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Flea Day-After: Long Beach

December 16, 2013

Fortunes turn for Dustin

Yesterday was the Long Beach flea market and, as you recall, I was one of three garden bloggers who joined forces to sell there. We shared a stall and had a variety of wares on offer, including handmade decorative items for both inside and out, plants, miscellany, and artwork. Our experience was positive overall and we’re even thinking about doing it again in the spring. And, as on most days-after, I have thoughts that might be helpful should you find yourself in a similar sitch; they follow in no particular order:


The scene, early on … we had diamonds in our eyes!

a.) The selling partner with the weakest constitution, chronic pain issues and a mate with tickets to the ballet, is not allowed to contribute any item he can’t carry himself.

b.) Bring a hat and dress in layers. It will be hot, cool, cold, gusty, too bright and muggy. If it’s spring, add a swimsuit; there will be rain.

c.) Bring something decent to eat. The stadium concession food, while surpassing all minimum daily requirements for fats, preservatives and sodium, is not enticing. And, although I found an alternative in a nearby food truck, I also found a slice of bologna in my turkey club.

d.) If, as a seller, your stated purpose is “to get rid of things”, you should never leave your booth. Otherwise you’ll find yourself with a painted-but-attractively-chipped European bathtub that needs both transportation and a convincing cover story that explains your sudden ownership of it.

e.) It’s never a good idea to link one’s self-worth to items sold. The buying public is notoriously fickle, even when it thinks it knows what it desires; this renders them completely unreliable. As a seller, your instincts are correct, your product worthy. They do want what you’re selling, intensely, they’ve just forgotten for the moment that they do. Also: You may be down on yourself for not selling anything one moment, only to be flying high the next because the hordes have suddenly decided that they can’t live without your concrete gems (for example). The important thing is not to gloat, Dustin (for instance)! JK, he was humble at all times.

f.) Always: Turn on the charm; sharpen your ability to conjure up a colorful backstory for even the most commonplace item; ask if you can be helpful; offer to “do better”, price wise; bring change, business cards, comfortable shoes, sunscreen; smile.

e.) Never: Sneer, no matter how insulting the offer; insult a prospective buyer’s child, dog, hat, mate; wear flip-flops, a tank top or any item of clothing featuring a political slogan; wear stilettos, a tube top, frosted lip gloss; fail to laugh about the way the day’s going (you’re gonna laugh about it later, anyway).

f.) Lastly — most importantly — sell only with people you love and admire; with people that have a great sense of humor, an artistic sensibility and that make you look good. If you do this you’ll have fun and feel good about the day no matter how well you’re doing at any given moment.

° ° ° ° °

Thanks Dustin & Denise & Mitch & Marty; I enjoyed sharing a booth with you all, and appreciate all you did on my behalf … And, thanks to everyone who came by, whether it was to buy or just say hi!

Note to Val in Costa Rica: The two large pieces I did for the flea are spoken for … but if you really like the long, narrow piece with the string-of-pearls, I’d be happy to send it to you as a Christmas gift. It’s about time I made inroads into the Latin American market! Let me know …

23 Comments leave one →
  1. December 17, 2013 1:12 am

    How did you survive overall? And, was it worth it? I have a lot of stuff to sell…I’m thinking of starting an etsy account.

    • December 17, 2013 2:01 am

      Hey, WF, thanks for asking! Well, I’m sitting here and my inner monologue is a chain of expletives I’m choosing not to express. In other words I’m hurting. To answer your question, though, yes, it was worth it. Maybe not for the money so much but for the camaraderie. You might consider selling your stuff at Bobbi’s local flea market next month … it would be a good test for you without a big outlay in time, gas or money. I’ll let you know when it’s scheduled. 😉

      • December 17, 2013 2:00 pm

        Yes, that would be great. The other problem that I have is how to price my items. I know some of my pieces are true collector items… I could probably use your help with this as well.

      • December 17, 2013 4:14 pm

        Needless to say, WF, I’d love to help!

  2. December 17, 2013 4:53 am

    How sweet. I had a blast!

  3. Vickie Perez permalink
    December 17, 2013 7:03 am

    After having done swapmeets for so many years, I can totally agree with how the J.Q. Public, his family and friends can drive one to distraction. I’ve found that I now no longer have too much patience with them. I’m well aware that the thing to do is bargin but some folks are down right insulting in thier undercutting offers. I’ve been known to throw the worst out of our space and taken the insulted item home. But just as often have sold it.
    Just depends on the day. Hopefully you’ll do better next time. With folks and sales.

