Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Hen on a Nest: Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Why did the chicken cross the road? 
To look pretty sitting on a nest!

By Guest Blogger Candice Lee Conner

If you have ever attended a venue that involves the sale of second hand goods, you've probably see a "Hen on a Nest" covered dish. Prices range from a buck to hundreds of dollars, depending on which piece you find. 

And these chickens come in every shape, size, color, and theme. You can get one that matches your table, your carnival glass collection, your kitchen, your...mood. The chickens are everywhere! 

Hen on a nest covered dishes came about as cheaper alternatives to the glass menageries that were being made in China, and later by Staffordshire and Dresden in Europe. The original maker could have been the Westmoreland Glass Company as early as the 1860s. They were often made from a more fragile milk glass than the more common thicker milk glass we see today. 

From there, the chicken craze flew the coop! During the late 1800s, several makers made these collectibles. Known names included Atterbury, Challinor, Sandwich, Central and McKee. Eventually Fenton and Anchor Hocking joined the party. And thus the reason why you can buy a hen on nest for $400 or $5. 

Feel like the hen on a nest covered dish is an item you want to collect? Watch out for replicas and married pieces. And make sure to collect the pieces you like. This is true for all antiques, but because of the sheer volume of chickens, there will always be opportunity to add another one to your collection. 

Marks: A good bit of hens aren't marked, but those that are will probably have one of the markings you will see on the links below. Look for these indicators to make sure your hen on a nest is the real thing. 

Glass Bottle Marks:

Also visit The National Milk Glass Collector's Society: 
Two chickens at Wolff's Flea Market. White one is Westmoreland.
(PHOTO: Candice Lee Conner)

Monday, October 17, 2016

Guest Blogger: Candice Conner- The Boot Pipe

By Guest Blogger Candice Lee Conner

Not so fast! A Boot Pipe?
PHOTO: Candice Lee Conner

It's not everyday you come across a metal pipe with a boot bowl. I stumbled upon it, pun intended, at Wolff's Flea Market and purchased it for my mother in law. I loved the long stem and the Chinese drawings that were pressed onto the pipe. 

What I didn't know at the time was that I had an antique opium pipe! Opium has been a popular drug throughout history, especially in China. This was until the 1950s when, through social reform, the selling and use of opium decreased significantly - which is why I believe it's rare to find pipes like these. 

This pipe, like many pipes still out there, are more for decoration these days. For the boot pipe in particular, the second stem is missing from the top - note the hole on the left. There are also lots of cracks in the boot, which indicate that this item was crudely made. However, the artwork is intact and beautiful, and the pipe cleaned up quite well with a bit of toothpaste

Antiques opium pipes may range from $20 to $200.

Read here for more information on the history of opium pipes:

Wolff's Flea Market Note:
We do not allow the sales of new/current drug paraphernalia such as pipes, rolling paper, bongs, etc. This rare antique boot pipe is an example of an item bought and sold for its collectibility, and not for use.

Guest Blogger Candice Conner: School Box

By Candice Lee Conner
Graphic Designer, Photographer and Urban Archaeologist 

When I was a kid, I loved going back to school for one reason - new school supplies. Notebooks, pencils, pens, HIGHLIGHTERS, crayons and markers. And to be perfectly honest, I still buy new supplies during the back to school sale, even though the last time I visited a classroom was in 2008. 

All of my goodies would be thrown into my school box. I eventually went for the "cooler" neon plastic style. But until fourth grade, I had a cardboard crayon box. There's just something about an actual paper box that makes you want to hold all of your school essentials and tiny treasures. 

The school box's ancestor is the noble cigar box. Kids would run to cigar establishments every summer to get a nice box for their treasures. Back then cigar boxes were free. Now...not so much. As cigar box school boxes became popular, two companies latched onto the idea and made their own kind of school box - one that literally said "School Box" so that you couldn't mistake it for anything else. The companies, General Box and the Jacksonville Ginger Box Company produced their school boxes from the 1960s to the early 1990s. 

Today, the original boxes can be found at all places vintage - including Wolff's Flea Market of course. They have also made a resurgence in the DIY community. Just type in "school box" on Pinterest, and commence  the nostalgia!

