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So You Want To Start A Flea Market Business...


“At a flea market I always head for the junk jewelry table first. – Ethel Merman

When we think of today’s economy it’s hard not to wince. Stocks go up and then plummet to depressing lows only to bounce back. Talk about inconsistent! The recent events that have happened in the Middle East are liberating, yes, but are having quite the effect on the economy and are driving gas prices out of the roof. Money can get pretty tight when a gallon of gasoline costs you four bucks. Due to higher costs and lack of work people have begun trying to make a little bit of extra money on the side setting up yard sales and making products out of their own homes. This does seem to help our pocket books but many find the poster board advertising “Yard Sale This Way------> doesn’t always bring many customers. For many the next step to better advertisement and higher profits can be to begin their own business. But what if you don’t have the money to spring into a new store front endeavor? If you’re low on capital and are looking to make a few extra bucks on the side then becoming a flea market vendor could be your best bet. But what does it take to start your own food vending stall? Don’t worry; I’m here to lay it all out for you!


LOCATION, LOCATION!

Before springing into the business, guns a blazing, stop and think first about your location. For the best flow of customers choose a flea market that has been established and well known for quite a while. Sure, their rent may be a little higher than the little dinky flea market on the other side of town but you will be making up for that with more buying customers. Once you’ve picked a successful flea market think next about your stall location. Depending on where you want your stall placed and if you have city/county licensing will determine how high or low your rent will be. For example if I wanted to have a very small outside stall for let’s say a boiled peanut business. At my local flea market they would charge me $38 for two days in a 10 x 10 foot space with two tables...if I have city and county licenses. Without those licenses I will be paying $42 for the same space. Likewise if I wanted a booth for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday on the inside of the flea market my costs would be much higher, ranging from $100 with a license to $122 without the licenses. You may choose to go without the city/county licensing but remember that you may still need a Sales tax number or Sales tax certificate plus proper licensing for selling food items.


What’re You Trying To Sell Me?

Another thing to think about with flea market vending is “WHAT ARE YOU SELLING? and will this product be appropriate for the flea market environment? For example selling pasta dishes inside of a flea market (especially one without a designated “food court area) would be an odd choice. People in flea markets want to be able to walk about the flea market while enjoying their food. Pasta is messy and can be very difficult to eat on the go. Popular foods found in flea markets tend to be things like funnel cakes, homemade fudge, popcorn, and I’ve even seen fried chicken. Another note, think about choosing products that are not only mobility friendly but very fragrant. A delicious smell can draw people from the other side of the flea market and make your stall a frequently visited place. Most importantly make sure to check and see if someone is already selling the product(s) you are considering for your business. Competition with an already established vendor could turn out to be a bad decision.


Presentation, Check!

The way you present your stall can mean a world of difference in the competitive world of the flea market vendor. One of my friends happens to have her own indoor flea market business and uses things like signage, high turnover products, and even a decorated mannequin in the front of her booth to catch the eye of shoppers. The more eye pleasing your store the more of a crowd your store will bring which results in more curious people wanting to see what “all the fuss is about.


Watch Out For The “5 Finger Discount

One big point to always remember is your pricing. There is opportunity in flea markets to have decent mark ups and bring in quite a bit of profit but you also have to keep the fact that many penny pinchers dwell in flea markets and may not buy your product if they can get it somewhere else cheaper. To create better pricing without cutting your profit margin down to nothing buy the ingredients for your product in bulk and/or wholesale. This can help you bring prices down for your customers. Also remember that if you have anything on shelves to watch for those with sticky hands. My friend has told me many times about the theft that happens way too often in flea markets and how you have to keep a watchful eye. She even puts signs up to warn those crafty types that she’s serious.


Once you have these all of these points covered think about what you will need to make this product you are selling. Popcorn doesn’t pop its self and I would be amazed to see a funnel cake made without the help from some form of equipment. Below us folks at KaTom have compiled a list of very helpful tools/equipment you could use to get your product to the shelves:


Shaved Ice Machine

Perfect for selling on hot days!


Shaved Ice Containers

So the product won't melt in your hands!

Ice Molds

You'll need ice for your machine!

Snow Cone Machine

Another big seller during warm weather.



Shaved Ice/Snow Cone Syrups

They won't buy non-flavored product!

Snow Cone Cups

Something's got to hold them!


Kettle Corn Machine

They will smell your product throughout the flea market!



Kettle Corn Mix

A convenient way to make kettle corn!

Kettle Corn Bags

They can take it home with them!

Cotton Candy Machine

Kids love cotton candy...



Cotton Candy Sugar

To make cotton candy, you'll need the sugar!

Cotton Candy Cones

These cones look great with cotton candy!

Cotton Candy Bags

These bags make it easier to eat your product at home!

Cotton Candy Display

Show off your product to buyers.


Nut Roaster

Roasted nuts are big selling items at flea markets and also emit a delicious smell.

Raw Nuts

For roasting, of course!

Frosted Nut Maker

Crowds are drawn in by sweet frosted nuts too!

Frosted Nut Cones

Serve up those frosted nuts in these!

Lemon Juicer

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade...and then sell it!



Beverage Dispenser

Keep your lemonade ready to sell and dispense!

Lemonade Cups

These cups advertise the goods!


Funnel Cake Fryer

For a classic fair food that tends to be popular at flea markets too.



Funnel Cake Mix

Mix makes whipping up a batch even easier!

Funnel Cake Toppings

I enjoy my funnel cake with strawberries...

Funnel Cake Mold

This helps you to keep the traditional funnel cake shape.

Funnel Cake Platter

You've got to serve messier things like funnel cakes on plates.

Corn Dog Fryer

If you choose to serve corn dogs you'll need one of these puppies.

Corn Dog Mix

Easy to use for those waiting hot dogs.

Corn Dog Bags

Serve those hot corn dogs up in these!


Advertising Poster

Put posters around your flea market area to help advertise!


No matter what your choice in product you’ll find that the weekend flea market job can be fulfilling in ways other than for your pocket. My friend often calls it her second home and loves talking to the regulars who are there week after week. I have to admit that since researching this subject in depth I’ve started thinking about opening a booth myself. I hope to see you there and GOOD LUCK from all the folks at KaTom Restaurant Supply!


- Heather ;)