How to Set Up a Swap Meet Vendor Booth

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You’ve decided to do some serious cleaning and purging and are ready to rent a booth at a swap meet, or perhaps you’re thinking of becoming a regular presence at a local swap meet as a side hustle. Regardless, there are certain dos and don’ts that can help you attract lookers. Once you’ve caught people's attention, you can turn them into buyers.

First Things First

There are a few basic guidelines to follow for optimizing your booth space. They apply whether your booth is at an indoor or outdoor swap meet and regardless of what you’re selling.

  • Price everything so that prices are easily visible. Nothing is a bigger turn off to potential buyers than having to ask you the price on everything they pick up. In fact, after checking out a couple of things and finding no prices, people often walk away.
  • Play to the holidays. There’s one in nearly every month of the year. Your booth decor should acknowledge it. For example, if the swap meet is in late June or early July, be sure to have some flags and/or red, white and blue decorations. 
  • Have a place for yourself to sit that is completely out of the way of customers. You don’t want to make people have to squeeze around you or ask you to move.
  • If the venue will allow it, place a few large, heavy items outside of your booth. It can draw in customers, and it doesn’t even have to be something you’re selling. An item that will cause people to pause and even strike up a conversation with you is what you want.

Placing and Grouping

The price of your items should have no bearing on where you put them in your booth. However, their functionality or relatability should. For example, let’s say you’re selling an old mechanic’s tool chest. Put hubcaps near it, not jewelry. Jewelry and hats or scarves should be near one another.

When grouping items, you should also pay attention to trends. When shabby chic was all the rage, you’d put your repurposed wrought iron gate (now a headboard) near the chenille pillow shams and vintage Doc Marten shoes.

Use your booth to its fullest. Put big items on the ground or floor, medium and small items on tables or shelves and small and lightweight items hanging from the top. Never cram so much into your booth that it’s hard to maneuver inside it. You want people to see at a glance that there’s plenty of space to walk around inside the booth.

Colors and Textures

Have something colorful and living on display. A plant or big bouquet of sunflowers at the entrance to your booth makes it look more attractive and inviting. Try to have one solid black item of significant size viewable from outside of the booth to ground your display.

If you’re selling clothing, don’t group it by color or style, just size. Mixing up colors and styles makes people looking at the clothes go through them more carefully. In doing so, they might just find something else they like that they would have otherwise overlooked.

Lighting and Sound

If your swap meet is indoors, make sure you have good lighting. You might even consider having music playing but at a low volume. It should be low enough that you can only hear it when you’re in the booth. Also, the music should be appropriate for your venue.

If your swap meet is in Texas, for example, play country music. If it’s in Connecticut, play classical music. This may be a generalization, but you get the idea. Just play the kind of music you think will make your customers comfortable.

Music at an outdoor swap meet is not important. There’s usually enough going on at outdoor swap meets that your music will just blend in with the cacophony of sounds or be swept away by the breeze.

Don’t Forget Yourself

Don’t neglect outfitting yourself as if you belong in your booth. If you’re selling Western art and antique spurs, have boots and a cowboy hat to wear. If you’re selling any articles of clothing, be sure to wear something from your inventory. Most importantly, don’t forget a big friendly smile.

References

About the Author

LeDona Withaar has over 20 years’ experience as a securities industry professional and finance manager. She was an auditor for the National Association of Securities Dealers, a compliance manager for UNX, Inc. and a securities compliance specialist at Capital Group. She has an MBA from Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts and a BA from Mills College in Oakland, California. She has done volunteer work in corporate development for nonprofit organizations such as the Boston Symphony Orchestra. She currently owns and operates her own small business. In addition to writing for PocketSense, she writes for Bizfluent, Budgeting the Nest, Legal Beagle, PocketSense and Zacks.

Photo Credits

  • Alex McGuffie/iStock/Getty Images