Flea Market Supplies and a Bit on the Lifestyle of Vending While Full-time RVing

Flea market sale days require supplies. It is necessary to have coins and small bills to use in making change. Have a cash box, money apron, fanny bag, or some secure place to put sale proceeds.

Although some vendors get by without them, customers and neighboring vendors appreciate it if you have plastic or paper bags for your customer’s purchases. Recycling grocery bags is a popular option. New bags can be bought from grocery stores and from supplier wholesale companies.

When selling breakable items, have plenty of newspapers or paper bags to individually wrap items. Sales receipts may be necessary in some areas or for some types of merchandise. Accepting credit cards requires the appropriate charge slips and equipment necessary to verify accounts and process the charges.

The market sometimes provides tables with the booth. Sometimes they are available at an extra charge. Sometimes vendors must furnish tables if they choose to use them. When working outdoor markets, tarps are handy for protecting merchandise from rain and to use for covering merchandise at the end of the day.

Permits and licenses may be required. It is common to need a sale tax permit, which may be obtained from the state’s department of revenue and sometimes from the flea market management. A business license may also be necessary. Selling food normally requires a health inspection and accompanying certificates. The requirements vary with each locale, so check with the market management and city officials before setting up for business.

In addition to flea markets, other sales vending opportunities exist for RVers who want to spend time outdoors. Fairs and carnivals are can be very lucrative. RV shows and rallies are natural places for RVers to sell their wares. Community days, fall farm days, special interest hobby shows, and numerous other special events usually have a sales area. The basics of doing business at these events are similar to flea marketing, although it is more likely that reservations are required. It is also more likely that they have restrictions, such as to the type of merchandise that may be sold and the specific selling hours.

We thrive on the freedom and independence flea marketing provides us. However, while there are few rules, there are fewer guarantees. One weekend sales may be great; the next we may be completely rained out.

Many vendors become family in much the same way RVers in clubs do. We choose markets that allow us to stay on the grounds with our trailer (and pets). Although the facilities may not be the fanciest, our overnight fees/campground costs are next to nothing.

An added bonus for us is that many of the events we sell at are historical or mechanical in nature and those are both strong interest areas for Bob. Obtaining merchandise, processing it for sale, setting up, selling, tearing down, packing, doing bookwork, etc. are all part of the job.

And, a job it is. It can be a lot of hard work. But, it is a job that allows us to work together pursuing our personal interests while maintaining a lifestyle that is reasonably free of tight time schedules and arbitrary rules.


This is the third part of an article I wrote about flea market vending when we were selling at markets and swap meets, or shows of some kind, most every weekend.

Go to part one of this article.

Go to part two of this article.

Read more articles about RVers working as flea market and swap meet vendors.

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