Setting your prices can be one of the hardest parts of having a flea market booth. How you price items determines how quickly your inventory will turn over, which impacts how customers experience your booth. If items catch their eye but the pricetag turns them away, the customer might not stay in your booth and shop!
In my successful flea market booth, I use a few tricks and formulas to find a price point for items that help me balance between having a quick turnover and pocketing a bigger profit. Read on for advice on how to price second-hand items in a flea market booth, secondhand shop, or swap meet- plus at the bottom I’ve included some tips on reducing effort and expense when actually affixing price tags to products.
1. Be a shopper
Shopping other flea market booths will help you build a sense of what items are worth. With practice, you’ll be able to price things by “going off your gut,” saving lots of time.
2. Research eBay
eBay is a questionably successful selling platform for most items as we round out the 2010’s, however, it’s a very helpful resource for determining what an item is worth. To price check, just search for similar items and turn on the “completed sales” search filter. (be sure and look for *successfully* completed sales, rather than items that ended without bids.)
eBay is still your best bet when you come across small, highly valuable items when scavenging for flea market inventory. My rule is: If it’s easy to steal and expensive enough for a thief to be willing to risk it, I eBay it. – eBaying the item generally means being able to get the best price and not risking theft- it’s also perfect for very “weird” items like highly specialized tools that would be difficult to sell to the folks browsing flea markets.
3. Cost x 2 + booth fees
A classic retail pricing formula is to the take the price paid and double it. Because you may be sourcing your inventory from free sources or counting on reselling thrift store treasures, this usually isn’t the most reliable method, but may be helpful to have in mind.
4. A note on selling personal items.
Your flea market booth can be a great way to sell belongings that you no longer use or that no longer fit your style. It can be hard to price personal belongings- especially items with sentimental value. Be mindful of what the product’s may realistically sell for, and if the sentimental value exceeds that value- do not sell.
Adding Prices to Flea Market Items
In most stores, pricing is simple and standard- tags stuck to packaging or barcodes. In a flea market, affixing prices to products is both an art and a science. Without packaging to apply prices to, and with many vintage items having vulnerable or impossible-to-stick-to finishes, pricing creativity is called for.
You can read more about my advice on how to display items to boost sales on another post, but here are some basic tips for pricing:
1. String Tags
At about 1.5¢ each, string tags are an affordable way to price flea marted items and are the most common pricing method in most markets. Although not quick to apply (and thus, a little more expensive in regards to pricing labor), string tags are relatively visible and don’t fall off easily..
2. Address Labels (or round stickers)
you can buy a huge ssortment of blank stickers in a billion styles, but I find the best pricing value is avery 8160 (LINK) torn into strips and then cut in half= meaning you get 60 labels per sheet (cost breakdown per label?)
3. Cardstock and (sometimes) staples.
Cardstock can be used to price large or expensive items, and LARGE pricetags are more visible, and more visibility means fewer customers asking questions about pricing or handling the item (both potential profit killers).
for books- use a strip of cardstock placed in the book like a bookmark. Have the price extend above the pages (add the price again, lower, if your market requires a pricing format with booth number at upper right)
for some items (light fixtures, wall hangings, etc) the cardstock can be looped over and stapled.
4. Cheapest: Invest in a paper cutter, cardstock, and a tagging gun.
A tagging gun is the best purchase I ever made for my flea market- and never leaves my pricing kit Tagging guns can be used on a variety of products to pierce a porous part of the product and affix a tag. Other styles of plastic tags create the recognizable loop- making it possible to add price tags through handles or rings on a product in literally a fraction of the time affixing a string tag requires.
Pricing guns usually include a sharp needle nose, making it possible to pierce through a square of cardstock pricetag and affix the tag in a single motion.
5. Use an Impulse Sealer to Group & Price
My favorite way to clear “smalls” out of my booth without risking theft of these easy-to-pocket items was by using an impulse sealer and plastic bags to make larger grouped units with clearly marked price tags inside the bag (eliminating any price tampering)
These are just a few pieces of advise about how to choose prices for your flea market or swap meet booth items and, once you’ve picked a price, affix your pricetags in a way that keeps your material and time expenses low so you can enjoy a bigger profit from your booth. Go more tips? I’d love to hear how you calculate prices and affix pricetags in the comments below!