I have decided to start a flea market business. I have enough homemade crafts and decor to fill a table and even some vintage finds that I have tired of and am willing to sell. But, what happens when I sell all of this stuff? Well, I will have to make more and buy more for the next weekend. Part of the excitement of starting this new business is that I get to go out and find more stuff! As time goes on, I will know what sells and what doesn’t and I will become more focused in what I am actually going to sell. But, until that time happens, I need to line up my resources for finding treasures to sell. I will need to buy cheap so that I can mark it up enough to make a profit. So, with a little research, I have made my list of places to go and find resaleable treasures.
Yard Sales are the best place to start. I have been going to these for years and know pretty much what to expect. If I want to sell kitchen items, kids toys and books and old craft supplies, Yard Sales are the place to load up. Going to yard sales in older neighborhoods can net a lot of vintage items. These areas are usually well established with families who have lived there for decades. Their treasures may be a bit older and a bit more interesting than the newer suburbs with young families who have lots of baby clothes, toys and newer home furnishings. Church rummage sales, neighborhood sales, and block sales are all filled with some great merchandise too.
Estate Sales are great places to find things to resell also. They are usually a bit more expensive than a regular yard sale because they have an outside company coming in to set up and sell for a family. These normally happen after a family member dies and they don’t want the day to day items from one’s life. Depending upon where you live, Estate Sales don’t happen every single weekend. Although, some estate sales take place because the owners move, downsize, or enter assisted living, they usually only happen after the heirs set aside any pieces they plan to keep, and then they schedule a sale to liquidate the remaining contents of the house. But, many items find at estate sales have some higher value and can be resold for a higher price. If you wait to go to an estate sale until the last day of the sale; that's when the prices will be lowest.
Thrift Stores are my favorites to find really good stuff to sell. Their prices can range widely depending on who is setting the price. Thrift stores cost a little more than yard sales, but they usually have more of the stuff you are looking for to resell. I have gotten to know some of the people who work at my favorite thrifts and they call me when something special comes in so that I can make an offer before it hits their shelves. I happen to be a sucker for cut glass and fabric and have an amazing collection of both!
Then, there are other flea markets and antique malls. I can claim that I don’t come out of these with many items that I want to resell because the prices are higher. But I do find lots and lots of things that I add to my own collections at home. Even though these dealers are doing the same thing that I am doing by buying up things that are cheap and selling them for higher and it may seem strange, what items you like may actually not be found in too many places and you can get a higher price for it than you bought it for from that dealer. I have bought items at an antique mall in my small hometown and sold it at a flea market in a big city for 3 times what I paid for it! It is all about the location and the types of buyers.
Storage Unit Auctions or other Live Auctions are great places to find tons of stuff if you are willing to pay a price. For a storage unit auction, you have to be willing to find the whole storage unit. And then you have to go through everything, load it up and take it away. You will be buying lots of things that you won’t want to sell, but some of the other things that you get can override any losses. Regular live auctions are an excellent source of antique, vintage, and primitive merchandise. You have to do some research before you attend a live auction because you only want to attend the ones that have things that you want to buy. You don’t want to attend an auto auction when you are looking to buy vintage lace! There are many types of auctions such as estate, household, barn, farm, or country auctions. After you have attended a few auctions, you will get to know the regulars and the auctioneer. They will get to know you and let you know when something that you are looking for is coming up. I became known as the “dollar lady” because they could count on me to buy something for just a dollar if no one else was interested!
You can put an ad in the paper asking for certain items that you wish to buy. “Wanted to Buy” columns are full of people claiming to buy old records, quilts and books and matchbox cars. You can also place an ad on Craigslist asking for the same thing. You can also be general in what you are asking for. “Old stuff”, “antiques”, “jewelry” are all categories that people list. When someone gets hold of you, keep as much as you can private. There is no need to give more than your first name and certainly not your address. Meet them in a public place and make your sale.
Classifieds ads in newspapers are great places to find things in the “for sale” column. You can look in your regular newspaper, your shopping guide and on Craigslist again. Facebook also has a section where people sell things called Marketplace and then there are swip swap groups. Both swip swap and craigslist are live postings and if you are not looking on a regular basis, you may miss some items as the postings get moved down the list. Check all categories because items get miscategorized on a regular basis.
There are people called Antique Pickers or just Pickers who go out looking for items for you on a regular basis. They go to the same places that you do, but sometimes, a second set of eyes can help find what you are looking for. These people will try to sell for top dollar at high end shops before they will sell to you for a much lower price. But, they may work with you on finding your desired merchandise.
Stores going out of business or closing and their subsequent liquidation is a way to find newer items at deep discounts. You can buy display fixtures and storage cabinets, glass displays and clothing racks. We bought a giant paint mixer when Kmart closed its doors along with hundreds of clothing hangers all for under $50. Mannequins, jewelry busts, lighting fixtures and lots of old stock items are easy and cheap to get at a store liquidation sale.
And finally, you can find items to purchase for resale just about anywhere. One day on a long country road, we saw a wicker couch laying on a front lawn. We drove past a couple of times to see if the couch was old. Finally, we stopped and knocked on the front door. The lady of the house said that it had fallen off the porch when 2 of her dogs went running through. She had just left it there until her son could come and pick it back up. But, she asked if we wanted to buy it. A back and forth took place for a price and we happily drove down the road with a 100 year old wicker couch hanging out the back of our subcompact car! The final price? $25!!
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