Flea marketing and the RV lifestyle are extremely compatible. For the first several years that we were full-timers, we worked as flea market vendors. We sold what we termed dignified merchandise.
Obtaining merchandise is a primary consideration for vendors. Auctions are our favorite place at which to stock up on used items. Garage sales are a possibility, but do not yield a significant quantity of merchandise for the amount of time and gas spent driving looking for unfamiliar addresses, and we often find their prices to be higher than what we could resell the items for ourselves. People with yard or estate sale belongings, which they want to get rid of without the hassle of the sale, sometimes approach us at markets and these deals can be lucrative, providing a large quantity of varied items for a reasonable price. Spreading the word that we are looking to buy sometimes brings other vendors with excess inventory; this too, can be a good source of additional merchandise.
New merchandise is usually ordered through catalogs or picked up directly at the wholesale houses. Many flea market offices have monthly publications that provide lists of wholesalers and advertisements describing their products. We have occasionally purchased handmade items directly from the artists and craftspeople and have also made some things ourselves to sell. Here again, other dealers may have an excess and may be willing to wholesale bulk quantities of their surplus.
Our selection of merchandise changes from weekend to weekend. Other vendors specialize in one line, which they order regularly from a single supplier.
Being mobile has several advantages when it comes to securing merchandise. Items that may not sell well in one area may sell great a couple of states over; these items may be picked up cheaply at auctions. A market may be saturated with a certain product, to the point where no one is selling much of it, and a dealer with a stockpile of it may be more than happy to trade it for stock you have that is new to his market. When traveling, it is possible to stop at wholesalers across the country, to pick up merchandise, thus saving on shipping charges and allowing you to obtain items that are not available from the catalog.
This is the first page of a three part article I wrote back when we were flea marketing full-time and RVing full-time.