Flea Marketing: Plan Your Attack

With the weekend ahead I'm certain that some of you are planning to hit a few flea markets. Time to plan your attack! I'm quite pleased that it's about time for my annual trip to the Brimfield Flea Market May 13 - 18 in Brimfield, MA. I found my handmade guide to Brimfield from '07, it's this system I create and follow each year because it keeps me on track since this is one gigantic show. I need to get started on the '08 version for next month's visit. Why do I bother? At one time, I would attend huge fleas without a game plan and always purchased things I didn't need, that didn't work in my home (size, color, etc.), or none of the above -- I left empty handed because I felt overwhelmed with options so I didn't buy a single thing. Then I got smart and started making these little guides for myself so I could chart my course. Here's what I do:

Pack supplies: I carry in a large tote some sunscreen, bottled water, a snack bar, almonds, glasses, a hat, my guide, and a smaller zippered pouch (shown above) that holds scissors, pens, pencils, a tiny notebook, a few of my business cards, a few spare ziploc bags (for storing parts that may come with a piece, like screws), measuring tape, fabric swatches I'm looking to match, and paint swatches.) In my car, I have rope and a few screwdrivers just in case. I also bring with me measurements of current spaces I'm looking to fill. Let's say I need a dresser and I have a very specific place for it. I will measure the space in my home and note it so when I find something I want at the flea market, I can measure it to see if it will fit.

Make a binder: Grab a bunch of clear page inserts and instead of putting them in a binder, tie them together with ribbon (make knots). I do this because it's much lighter to carry around in my tote and I can roll it up if I need to. In it, I carry fabric swatches, paint swatches, floor plans, measurements, clippings from magazines of things I'm looking for, etc. All of this keeps my EYE ON THE BALL. I don't get overwhelmed or confused. I know the exact red I'm looking for, or the pattern I'm trying to find, etc. There's no guess work. I make purchases that I'm confident in thanks to my handy guide.

Chart your course. I download the various maps from the Brimfield website and highlight the vendors that I want to visit, writing down their name, booth number, and quick notes (what they sell, contact name, etc.). I number them in order of importance so I'm sure not to miss the vendors that I really want to see. You can use their database online to search for vendors that carry what you're looking for. Let's say you're into McCoy. Click here, search for McCoy under Items Exhibited, click Search and you'll see that two vendors carry McCoy items along with their location. Look for them on your map and highlight their booths so once you arrive, you know where to look first. I also note the time that the show begins, as the flea market contains several fields each with their own opening times.

Tip: Don't forget a rolling cart! I regret not bringing one last year! You can buy them at a few locations on the fairgrounds for around $40 but they sell out quite fast so bring your own if you can.

Have fun at the fleas this Spring/Summer! Oh and if you're looking for some flea market inspiration, the Raised in Cotton blog and the Junk Market Girls website are great places to start. And here's a handy guide I wrote on How To Find Flea Markets and Indie Craft Fairs.

(images from holly becker for decor8)