Selling your treasures at a flea market | May 13, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Real Estate - May 13, 2011

Selling your treasures at a flea market

With a little planning, you can get rid of clutter and have fun

by Kit Davey

Want to improve the appearance of your home, make money and have fun all at the same time? Sell your old treasures at a flea market.

By selling your castoffs at the flea market you will:

* Let go of clutter and create visual peace in your home.

* Get more organized.

* Make money.

* Recycle instead of using up limited landfill space.

* Donate leftovers to charity, and

* Have fun!

Selling at "Las Pulgas" has advantages over holding a garage sale because:

* It costs less. Booth rentals run from $20 to $30, whereas a small ad in the paper can cost from $20 to $45 (although Craigslist is free).

* You don't have to put up and take down signs.

* You don't annoy the neighbors.

* You have guaranteed foot traffic.

Getting ready

To get the most out of your sale it helps to plan ahead.

* Start by picking a date one or two months away. Call your chosen flea market office at least a month in advance and ask for registration instructions. Carefully follow their procedures or you may miss out on a great selling opportunity

* Clear a spot in your garage to store items you'll sell. You may want to set up boxes in which to place things by type (books, tapes, clothing, etc.) or by price (10 cents, 25 cents, $1 and FREE, PLEASE TAKE).

* Begin purging your entire home. Remember: Your goal is to eliminate clutter and to make money! Pick a room at one end of your house. Go through every drawer, shelf and cabinet, pick up each of your possessions and decide whether or not you'll keep it. A hint: If you haven't used it in more than a year, you're keeping it out of guilt, you don't like it or it doesn't fit — ditch it! Don't overfill your boxes and bags; make sure they're easy to stack and lift.

* You can price items as you're boxing them, but if you're familiar with flea-market prices, save yourself some time and leave your offerings unmarked. Make up the prices at the sale when asked, and mark only those things on which you have a high or firm price.

* Visit one or two flea markets to see how things are priced and to see how others set up their booths.

* Decide how you are going to set up your "store." You are typically allowed two parking spaces in which to display your goods. Common layouts include a u-shaped arrangement of folding tables or several tables lined up at the outer edge of the space. It's OK to throw a blanket on the ground and sit items on it, but most flea marketers don't like to bend over to examine things. Take sufficient card tables or improvise by laying an old door or several boards across a few stacked boxes.

* Invite a friend or family member. You can take turns visiting the rest room and checking out what other vendors have to offer.

* Plan on borrowing a truck from a friend, or make sure your stuff fits in your car.

* Call your local charity and arrange for a pick-up as soon as possible after the sale.

The day before the sale

* Gather old grocery and plastic bags in which to wrap items you have sold.

* Pick up $25 to $50 in change at your bank or grocery store, and place in a fanny pack.

* Load up your vehicle. Don't wait until the day of the sale!

* Fill a water jug and prepare snacks.

* Pack sunscreen, tape, pens, a hat, sunglasses, a beach umbrella and chairs.

* Get a good night's sleep. You're going to need a lot of energy.

The day of the sale

* Dress in layers. Put on your change-filled fanny pack and locate your booth registration forms.

* Eat a good breakfast and drink lots of fluids. Remember your snacks.

* Allow yourself plenty of time to arrive before your market's deadline. If you arrive late, your space will be given away.

* You'll need about an hour to set up. You probably won't have enough space to keep your car with you, so help your booth-mate unload and then guard her things as she parks. When she returns she can help you in the same way. Early birds may swarm you as you unload. If you find this unnerving, place a heavy blanket over your boxes and say forcefully: "We're not set up, please come back at 8."

* Expect to haggle. You're there to sell, so don't let your pride get in the way.


Local flea markets

Capitol Flea Market

3630 Hillcap Ave. (Capitol Drive-In), San Jose


Hours: Wed. and Fri. 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Thurs., Sat.-Sun.: 6:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

De Anza College Flea Market

21250 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino


Hours: First Sat. of each month, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Palo Alto High School Flea Market

50 Embarcadero Road, Palo Alto


Hours: Second Sat. of each month, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Kit Davey, Allied Member, ASID, specializes in re-design, staging, design consulting and professional organizing. E-mail her at, call her at 650-367-7370, or visit her website at


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