Market Tips

Tips on how to work a market; vintage, second hand or flea. (Whether you’re buying or selling).


Dress: down, comfy and easy

  • Wearing understated clothing gives nothing away (about you or your wallet).
  • Wear comfortable clothes as you will be walking around and standing for long periods of time.
  • Light layers makes it easier to try on clothes.

Arrive very early, or very late

  • The serious market shoppers arrive extremely early to find their treasures. Arriving early means having the chance to buy the popular items (but don’t expect too many discounted deals during this time).
  • If your main goal is low cost finds then arriving in the last half an hour/hour may work to your advantage. Many vendors dramatically drop their prices near the end of the market in a bid to get those last minute sales.


Be vigilant

  • Markets are often full and fast paced; pickpocketing is common as most markets are cash based.  Wear your bag under your arm or wear a fannypack.
  • Some shoppers bring larger bags for their purchases; drop your bags off at the car or make sure that your bag has a zip.

Use that charm

  • Market culture allows for haggling. It’s always worth your time to try and bargain a price down.
  • However, it is important to know when to stop; sometimes it isn’t worth it and you do not want to come across as rude.
  • Doing a “rough round” when you arrive may help you know where to focus your energy. There are often extremely similar items at different stalls.

Double check

  • Before you walk away with your item, check for stains, missing buttons and torn seams (you may be able to get a discount).
  • However, recognize that some items can be re-purposed.


Choose the right market

  • Look at the cost of a stall, distance from your house and the terms and conditions of selling at the market.
  • It would a good idea to attend the market as a customer first, before committing to a stall. Knowing the popularity (of product and price), attractions and turn-offs as a customer is important.

The Markup

  • You need to be able to make a decent markup on the product you buy. Charity shops are great places to find vintage style items at extremely low prices; easy to add profit to. Spending so little means that you don’t face too much loss.
  • Selling friends and families items is also a way to make money. They benefit by not having to go through the effort to sell a few items. You can either receive a percentage of what is sold or markup what they have priced.

Be equipped

  • Have enough change in your float. Most people use big notes when shopping; think about your float a few days before as you won’t have time to sort it out on the day.
  • Bring some plastic/paper bags with as some customers ask for a bag to carry their purchase and you don’t want to be caught out.
  • Have a sales game plan; such as strategizing when you will offer 2 for 1s (possibly near the end).
  • Always be sure to have clean clothing (check items while you are sourcing).

Customer service

  • Don’t stalk your customers while they shop. Rather listen to what they are saying and pay attention to nonverbal cues.
  • Haggling is a part of market culture. Some enjoy this aspect and bank on it in order to make more sales, while others find it uncomfortable. If you are the latter then be prepared to shut the process down in a polite and friendly manner.

Markets are eccentric and curious places. Enjoy spending or making money.

Photography: Half & Halve

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