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Advice on selling stuff

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
I know there are some retailers on this forum, and I'd appreciate any advice or experience they could share. My friend has bought some excess inventory from different sources, and I've agreed to help him sell them at the swap meet. Unfortunately, he didn't realize the importance of reserving sundays and he also ended up getting a spot at the worst local swap meet. Last weekend, after 9 hrs, we ended up breaking even. This weekend, we're going to need a game plan formulated. I've already planned out changes to how we displayed the items. We've got some nice fancy metal stands to display the items, where I'm going to display all the items with the highest mark up on eye level and anything that might appeal to children on the bottom level. And, I'm going to try to put all the best sellers or anything visually interesting at the entrance to try to attract people. But, we're arguing about the pricing. Is there a pyschological barrier that people don't want to exceed in terms of price. For example, last week, we tried to sell some items for $20 that I feel we should have tried to sell for 19.99 or just 19. Of course, most of the items are much cheaper than that, but is there also a barrier price on lower items as well? Then, there's the issue of people haggling. Do we price the item at say $20, when we expect people to haggle it down to 19. Or, will the listed price discourage people from wanting to buy it if they are willing to pay only 19? And, what does everybody do with the issue of storing excess inventory. I calculated it, and when we need to start renting space, we'll start losing point at that point. And, is there any way to get around the sales tax we pay or all the other taxes, other than underreporting sales. I just find it hard to believe to believe the need to pay sales tax for items sold at the swap meet.
post #2 of 3
I don't have much direct experience with swap meets or displaying goods, but here's what I do know. First, if things are priced too low, people think they are worthless and won't buy them. Weird I know, but I know of real life cases of this happening. It may apply more to things like art because that was the product in the case in point. No one would buy the pots at $10 because they thought there must be something wrong with them or they were cheap. When the price was raised to $30, they flew out the door, or booth as the case may be. If the items you're selling (what are they? you don't say) have well known street value, try setting your prices above that by a little bit to allow for haggle room. You might consider a loss leader if you have something to use for that- refer to that recent thread. Using non round numbers for prices (19, not 19.99) is a good idea in my case. If everything is $5 or $10 or $20, I wonder whether the item I'm holding was rounded up $3. It could be just me. Also, use whole dollar amounts with tax included to avoid making change if possible. I don't know how to encourage haggling, or whether you just expect it. Some people will never try it, and putting a "prices negotiable" or "make an offer" sign up makes things look like you priced them unrealistically. So, set the prices a little higher than "street value" if they are a little rare, or a little below if readily available. As for taxes, (this is all for WA, I don't know how yours work) if you have a resale license and you didn't pay sales tax on the item, and you are selling it through your business, you have to charge sales tax and report the sale, and also pay any applicable B&O tax. If you already paid sales tax on the items you are selling, you charge it again, but you write it off in your tax return and keep it. That pays for your mistake earlier in paying for it in the first place. Your state may have a minimum gross that is required before you have to start reporting. The other option is to do it all informally and not report any of it, but if people are writing checks to your company name, it's a little hard to do. HTH.
post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
J, Thanks for the feedback. It gave me some good ideas, especially about pricing. We're selling two distinct items. One set of the merchendaise are these plastic and ceramic figurines of animals, angles, cute cuddly stuff, etc... Personally, I wouldn't want them if somebody gave them to me. But, our customer base, Mexicans, seem to think they're high class items. Its strange, but I haven't seen that many hispanic entrepenuers. We're also selling the iron stands, which are actually okay in terms of style and quality. However, my partner also got stuck with a large volume of smaller stands for plants and candle holders. I told my partner we really need to concentrate on getting rid of the smaller stands and candle holders at a little above cost, and concentrate on making the profits from the stands and figurines. With regard to pricing, we ended up just putting all the different figurines into three price groups, determined soley by size. However, I got ahold of one of those pricing guns and I'm going to start putting price tags on every item. Then, I'm going to put a sign stating everything is 50% off lowest listed price. I would have used 75% off, but then I figured it might make it too hard for people to calculate this number. I think this might increase traffic, as people are always interested in a great deal. That's probably really how much everything is really being discounted, but I don't know the exact retail prices. I was also thinking of dressing up in a suit, to give the impression of quality to our items. And, it would be so ridiculous looking at the swap meet that it would also attract attention as well. But, I got so dirty last weekend, I don't want to get a suit jacket dirty. The reason I asked about the sales tax is that when my partner and I split up the profits, we first take out expenses. And, with all the taxes we need to pay, that's 25%.
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