    • December 17, 2013 7:17 am

      Hey, Vickie … it did seem like an “off” day. Maybe it was Christmas shopping fatigue or some other malaise, but it was dispiriting to see people pick things up, remark on how cool they were, then leave suddenly. Weird. I’ve done this flea in times past and this definitely was not typical. December-pooped, I believe!

      • December 17, 2013 2:01 pm

        I wonder if November would have been better… before all the Christmas rush of parties, etc.

      • December 17, 2013 4:16 pm

        Hard to say, so many factors to consider … the whole thing is kind of a gamble as far as whether the buyers will be out in force. January should be good, people will be over the holidays, etc.

  4. December 17, 2013 4:27 pm

    Really interested in your Flea Market experience shared. For sure one’s attitude is key to making “selling” an enjoyable day………although selling stuff IS IN MY BLOOD and it DOES make me feel high to make a sale……it’s the packing stuff up, setting it up and packing it up to go home that is the drag at shows of all kinds for me …………that’s why I LOVE front yard boutiques (quarterly garage sale weekends in my city)…….I had a nice clientle going for a while BUT then I’ve skipped a couple due to other shows, weather, etc. and also I’ve kinda slacked off doing a super presentation……and since my front yard boutiques are on garage sale Sat…….it REALLY tests the comment thing……not to mention the steal factor….we over time have had people asked if they could sell in my yard…..we have a tamale lady who has chosen our corner to park her van, kids on the parkway corner (whose parents are chefs) selling hot chocolate with homemade whipped cream in Winter, Lemonade in Summer……..doing a big Flea Market like you did is more of an undertaking than I’m ready for………and with your back I have no idea how you managed such a thing…….. just rambling this morning…….need coffee…..loved the post…thanks much xo

    • December 17, 2013 4:35 pm

      Well, having been to one of your awesome sales and seen the level of enthusiasm it generated, I consider you an expert, Guida! Believe me, I could not have done this sale without the help of my cohorts: they did EVERYTHING … I didn’t lift a finger and I very literally could not have done it without them. They’re all great friends and I’m exceedingly grateful. I love the tamale lady story, I was tasting that hot chocolate as I read it. Not so nice was reading that people stole items; I HATE that sort of thing, brings out my innate misanthropy!

      • December 22, 2013 1:15 pm

        Not to dwell on the negative but I recall one older lady who was telling me that something I had priced at a couple bucks was TOO HIGH, she was practically arguing with me about it….. I ended up telling her It was my stuff, take it or leave it!! ha!

      • December 22, 2013 3:41 pm

        Ha! I believe I’ve met that same lady at every sale I’ve been a part of, Guida … After a while you just expect the same stock characters to show up: The Crabby Ol’ Skinflint’s a given. 😉

  5. December 17, 2013 4:55 pm

    For my first flea, it was more fun than I expected but way more work, as Guida commented. I knew you were hurting before it started, so I can only imagine how you’re feeling now. As far as helping, your experience, expertise, and help with pricing were invaluable! Some people provide the brawn, some provide the brains, and I’m solidly in the former category! Thanks again, Reuben.

    • December 17, 2013 5:10 pm

      Denise, I would’ve thought you were a seasoned expert from the look of the stall, it was gorgeous! Your sense of organization was awesome and I envy that skill. All of you — especially Marty — made it possible for me to participate. I can’t thank you all enough!

  6. December 18, 2013 7:02 pm

    Oh how I wish I could have been there with a uhaul!

  7. December 19, 2013 8:29 pm

    It was good to meet you in person, Reuben. I’m afraid my friends and I were on complete overload by the time we finally found your booth as we were heading for the exit. Your art panels are wonderful – my friend is still telling people about them. Best wishes with your next event and I hope you recover from this one quickly!

    • December 19, 2013 8:56 pm

      Kris, hi … it was terrific to you meet you and your friends! Thanks for the good wishes; needless to say we’ll post when we do the flea again.

  8. vrubida permalink
    December 23, 2013 1:56 pm

    REUBEN….Are you kidding me!!! I wolud love to have it. Would you email me as to how we can do it.
    Sounds like you had a good time and even got a piece of bologna no charge in your turkey club. Are you lucky or what. lol I really wish I could have been there.


  1. flea market 101 « A Growing Obsession

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