With flea market season in full swing, it’s the perfect time to tidy up the house and turn unwanted clothes, gifts and knick-knacks into extra cash.
After all, they say that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure, meaning clever bargain hunters might be out in search of the hidden
Gems gathering dust in your closet.
A flea market can be as simple as showing up and setting it up, but by knowing a few simple tips and tricks, you can maximize your profits and ensure that your 5am weekend alarm clock is actually worth it.
Speaking to Fabulous Digital, antiques expert and founder of Vintage Cash Cow, Antony Charman shared everything you need to know for a successful garage sale…
Start tidying up your house
The trunk pro points out that signing up for a trunk sale is a great way to motivate yourself to clear out all the clutter and free up much-needed space.
“If you don’t know where to start, grab a notebook and make a list of rooms that need cleaning,” he advises.
“Then break it down even further – what specific areas need clarification?
“In the bedroom, for example, this could be the drawers under the bed, the drawers in your dressing table, and your closet.”
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“Take a few boxes, label them ‘sell’, ‘donate’ or ‘recycle/discard’ and start sorting.
“Check each room/area to stay organized.”
Anthony goes on to say that when you’re tidying up, keep the best sellers in the trunk in mind so you can attract a steady stream of customers to your stand.
“This typically includes clothing, shoes, jewelry, accessories, unused cosmetics, children’s toys, baby products, jewellery, books, CDs and DVDs, games and consoles,” he explains.
First explore the trunk
The trunk expert says that once the trunk has been selected, it’s worth stopping by as a buyer before setting up your own stand.
“This will help you get a feel for what types of items are being sold, where most of the stalls are, and how vendors are pricing their items,” he says.
Anthony recommends even chatting with the regular vendors to see if you can get some location-specific tips.
Know the value of your item
The antiquities expert further advises that if you suspect any of your pieces might be worth a reasonable amount of money, you should consider doing some research before you travel.
Think of the bestsellers in the trunk. This usually includes clothing, shoes, jewellery, accessories, unused cosmetics, children’s toys, baby products, decorative items, books, CDs and DVDs, games and consoles
“There are many professional resellers at the flea market who can discover valuable items,” he explains.
“If they realize you don’t know the true value of your item, they’ll likely try to pressure you into getting a bargain and reselling it for a profit.
“This is especially true for silver and gold jewelry, watches, limited edition toys and games, dolls, comics, rare coins and stamps, collectibles, historical items, ornaments, china and glassware.”
Anthony warns that in some cases it might be a better idea to sell them online, where they’re likely to fetch a better amount of money.
Get there as early as possible
Everyone knows that flea market sales start at dawn. As such, the antiques expert recommends maximizing your chances of selling by getting there as early as possible.
“Parking spaces are usually allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, which means there are often long queues of cars waiting to get in and grab the best spots,” he explains.
“If you get there late, there may be a place left on the outskirts, with fewer passers-by and fewer opportunities to sell.”
He adds, “Besides, having to set up your stand while surrounded by customers will only make you nervous.”
“Early morning is often the most profitable time to sell, as that’s when serious, regular buyers make their rounds.”
Plan your pricing strategy
While you don’t necessarily have to rate each item individually, Anthony says it can help to have a vague idea of what you’re aiming for.
If not, he warns you not to get nervous and accept a cheap offer for something you know is worth more.
“At the same time, be realistic about your prices — you don’t want to drive home with a car full of clutter,” he says.
“Typically, you can expect to get 10-15% of an item’s original value.”
When in doubt, consider how much you would realistically be willing to pay for it if you were on the buy side.
“Remember that regular visitors to flea markets are willing to haggle,” he adds.
“Always start with a slightly higher price than you actually expect as this gives them leeway to move you down.
“For example, if you’re hoping to get £2.50 for an item, you could start at £4.”
Take some loose change
Anthony explains that flea market sales are one of the few remaining places that rely solely on cash sales.
“This means newcomers often end up missing out on sales because they don’t have enough change to return a £10 or £20 note,” he explains.
Be realistic with your prices. Normally you can expect to get 10-15% of an item’s original value
For this reason, Anthony suggests going to your bank and asking for around £25 for change.
“As you start selling, your coin supply should grow,” he continues.
“Rather than keep all your loose change in one bin at your booth, use a small shoulder bag to ensure it stays safe and secure.”
Prioritize the presentation
Anthony explains that the more eye-catching and organized your stand is, the more people you will attract.
“Not many people are willing to spend hours rummaging through different objects,” he says.
“Try to organize your booth by item type.
“For example, you might have a table or clothes rail that is organized by size or color, a box that holds all your books, and a tarp on the floor that you can lay out children’s toys on.
“You could even use signs to label each category.”
The trunk expert also recommends washing or wiping everything before going to the trunk sale.
“While buyers don’t expect everything to be in pristine condition, you’re unlikely to sell items that are covered in dust or clothes that are obviously unwashed or stained,” he points out.
Have a plan for whatever’s left
Anthony says that by the end of the garage sale, you’ll likely have at least a few unsold bits and pieces.
But instead of letting them clutter your house again, Anthony suggests, “Put them back in orderly boxes and, if you probably won’t make much money from them elsewhere, drop them off at a charity store or recycling center on your way home.” “
He goes on to say that for items that may have some resale value, consider listing them on online auction sites.
“Vinted, Depop and eBay are great places to sell clothes, while jewellery, watches, sunglasses, toys, coins, cameras and clocks can be sent for free to Vintage Cash Cow who will rate and buy your items
from you,” he adds.