Published April 2, 2001

Start a Flea Market Business: Steps to Business Success

"Small opportunities are the beginning of great enterprises." ...Demosthenes

Are you looking for a quick and inexpensive way to start your own business, as well as an education in entrepreneurship? Get a spot in your local flea market.

It may be your answer. If you have been wishing to take the plunge into your own business, but are afraid of the risk, short on cash, and not quite sure how to go about it, a flea market stall is an easy way to learn how to be a successful entrepreneur. It has all the elements of owning and managing your own business, with little risk. And, you can keep your full-time job while managing your new business on weekends. Can you think of a more ideal to start your new career?

You will be challenged with all the basics of entrepreneurship.

1. Selling and Customer Relations. You will learn the art of handling customers and developing selling skills. You will learn how to handle objections, unrealistic demands, and how to be at ease with your customers. A few weekends on the firing line are all it takes.

2. Cash Management. What better way to find out if you can handle cash and record keeping? Cash management is acting responsibly with your most valuable asset. This is the test of entrepreneurship. You need cash to buy inventory, to replace sold merchandise, to pay your expenses. Your "stall" has all the basics you must manage.

3. Inventory control. To succeed you need the right merchandise. If you are out of stock you will lose sales; if you have goods that nobody wants, you are tying up your precious dollars. You will be forced to learn the skills of having the right merchandise for your customers - when they want it. If you don't, you will get bored manning a booth with little traffic.

4. Pricing. The secret formula to all business success - profits! You will learn to price your products to earn you a profit. Your first weekend of business will tell you if you sell too cheap or too dear. You will learn that sales volume does not mean success - what good is selling at prices that do not earn you enough money to pay your expenses and put a few dollars in your pocket? On the other hand, if your prices are too high, it will be a boring day without sales.

5. Location. A quick tour of a flea market will alert you to the prime spots - the spots with traffic. What good are your super-products at super-prices if no one looks at your merchandise?

6. Competition. You will not be alone as others are attempting to "corner" their market. It is unlikely you will have a monopoly. How will you compete? You will discover there is more to competition than price. It includes attractive merchandise, an attractive location, the universal "service with a smile" and presentation skills.

As you will discover from your adventure, all the pitfalls and problems of owning your own business will be thrust at you. It is an easy way to find out if entrepreneurship is for you. Do you have the talents and patience to manage a business? Can you deal with the problems? Does a good day excite you? How do you handle a bad day?

It is easy to get started. Check with your local flea markets about space, shop around for a few hundred dollars of inventory and open up. Once you get going, get a small business financial software program, ask for advice from other (non-competitor) operators and with reasonable good fortune, determination and willingness to work, your entrepreneurial journey will begin.

If things do work out and you are having fun while making money - great! If not, dump your inventory to a competitor and cancel your space.

(C) Copyright 2001 Dr. Paul E. Adams. Syndicated by Paradigm News, Inc.