You won’t believe what Hubby and I did for the first time ever…
We spent two Saturdays in November holding our first yard sale and selling our wares as vendors at a flea market.
I’m super stoked to be writing this post — and not just because it’s something other than an income report. 🙂 I’m excited to write this post because I’ve always had questions in the back of my mind about yard sales and flea markets (particularly about whether or not they are lucrative and worth the time).
Now that I have some experience under my belt, I hope that this post will be helpful to someone looking for another outlet besides eBay for their merchandise.
Our Yard Sale Experience
Several months ago, our garage reached it’s breaking point. We simply couldn’t fit any more merchandise in there and I wasn’t listing our eBay inventory fast enough. I kept trying to convince Hubby that we should hold a garage sale, but he was totally against have “random people” in our driveway or “random people” knowing what we had hidden behind our garage door.
He changed his mind in October when he realized that if we were going to get rid of our excess eBay inventory before the new year, we had to find another outlet for it. We actually held our first yard sale during the beginning of November and while I didn’t feel that we had too much foot traffic, we got rid of some merchandise and made a little over $900 in one day doing so.
I wish I would have taken a picture of everything we had for sale, but I honestly didn’t think to document the experience. (I do, however, have some of the pictures of items for sale that I posted on Craigslist). To paint a mental picture though, just imagine our entire driveway and a portion of our lawn covered with boxes and tables full of curling irons, flat irons, razors, stockings, vitamins, baby toys, clothes, video games, cosmetics and everything else that we had earmarked for eBay or to be damaged/counted as a loss.
Unfortunately, even though we made $900, we didn’t even make a dent in the merchandise that we had out for sale. We actually wound up bringing most of it back into our garage and I swear it took up more space after the yard sale than it did before. It was at that point that my husband suggested that we actually hold another yard sale and this time we would sell everything in a “fill a bag” or “fill a box” fashion so we could just get rid of it and FAST!
I thought it was a great idea, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to hold that type of sale in our driveway. I had too many thoughts of lines of people and the overall chaos that occurs when bargains are involved. I kept envisioning a “Black Friday” yard sale stampede of sorts and it was at that point that I suggested that we try our hand at selling at a flea market. I believed that would be the best place to test out the “fill a bag” sale.
Our Flea Market Experience
I’ve only attended a handful of flea markets in my life. This was definitely an experience to remember because I was the seller, not the shopper. We were up at the crack of dawn (4:30 am to be exact) to make this event a success. Thankfully, we loaded the U-Haul the day before and I prepared our breakfast the night before.
We didn’t get on the road until 6 am and the flea market gates were open to public at 7 am which didn’t leave us much time to setup.
…not that it would have mattered…
You see, what I’ve learned in my short experience as a flea market vendor is that your customers are not going to wait until you have everything set up. Instead, they are going to rummage through your things while they are still in boxes and purchase merchandise before you have a chance to neatly arrange it on your tables.
…and if you’re married to my husband (who wanted everything sold by the end of the day), you will stand in complete annoyance that he announces that we’re having a “fill a bag” sale to everyone passing by while we’re still in the middle of unpacking.
…and you’ll stand in complete bewilderment as 15 people swarm your area (all before 7:30 am) each asking questions and throwing money at you while you still haven’t unpacked and your husband is selling everything but the kitchen sink for rock bottom prices — including a box full of 200 pieces of Maybelline and OPI polish for $30.
…but I digress…
As tiring and physically demanding as that day was, I really did enjoy being a flea market vendor for a day. I honestly believe there is a psychology behind selling at flea markets. We were stationed right next to a seasoned vendor who at one point explained to my husband that he didn’t need to drop his prices and that one customer in particular would have paid doubled what my husband quoted him. Although I do believe we need to learn the art of haggling, to be fair, we had no intentions of holding out for the highest price. We wanted to see everything sold.
Going forward, I don’t know if I could ever do this on a regular basis, but I do believe flea markets are the perfect place to get rid of excess inventory. In our case, we were faced with two choices: 1) write the items off as a loss and throw them away or 2) re-coup some of our investment for unsellable items and donate the rest.
To clarify, everything that we sold at the flea market was not in damaged condition. Many items couldn’t be sold for a profit on Amazon or eBay, a lot of the items were excess inventory or Amazon FBA returns, some items had been sitting unlisted for almost a year, some may have been missing pieces, many were close dated or expired, other items I simply never got around to listing and/or I knew that I could get just as much for the item at the flea market as I would on eBay after taking into account fees and shipping.
The “fill a bag” idea turned out to be a great success. To put things in perspective, we filled an entire U-Haul cargo van and our vehicle with the goods we intended to sell. My husband was adamant about NOT bringing any of that merchandise home so we cut deals like crazy throughout the day — with the bulk of our purchases being made between 7:00 – 9:00 am! We allowed patrons to fill a bag of goods for $5. Most of these items were health and beauty related that we had in abundance. The bigger ticket items we sold individually.
We grossed a little over $1k and spent about 6 hours at the flea market. We also ended up making connections with a few people who want to buy our excess inventory going forward. I took a few phone numbers and business cards and I’m excited that we have a few new outlets to unload our excess merchandise.
We ended our day about 2 hours before the flea market was scheduled to close. Even though we didn’t sell everything, we made a HUGE dent in what had available and everything else that remained we loaded back onto the U-Haul and dropped it off at the nearest Goodwill Donation Center.
The Final Results
In the end, we grossed approximately $2,000 from two separate days of selling inventory earmarked for eBay or destruction. There were some expenses that we had to account for such as:
- Renting a U-Haul
- Fuel (for U-Haul)
- Paying for help (yard sale)
- Flea market space fee
Even after all of those expenses, we were still profitable and we have a good chunk of our garage back.
I can definitely see how this could be a full-time job for others. Would I do it again? Yes…but only if we found ourselves needing to unload that much inventory again. Would Hubby do it again? Yes…but not during Q4. (His words, not mine.) 🙂
Until next time,
P.S.> If you blog about selling at flea markets, please share your blog in the comments below. I’d love to read more stories/experiences.