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Sell Your Product at a Consumer Show or Swap Meet

If you have a product or service to sell, a great way to make some extra money is to rent a booth at a local consumer show or swap meet. Many people have a product, craft, or service that they would like to sell, but do not want to devote the time or money renting a full-time retail space.

Renting a day space at a swap meet or a consumer show is a great way to sell your product or service, and also to see if there is enough interest to quit your day job and try it full time. A swap meet, or flea market, is typically a weekend event that consumers come to in order to see a variety of products. These people are typically very motivated to buy and will often impulse shop.

A consumer show is typically organized by a product category. For example, I recently rented a booth at a hunting⁄fishing show to sell food vacuum sealer bags, rolls, and machines. A consumer show may be a better place to sell a product that is specific to a particular type of industry or hobby. A swap meet is great for general consumer products.

Regardless of the show you attend, you must have an attractive space that will draw potential customers in. If you do not look reliable and legitimate, then they will go elsewhere. A large sign advertising your business is a must. People will not stop if they do not know what you are selling. I purchased a custom vinyl banner online for around fifty dollars. I highly recommend vinyl banners; they are weather-resistant, and they easily roll up for storage.

You must also have some tables to demonstrate or display your products. Most consumer shows and swap meets can refer you to a furniture rental company if you don't own suitable furniture. I have found that draped tables are the best way to go, because you can store product under the table, and it can't be seen from the outside of the booth. All rental companies have draped tables available.

Depending on your product, it is a great idea to have a few available for the customer to examine prior to purchase. You should definitely take whatever you are selling out of its box and put it on your front table for display.

I sold discount FoodSaver bags at a consumer show recently. I had several bags of sealed food on my front table, along with several vacuum sealing machines. If you have a variety of products, it is important to display all of them. Rent several tables for your booth, so you can show all of your wares.

If your product is something that needs to be tried on, like clothes or shoes, make sure that you have a private dressing area. This can be accomplished by purchasing wire mesh walls at a home improvement store, like Home Depot, and attaching material to three sides and a drape across the entrance.

If you can have live demonstrations of your product, I highly recommend it. It is a great way to draw people in. I also sell commercial chamber vacuum sealing machines and bags. I drew in several people by vacuum sealing bright red sports drink in a vacuum sealing bag. People love to be entertained, and even someone who might not have to come to buy your product may buy it if they see a live demonstration. Be sure to be cheerful and friendly, and to answer all questions patiently and thoroughly.

Another important decision for you to make is how you will accept payment for your products. Do you want to accept credit cards and personal checks, along with cash? I opened a merchant account, so I could accept credit cards, because I've learned that most people want to pay that way. Most venues have wifi that you can purchase by the day, so you can use your computer to get their credit card information. I personally do not accept checks from customers.

Because swap meets and consumer shows are typically on the weekend, there is no way to verify with the customer's bank whether or not there are sufficient funds to cover their purchase. If you offer cash or credit card payment, the vast majority of people will be able to purchase from you. Also, most venues offer ATM machines, so a potential customer has access to cash that way as well.

Last but not least, be sure to have the basics to keep your booth running smoothly. If you are accepting credit cards and need your computer, be sure you have access to an electrical outlet and bring extension cords to plug your computer into. Selling your product or advertising your service at a weekend swap meet or outdoor show is an inexpensive way to earn some extra money and to see if there is a potential for future success.


In addition to being the mother of three busy sons, Lisa also owns and operates Vacuum Sealers Unlimited, a recognized leader in the vacuum sealing industry. Vacuum Sealers Unlimited sells FoodSaver bags and rolls and Seal a Meal bags and rolls for up to 60 percent off retail.

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