PHOTO: Candice Lee Conner

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

What is Live Edge Wood?

Do you know about this hot repurposing trend? 

Live edge wood is a vertical length slice. Sizes vary and include the natural edge, bark and beautiful imperfections. Now you can buy precut slices of Live Edge Wood at Wolff's Flea Market Palatine for your own DIY imagination. Pictured here is our first project sitting atop our reclaimed wood side table.

Cedar was sanded, scraped and coated with semi gloss to bring out the amazing natural grain. Fast and easy project! More to come! Questions? Just ask us!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Antique Oil Bottles at Wolff's Flea Market

Guest Blogger: Candice Lee Conner
Last week on my social media journey through Wolff's Flea Market, I ran across these ball jars with weird spouts. At first glance, one might think these rustic spouts atop milk bottle like bottles are for the kitchen - or so I thought. 
Antique Oil Bottles at Wolff's Flea Market Chicago

Turns out these small beauties are antique oil bottles from the Masters MFG Co. 

From Collector's Weekly, "Before disposable metal, paper, and plastic engine-oil containers became commonplace, drivers pulling into gas stations and asking for oil often had to watch and wait as the lubricant was hand pumped from a drum into a spouted glass bottle."

The attendant at the gas station would bring one of these bottles to your car and fill it for you. Sometimes, you'd get to the gas station and they would already be there waiting in racks - just like the rack that you see in the picture! 

While they may not be used to add oil to your car anymore, they are still a popular item! On eBay they sell for anywhere between $30 for just a spout, to $300 for the bottle and the spout! 

This set was spotted at Wolff's Flea Market Rosemont Allstate Arena.
Six out of the eight spouts have their original oil bottles. Two spouts are attached to Atlas Jars - also a fine antique.

Thanks Jim, Cindy and Riba for showing these to me. You can buy the entire set for a steal at $375! 

Read more about petroliana HERE and HERE

Friday, August 12, 2016


What is your policy on Offensive Merchandise?
Wolff's Flea Market has never allowed the sale of prejudicial or offensive merchandise. 
Recently, we have found the need to become more specific in what we qualify as offensive.
We realize some patrons might not agree with our decision, but as a family business, we feel confident that we are making the correct choice for our market.
  1. While we know some people consider WWII items to be collectible rather than offensive, we ban the sales and display of both current and older, historical Nazi related merchandise. This includes but is not limited to items bearing a variety of symbols and insignia that were present in WWII Nazi Germany, such as flags, ribbons, pins, jewelry, etc.
  2. We also do not allow the sales or display of new or historical Confederate merchandise (including, but not limited to flags, stickers, license plate frames, etc.)
  3. Any other type of offensive, prejudicial merchandise and symbols are not allowed.
In these instances, we have chosen to draw a line between would-be historical and offensive merchandise.

What if I see something that you ban?
Wolff's has in place a designated trained Info Team to inspect merchandise for banned items. A goal of this team is to educate vendors so that they may experience safe and successful sales in the future.

Occasionally items may be pointed out that we may have missed. We appreciate communication from clientele about these matters. We want to know so that we may intervene and educate. While our team patrols the market for hours we also appreciate the extra set of eyes. If you see something questionable, please make sure that you are directed to management in order for us to act upon your concern. We attempt to educate our employees regarding customer concerns so that they understand the process of reporting problems directly to management.

You may also call or text 847-524-9590 with a description of merchandise and a Space Number. 
Our research is ongoing, and is imperative that new sellers read our rules for the most updated information. 

How is your policy beneficial to us?
Examples of how we shape our policies to benefit our clientele:
  1. We banned hoverboards as soon as we found out about fire hazard dangers due to overheating and counterfeit batteries
  2. We do not allow baby items like high chairs, cribs, strollers, car seats etc. because of safety and recall concerns
  3. We do not allow the sales or advertising of animals for sale
  4. Those of you familiar with us already know our powerful patrol program of Prevention, Intervention, Education (PIE) related to the sales of counterfeit merchandise
We consider our Merchandise Rules to be very detailed but also reserve the right to ban any merchandise that we deem unacceptable.

