Hey folks, we've got a surge in inquiries and vendors lately, so we'd thought we'd share what every flea market participant should know, from our point of view.
If you think you already know, you can ignore this post and brush it aside, or you can choose to carry on reading it, and even choose to agree or disagree - every entrepreneur is entitled to their point of view, and also their own formula for success.
For this article, the term 'flea markets' is used interchangeably with 'bazaars'.
The 1st thing you must know is:
- Yourself - Am I serious about my entrepreneurship venture, or not? Do you know yourself well enough? If you don't here's a free online tool : Don't pay for anything, unless you want to : http://www.teamtechnology.co.uk/myers-briggs/myers-briggs.htm .
The tool can help you to understand your own personality type : it's a bit like going to the fortune teller to have your horoscopes read, except that they do not need your dates of birth..etcetera. Instead they rely on some guru's theory and scientific practice (read : research and experiments) to come with with 16 broad personality types.
Once you know yourself better, you will be able to manage your entrepreneurship journey much better : because to the entrepreneur, they and the business are one.
If you don't want to do the test, just ask yourself this question : Am I serious about my entrepreneurship venture, or not?
- The 2nd thing you MUST know as a SERIOUS entrepreneur (we're assuming you're one) is whether you're selling what you want to sell or selling what people want to buy? (Thse could be : products, services, ideas, technologies..etc)
If you sell what you want to sell, how do you know your customers (people who buy your products and/or services, ideas or technologies..etc) would buy them?
If you sell what people want to buy, how do you know that it would be at a price point that would allow you to profit ? (We'd like to take some moments here to acknowledge that there are some folks who leverage flea market platforms as marketing channels, rather than treat it as profit centers, in this case they would have marketing objectives to meet given their budgets)
Many entrepreneurs we've come across have a certain percentage mix of what they want to sell versus what customers want to buy. How to determine this mix, is really up to yourself to decide based on your experience, intuition, and research.
Research information such as demographics such as population pyramid of Singapore, GDP per capital, employment analytics, statistics of residents around the flea market area, population density, economic trends, general sentiment of consumers in the economy etc. and then map this to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Then conduct an environment scan using PESTEL, SWOT, or TWOS. (All of the above information can be googled. Just make sure the information source is credible).
If the above paragraph sounds alien and overly academic to you, there is another way : Participate in flea markets and bazaars more often (we know it's going to use a lot of energy and effort) then make your own observations and adjust your product mix / price accordingly). Be at a venue(s) regularly so you can know what what customers want (after being there regularly).
As well as who are your customers - male, female, students, working adults, families with kids, families with grandparents... etc.
- Entrepreneurs are risk-takers, whether you're a serious entrepreneur or one who's just testing the waters. And taking business risks means facing the prospect that your venture might not yield the outcome you desire. Especially when there are elements beyond your control, such as the weather.
The outcome usually consists of a profit outcome, and a marketing outcome : some entrepreneurs have also consciously their brand as credible flea market pop up businesses. What is brand? It's not just a logo and slogan. It's the identity and personality of a business : It's what makes business entities more human, giving them both the strength and weaknesses that of human beings.
If you are risk adverse : check out some of the local employment websites and look for part time employment.
- Flea Market Organisers usually take the risk first before vendors do. Because they need to pay rental for space and may not be able to sell the booths. Because their reputation can be affected if what they promised to vendors (or other stake holders) are not what they deliver. Because they have much more to lose in absolute terms after they've made the agreement with the venue, and fail to meet the critical number of vendors to break even.
For the same reason of making Agreement, organisers and venue owners have a list of dos and don't and this covers product curation and managing conflicts of interest with their long term tenants. And for this reason, some things are beyond the control of the organisers.
Here's a secret : Many good venues want to have interesting vendors : that basically means your booths and product displays have to look attractive, and your products interesting. To have interesting products, you can include products such as leatherware that can be partially customised on-the-spot to customer's requests (by adding on some charms or bling blings).
By good venues, we are referring to those with good human traffic plus high perceived spending power.
- Do you buy things to sell, make things to sell, or sell what other vendors are selling?
If you buy things to sell:
With the advent of e-commerce, online shopping and the rise of the Info Communication Technologies Industry, shoppers habits are evolving. Many will search for these products online and do a price comparison before buying. So what can you do if you find the bulk of your products are found online?
1. Sell products that are hard to get, hard to find online, and only available in bulk buying.
2. Sell products that people buy on impulse
3. Offer promotions to customers who buy from you.
If you make your things to sell, including food, you will find that the bulk of your time would be building your online presence through social media of through a home-chef app such as Hcook that facilitates home chefs and bakers to sell their home made products.
Participating in Flea Markets would be to establish credibility with your customers, potential customers, and get leads for new leads or customers - get them to follow you on instagram or facebook.
If you sell what your competitors are selling, two scenarios may occur :
One : both of you engage in a price war and dilute your own profits.
Two : both of you differentiate yourselves through customer service, decoration and branding and end up becoming more profitable, because CUSTOMERS will go to places where they can have more CHOICES.
In today's environment, monopoly of selling products at flea markets may not necessarily be a good thing, because what you sell may not be what they want to buy. So what do you do? Work with the other vendors who are selling the same products so you end up having a win-win.
- Social Media Marketing : Although everyone has their own success story, we think that every flea market vendor should have at least :
A Social Media Page / App such as instagram, facebook or heybuddies that you use to publicize your business / products and keep in touch with your customers. This can be best used for PUSH marketing (a concept we had written about in our earlier blog).
B. A website : Anyone can create your own website free of charge these days : An example is Weebly.com a DIY website where you can design, build and host your basic website for free! (The paid versions would have more functions). Use the website for PULL marketing (i.e. build your brand).
- How can your business be sustainable?
Use whatever Knowledge, Skills and Attitude to make it happen! The business model is interesting because you have very low fixed costs!
The physical part of Flea market businesses is tough,and it's important to persevere even though at times you feel like giving up.
With Knowledge and Skills, you will be able to harness the benefits of online marketing and e-commerce.