculator.

12. A rubber stamp for endorsing checks.


Do everything you can to capture as much information about each customer as possible. Along with the name, address and phone, try to get an email address, (if you have email capability), a fax number, or even (especially) a credit card number, assuming you have a merchant account


If you're well prepared, the day of the meet should go pretty smoothly. Sure, you'll have some work to do, but it'll be a lot of fun, too - especially when you start making some sales and putting some cash in your pocket!
Here's what you have to do on your first swap meet day:

1. Turn off the alarm, get up, shower and get going (well, we told you this was a step-by-step guide, right?)

2. When you arrive at the meet, find your space and set up. Rehearse your set-up at home, so you can plan the most attractive display before you're actually at the meet. Your program video offers some examples of display do's and don'ts

3. Decide on your "bottom line;" that is, the lowest price you'll accept for each item. Our Business Coaching staff recommends one & a half times your cost as a good guideline.

4. Be prepared to take checks. Many of your customers will prefer to pay this way, and sellers report only a very small incidence of "bad" checks. Verify that the address and phone number is current, and it helps to write a driver's license or ID number on the check.

5. Remember to record the name, address, phone number, fax number, and email (as many of these as possible) of every customer.

6. You might want a partner along to help manage the cashbox while you handle the sales.



There are a couple of important things to do after one Swap Meet ends, and before another begins.

1. Build your mailing list - Add all the customer names you collected to your customer mailing list. Over time, these will be an important part of your follow-up marketing efforts.

2. Plan/Implement mailings - Depending on the size of your list, you'll want to start sending your customers some follow-up mailings.

That pretty much covers the basics of Swap Meet Marketing. But the main thing is, have a good time. Many sellers like to involve the family, (including the kids!) and turn weekends into quality time, with everyone working together toward a common cause. Swap Meet marketing is enjoyable, highly profitable, and can be done successfully by devoting just a few hours a week. A number of sellers combine business with pleasure, and travel the country from Swap Meet to Swap Meet. They use the revenues from each weekend to pay for their trip, and for more merchandise to sell at the next meet!