To read more on this topic, click on the following links:

Monday, July 25, 2016



ROSEMONT: Food and Beverages are available at several booths around the market

Sorry, due to local regulations, pets are not allowed at either of our markets. Service animals welcome.

If You Love It
Buy it before it’s gone! But remember, most purchases are final. Be a “Nice Shopper” If someone is looking at something you are interested in, please wait off to the side until it is put down. Then go and look at it.

Finding Your Way Around
Make sure to walk the entire Market. You will find new merchandise, garage sale, antiques and collectibles down each and every aisle. And remember, if you walk by every booth (both sides of the aisle), you have walked over three miles on some days!

When buying new merchandise, make sure the vendor will give you a replacement or a refund if it's defective. If you have trouble when returning or exchanging an item, contact a Wolff’s Supervisor. Most garage sale, antique and collectible merchandise is usually sold "as is".

Check Electrical Items Before Leaving
Electrical outlets are located near the Food Area at the SW corner of the Arena. You can test your electrical item(s) to see if they are in proper working order.

When to Haggle and When to Not
Most garage sale vendors will probably come down a little in their price. Sellers of new merchandise will probably stick with the posted price. When in doubt, ask anyway-there's no harm done. Vendors are people too; please don’t be rude, as politeness will help you negotiate. Sometimes buying in volume allows for a discounted price.

Plan Ahead if Buying a Large Item
Think about how you're going to get larger items home. Most Wolff's sellers don't deliver, although some may have a warehouse where you can pick up your purchase at a later time. Bring a tape measure to help you figure out if your purchase fits into your vehicle or the space where you plan to place it in your home.

When shopping for garage sale items or even new merchandise, make sure you look behind and under what is displayed. You may find hidden treasures!
Have a Good Idea of What You Want But Be Open to Surprises
If you have limited time, know just what you are looking for. Chances are you'll find it! Even though you may have something specific in mind, if you are alert, you may be surprised by an unexpected find!

Although some vendors may accept credit cards, most sellers are "cash and carry". Small bills will be helpful in paying for items as well as haggling. An ATM is available inside the building at both of our locations.

Wear the Right Clothes (Watch the Weather)
Comfortable clothing and walking shoes are a must when shopping the seemingly endless rows of bargains at Wolff's. You should also consider wearing a hat as protection from the sun and applying sunscreen. Light clothing on warm days and sweatshirts or windbreakers on cool days will also make your shopping experience more pleasant.

Arrive Early

By arriving early you can take advantage of the first offerings and larger selections available at garage sale, antiques / collectibles and new merchandise booths. Also, you will have more time to browse, compare prices and merchandise.


Seller's Rules & Tips

We encourage our vendors to post their items on social media: facebook page, Buy, Sell, Trade Group  & craigslist. These listings are FREE!  We love this concept because buyers and sellers are able to meet in a neutral location at the market (must have a selling space-no parking lot sales). This also draws new customers to the entire market and helps everyone! Many vendors have had success with social media. Customers have come from as far as Iowa to purchase their items! For more advanced posters, please "tag" your photos & posts with #wolffsfleamarket and @wolffsfleamarket. If you don't know what this means, please disregard!

Occasionally the Rosemont market may need to close early due to a stadium event. We continue to have a steady customer flow on these days because we are an "early shopper market". The majority of shoppers attend before 11am. Don't miss out! See Rosemont Schedule on home page for early closings. We will post this in advance and require vendors to vacate the lot by a specified time. 

Wolff's Flea Market is vigilant about inspecting merchandise at every booth, every week. If we talked you last week, or 2 weeks ago, we may talk to you again about the same thing or different items you are selling. Please realize we mean no disrespect to you, nor are we singling you out from among other vendors. It is our job to ensure that the merchandise offered at Wolff's Flea Market is in accordance to our rules, Rosemont rules, and state and federal laws. So, if you see a staff person lingering over an item on your table, or if you are questioned about your merchandise, do not take offense. We try to speak respectfully to you, and hope you can return the favor. When in doubt, we may ask you to remove a certain type of merchandise.

Please clean your selling space and remove and take with you ALL unsold merchandise and large trash. Dumpsters are available for reasonable trash only. Wolff's does not have facilities to dispose of large items, unsold merchandise or excess garbage. Violators will be charged clean-up expenses and repeat offenders may not be able to sell with us in the future.

