OCBusinessStartUp.com has compiled a list of great places to start a business. Swap Meets, Art Fairs, and Craft Fairs and Farmers Markets offer the business person a great place to start out. There is no long-term commitment, and there is not a large financial outlay. In fact, many Swapmeets will allow you to sell for a weekend before requiring that you get your business permit. But many weekend business earn full-time income at these events.
Swapmeets charge around $45 per day and go up to around $80. Farmers Market stalls go for about the same amount or 8-10% of your gross if you are selling crafts and sometimes a minimum rental fee of $25. And in many cases, they might be the best deal if you are selling a handmade craft. They are busy, and vendors have less competition than at swapmeets or art fairs. Art fairs are also a bargain when you consider the amount of traffic that will be passing by your booth. And in many cases, Farmers Markets and Art Fairs draw higher income OC families. David Parikh, publisher of OCBusinessStartUp.com, explained, “You can think of it like renting a store at Fashion Island or South Coast Plaza for less than $100/day. We had expected to see much more difference in pricing between the more popular venues and the not so popular venues. The people running these events are not money-motivated in the sense that they do not want to maximize profit for a given weekend. If that were the case, they could charge much higher rents. Some managers told us they haven’t had an opening in more than a year. And some managers were not enthusiastic about what we were doing because they feared it would generate too many calls. That’s a problem most businesses would love to have–a lot of people trying to buy your service.”
Parikh says that “the motivating factor seems to be that they want to put on a good event week after week or year after year. The key is getting into the right event–swap meet, art fair, or farmers/craft market.” He went on to explain that managers of the more popular events want you to have your permits on hand, because they don’t want to have to deal with permitting issues. OCBusinessStartUp.com has a regulatory compliance page that outlines what is needed to get started in any business. All you need to have a resale permit ready to go, and an application for a city business permit in hand. In terms of a product, the more unique the better. At swapmeets you can sell imported goods. OCBusinessStartUp.com has information on where to find whole sellers and importers. But if you can make something that’s unique that will help you get into some of the more exclusive art fairs and farmers markets. Most farmers markets have opportunities to sell crafts, and they go year round on weekdays.
You need to talk to the market managers to see what they allow in. Some insist on photographic proof that you have made the items yourself. Others can be hand-made by other people or imported craft goods. The key the market manager has to see that your product will add value to their event. If it’s something you can get at Wall Mart, you might be able to sell it at a Swap Meet, but you will not get into the other types of markets. OCBusinessStartup.com has information on where to get imported goods from India, books on making crafts yourself, prints and old photos that you can frame and sell for a big markup, and information on how to buy wholesale flowers.
Another key thing tactic is to apply early. Many of these events are booked up months in advance. We’ve added six maps of farmers markets in orange county–one map for each day of the week–so you can find one that’s Convenient for you.
Parikh also pointed out that “another advantage of these events, is that it lets you test the waters if you have a new product or importing something that Orange County has not seen before. If it does not work out, that’s okay. You have lost a few hundred dollars on rent and display materials. But if you test market your new product in a mall, you will be stuck in a twelve month lease. “