Musicians enthralling the crowds in corner, delicious dishes being served up in another and a hall filled with stalls of all things shiny, while enthusiastic customers move from one stall to another gleaming at the products, bargaining for the right price. That’s the usual scene at a flea market. An already popular concept abroad, flea markets are the new trend in India.
From big designers to a creatively wacky entrepreneur, everyone finds a space in these flea markets. Increasingly, these flea markets are attracting lifestyle start-ups as it gives them a space to display their products and reach out to the audience.
Starting off with Flea Markets
As an entrepreneur, especially in the lifestyle sector, investing in an offline or online shop requires a lot of money. Investments aside, it’s also a risk factor. So, participating in these flea markets helps entrepreneurs get a taste of their business without shelling out a lot of cash.
For Saakshi Vij, founder of Saasud creatives opc pvt ltd., the flea markets were an easy yet efficient way of starting up. “I started off by taking part in small flea markets in Mumbai. These would be banquet halls in residential colonies. The organisers would then advertise and people from the area would visit the flea market,” she said.
While it worked out well for her, the clientele would always remain the same and the expectations would be to present new things every time.
“Creating new designs in a short span is not always viable and that is when I started looking at the flea markets held in malls. Even if I set up a stall in a flea market in a mall every weekend, the crowd would still be different. I still take part in flea markets held in Delhi,” she said.
A Direct Connection With the Consumer
What works out best for entrepreneurs is that at these flea markets they are able to build a rapport with the customer. Namratha Vippala, founder and CEO of DuskMiller Confectionery, has built three offline stores in prominent spots of Hyderabad, yet she doesn’t miss out on taking part in flea markets.
“When I started baking and selling during my college days, there was a flea market held in my college. That’s when people would approach asking for customised or theme cakes. For us, it is always more about the richness of the flavour than the look of the cake, we invest a lot of time in it. So, when we meet people at flea markets the best part is that we are able to offer them a sample and interact with them to explain our product. Customers at these markets are genuinely interested too. I always make sure that I’m personally present at these markets,” said Namratha.
Sangeetha Shirali, founder of Tinyshambala Terrariums, has put up her stalls of terrariums in multiple flea markets across the country and these markets challenge her creativity for the better.
"As an Entrepreneur, I opt for a flea market because it pushes me to be far more creative than my competition. Consumers walk in because they want something that they don't find on an App or the neighbourhood Mall. They do like to actually see and touch what they take home," she said.
These flea markets also help in the market research for these start-ups. "We get to sell in different places across the country, interact with locals to get their feedback, doing 'market research' is just a little walk around the campus and yes, it's lighter on the pocket as compared to opening a shop. The beauty of a flea market, is that people get to spend an entire weekend in one place where there's food, shopping and entertainment. When the event on the whole provides great atmosphere for the crowd, each and every start-up automatically benefits as well," said Shirali.
Cheaper yet Better
Sashi Nahata, entrepreneur and director of Akritti exhibitions and flea markets, has been organising such events for years now and has come across many lifestyle entrepreneurs wanting to display their products at these exhibitions. Every flea market or exhibition she organises has at least 25-30 first-time entrepreneurs choosing to reach out to the right audience through this medium. “They get to know about people’s taste and reach their customers for a much cheaper price. They get an understanding of what the market is demanding and learn how to deal with customers as well. This helps them improve their product over time as well. The turnout at such flea markets is also great, so it works out well for the entrepreneur,” said Sashi.