PLEASE REFER TO MERCHANDISE RULES for most current information. Call 847-524-9590 with questions. Wolff's Flea Market strictly regulates the type of merchandise being sold and follows local and federal laws and regulations to maintain a safe, family friendly environment. In short, no COUNTERFEIT, ILLEGAL, BABY FURNITURE, CERTAIN SERVICES, REGULATED ITEMS or CONCESSION FOOD can be sold. Please call 847-524-9590 to inquire about participating in Food Trucks at the Flea. Staff and management reserve the right to inspect merchandise, deem it as inappropriate and disallow it. Vendors will be directed to immediately and permanently remove restricted items. This means putting it AWAY, out of sight of the public. Your information may be recorded and a warning slip issued. If repeat offenses occur, vendor may not be allowed to sell with us in the future.

We have many employees patrolling our market. Most are wearing yellow or green shirts. Some aren’t by design to watch over the market without being seen. We have several police officers patrolling as well. Please seek out any of these individuals with any problems you may have. Secure and watch your valuables. Keep your eyes on your booth. Unfortunately, there are shoplifters here just as at any store. Some sellers ask a neighboring vendor to watch their table if they find it necessary to leave their booth.

Please bring a sturdy trash bag(s). While we have clean up staff, their job is made easier if you are able to secure all of your garbage (boxes, paper, etc.) and keep it in your trash bag. Bags can be thrown away with a small amount of broken down boxes at the southwest corner of the Arena. You are not allowed to leave unsold merchandise. We continually walk the market watching for those breaking this rule. You will be fined (see vendor permit) and will not be allowed to sell with us in the future if this occurs.

Some vendors decide to leave early. We discourage this for several reasons. We don’t like vehicles driving through crowded aisles and customer flow is steady from when we open to when we close. You’ll be missing lots of sales!

Our vendors are encouraged to be courteous to shoppers. Treat them as you would like to be treated. Refrain from using profane language. You may be asked to leave the market if customer relation issues occur. Please contact management for assistance if necessary,

You may want to consider posting a return policy, especially if you sell anything other than garage sale, antiques or collectible items. Our sellers are strongly encouraged to stand behind their products and representations.

Bring price stickers, paper (for signs), markers, pens and tape. Keep in mind that your customers may want to haggle. This is a normal and fun aspect of Flea Marketing. Please do not get upset if you are offered a lower price, as again, this is customary at times. You have the choice to accept, decline, or counter-offer. Price items individually, by the box (e.g. $1 box), or not at all. It is up to you how you want to price your merchandise and customer opinion varies as to what they prefer.

Have grocery bags and newspapers/bubble wrap/tissue paper for wrapping fragile items. Boxes can be helpful for larger or multiple purchases.

Please bring plenty of water, sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, etc. On cooler days, dress in layers.

Our location has a tendency to be windy. It is REQUIRED that you have minimum 40 pounds to weigh down each corner of your canopy or umbrella. If you do not bring weights, we may ask you to remove your canopy. We have a limited number of weights for rent. $2 per 40 pound weight plus a refundable $20 deposit. Please ask an employee about renting weights on the day of the market. Securing or tying your tent to a table leg or merchandise does not count for weight. You may tie the rear legs to your vehicle, but still need to weigh down the front legs. 

We recommend $10 in quarters, singles and five dollar bills. You may lose a sale if you don’t have change. Watch your money. Keep it locked in your car, but don’t lock your keys in the car! Remember, if you listen to your car radio all day, you’re likely to have a dead battery at the end of the day. ATMs are located at both markets for your shoppers' convenience.

Many sales can be made between vendors or by Early Bird Shoppers before our 6am opening time. These shoppers may be designers, decorators, or collectors. They may have a tendency to try and look through your unpacked boxes. If this is not what you want – please simply ask them to move to the front of your tables. However, you can do well with early sales, so try to be flexible at the flea. Early Bird entry fee is $4 prior to 6am.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

MEET OUR STAFF: The People of Wolff's Flea Market

By Guest Blogger Candice Lee Conner
All Photos by Candice Lee Conner
Thank you Candice for introducing the friendly faces of Wolff's Flea Market!

