Monday, August 11, 2014

Taking it outside: Parking Lot Flea Markets

In the dog days of August, almost everything seems to take too much effort. But in Beaverton, OR, the owners of Curiosities Vintage are going the extra mile by planning the Beaverton Flea Market this Saturday, August 16, from 10-4. Knowing they'll draw folks who can't resist a flea market, Jenn and Travis at Curiosities are offering an extra incentive. They've got a big parking lot, and they know how to use it! From the looks of vendor signups, they're looking forward to the biggest flea market yet, with more than 50 sellers. Here's a video showing a recent one, just to give an idea. The booths wrap around the store entrance, for security and (of course!) to offer shelter and more shopping options inside!

A big parking lot has so much potential beyond a place to park cars! Magnolia Antiques Home & Interiors in Carmichael, CA puts on three annual Saturday outdoor marketplaces (Sept. 20, 8am-3pm, is their next one), renting space for $30 along a shady line of big trees at the edge of their parking lot. They've built participation up to 70 vendors. And of course shoppers are naturally going to wander into the air-conditioned store as well to cool off and do a bit more browsing. How can they resist?

Another antique store that has Peddlers Parking Lot Sales the first Saturday of every month (weather permitting) is The Antique Warehouse in Salida (just north of Modesto, CA). Here's a shot of their August 5 event, which is held in a more secure parking lot behind the store. You'll notice they have a vendor selling pizza and hot dogs. Setup starts at 6am with the sale officially beginning at 8, and vendors can download an application online at their website. Check it out at their next one, September 6.

Make no mistake, putting on a parking lot sale/outdoor market/peddler's fair is a lot of work, both for the store owners and the vendors! Setup usually starts in the early morning, and the work goes on until late afternoon with cleanup. The best sales are those that have vetted vendors' stock to ensure quality displays. But often flea market shoppers will also discover the store for the first time, and just might come back some quieter day. If it's planned well, and approached with a sense of fun and enough workers to cover all the bases, a parking lot sale can do a lot to stimulate new business.