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It's a Swapping Success!

Swap meets give entrepreneurs a low-cost way to break into retail.

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This story appears in the June 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Want to get started in the retail business? Check out your local flea market or swap meet as an inexpensive yet effective point of entry. "It's a good way for people to get into business," says Chuck Pretto, president of the National Flea Market Association , which estimates there are currently between 2,500 and 3,000 weekly flea markets across the nation, bringing in about $5 billion in annual sales.

The first step, says Pretto, is to research your local flea market. Shop the market to get a feel for the customers, the booth design/setup and the kinds of products that sell well, paying special attention to vendors in your same category. Says Pretto, "[Determine] who your competition is, and then you can make [your offering] a bit different or a bit better." In terms of booth design, "Don't just lay your merchandise on tables and on the ground," he says. Design a display that is both welcoming and attractive to customers.

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