It takes a lot to run a flea market with over 700 vendors almost every Sunday. Wolff's Flea Market has been running their market smoothly for 25 years, because of the folks behind the scenes. This past Sunday, I talked to Wolff's cashiers. 

Meet the Cashiers!

Mary Ellen, Supervisor
Makes sure vendors pay up
Saves the day when cashiers need a break
Been at Wolff's for 12 years

Darlene, Cashier Supervisor
16th year at Wolff's
When not at Wolff's she's working O'Hare Airport
Rollerskating, playing volleyball on Mondays with seniors
Working events at the Allstate Arena
And she was looking at a unicycle - to buy - whilst we were talking!
Joanie, Cashier
Daughter is getting married very soon
During the week, Joanie is a full time Substitute Teacher
Been at Wolff's for 6 years

Hilda, Cashier
Been at Wolff's for 16 years!
During the week, Hilda is making folks days and working at a local gas station

Rocio, Cashier, ParkerBeen at Wolff's for 6 years
During the week Rocio is a supervisor for the City of Chicago

Sharon, Cashier, Parker
Been at Wolff's for 3 years
Sees a lot of parking craziness
During the week, Sharon is doing whatever she wants. She retired in March!

Karen, Cashier
Been at Wolff's for 5 years
During the week, Karen helps out her dad

Donna, Cashier
This is Donna's first year at Wolff's!
During the week she is either St. Alexius Hospital, nannying, or playing with her two cats. 

Guest Blogger: Creative Uses for Flea Market Finds

Today's guest blogger is Betsy Fons

Thank you for sharing your projects and ideas!

The first item I ever bought at a flea market was a 5 by 7 carved wooden box. I was 8 years old and we were on our way back home from visiting my grandmother. My dad took the family to a flea market and gave $10.00 to each of his 6 kids to spend. I loved that box and it held many of my childhood “treasures” for many years.

Now, working at a flea market, one of the things I like best is to see customers thrilled about the unique items they buy. I can completely understand their excitement at finding something they have special plans for in their home.

I have grown from buying carved wooden boxes to items I can repurpose in creative ways.  The pictures below are of a few of my finds. I bought an old gardeners tool box, painted it, and put it in my bathroom to hold toiletries. The other picture is of an old church music hymn board that I use to hold family pictures. It’s easy to find creative ways to repurpose flea market finds…if you’re just willing to think outside the box!

Toiletry Caddy
(PHOTO: Betsy Fons)

Hymn board turned photo display
(PHOTO: Betsy Fons)


Thursday, June 9, 2016

MEET OUR VENDORS! The People of Wolff's Flea Market

By Guest Blogger Candice Lee Conner

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, you can find anything at Wolff's Flea Market. From Love - which we talked about earlier - to antiques. 

And yes folks, even your fresh produce. An epic place to get those strawberries, mangos, and veggies is Dave's Farm Stand. If you've been to Wolff's Flea Market in the past 17 years - you've seen their rather large stand in front of the Allstate Arena. I interviewed Ruben, Dave's son last Sunday while he was tending to his many hungry patrons. 

"I grew up in this place!" said Ruben. He's been working at the market since he was a kid, when his dad ran the stand. Dave and his family joined Wolff's Flea Market 17 years and Wolff's is happy they stayed with them!

The customers love Dave' Farm Stand too. As I was interviewing Ruben, a customer named Lisa yelled out that his "stuff tastes good and that everyone should buy here all the time." 

Ruben sells all kinds of fruits and veggies and products vary depending on the time of year. His key to being successful is to make sure to stay in season. This means buying fresh and local and never buying frozen. 

Said Ruben, "If it's not something I'll put on my table, I don't bring it."

So, there you have it folks. One epic food stand run by an epic person. Dave's Farm Stand is located in the front of the Allstate Arena every Sunday at Rosemont and every Saturday and Sunday at Palatine. 

"If it's not something I'll put on my table, I don't bring it"
Fresh mangos, red peppers and cucumbers
(PHOTO: Candice Lee Conner)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

MEET OUR VENDORS! The People of Wolff's Flea Market

Love at First Vend

By Guest Blogger Candice Lee Conner

You can find anything at the Flea. And as Carol and Rich found out, you can also find true love. 

Back on Memorial Day 2006, Carol was selling during her first year at Wolff's Flea Market, Rosemont. Rich, a vendor of 15 years, started talking to Carol to find out her "selling secrets". According to Carol, she was doing great and selling a ton of items. Rich...not so much. From this predicament, a romance quickly flourished! 

"He would leave a rose on the left side of my van every (sale) day," Says Carol.

And they've been together ever since.

Today, Rich and Carol still sell at Wolff's Flea Market...and still in separate spaces. 
Rich says it's so that Carol won't shop and leave Rich behind with all her merchandise, but I think it's because this lovely couple likes to compete with each other.

Rich and Carol - Love at First Vend
(PHOTO: Candice Lee Conner)

Monday, May 23, 2016

MEET OUR VENDORS! The People of Wolff's Flea Market: Hercules & Maria

By Candice Lee Conner

Today's blog post is written by Guest Blogger Candice Lee Conner. As part of her Social Media Assistant position at Wolff's Flea Market, Candice takes the time to personally meet our vendors and really get to know them and their life stories. Here is Candice's interview with Hercules the Ice Cream Man.

Enjoy delicious ice cream at Wolff's Flea Market Allstate Arena.
Say hello to Maria and Hercules! (Photo: Candice Lee Conner)
Some know him as Nick (for some reason he lets folks call him that). Some know him as Hercules. Everyone knows him as that really awesome guy who runs the ice cream trucks at Wolff's Flea Market in Rosemont. And they would all be correct. 

Hercules - his real name - has been selling ice cream treats at Wolff's for 15 years. Along with his daughter Maria, Hercules sells from two trucks at the market. 

One of the first food vendors to join Wolff's, he was able to sell because of his diligence. According to Maria, he started his Wolff's career by selling ice cream right outside the gates of the official market. He was there so often that the Wolff family took a liking to him, and offered him a spot. He's been selling his ice cream ever since. Looks like determination does go a long way!

And not only is he seller of the cold stuff, he loves ice cream treats. One in particular is the Klondike Bar. "He used to eat three a day," said Maria - pictured above. (Her favorite is chocolate eclair ice cream bars). 

Next time you're at Wolff's make sure you get a cold treat, and say hello to Hercules and Maria!

Monday, May 9, 2016


Sharon Wolff

So what really happens when you cast off your unwanted stuff? Shame shame if you don't find a home for potentially reusable items. Do you sell, donate or toss in the garbage?

Fortunately for a few lucky landfill-fated items, crafty pickers are continually scouting for this Golden Garbage. Here is one story of a rescued curbside find.

David of Home Details at Wolff's Flea Market is an eclectic vendor who embraces this concept like it is a daily natural phenomenon. His eye for potential in found objects lends to an eclectic, eccentric and dynamic booth display. We never know what will appear or be uncovered. I am telling you the truth when I state that his presentation alone elevates former trash into flea market finds bound for decorating greatness. This key element is what attracts a flock of repeat customers seeking to decorate their homes with specifically repurposed and reclaimed finds. All one of a kind and sometimes modified or repaired by David himself.

So the story goes like this.

David comes up to the front desk, hands covered in blue paint and tells me to hurry to his space because he is "Repurposing Live". Phone in hand, I briskly walked to his booth, and this is what I found:

A young couple visiting Wolff's Flea Market Palatine for the first time fell in love with this reclaimed wood map art. However they did not like the orange graffiti that may or may not have been intentionally put there. David told them how they could easily touch it up at home, but the couple wasn't so sure. The couple asked if they paid extra, would he do it for them? David, always up for a creative challenge was right on it!

Reclaimed wood artwork with orange graffiti
PHOTO: Home Details at Wolff's

David touched up the picture with white and blue paint to transform the art into exactly what the couple wanted for their blue and white living room!
He knows what he is doing!

Hand Details!


Monday, May 2, 2016


This post is taken straight from our Monday facebook post:

Monday May 2:
Wolff's Flea Market: Have a super Monday ‪#‎chicago‬! Wait a minute. What! Yup. ‪#‎counterfeit‬‪#‎lego‬ ‪#‎minifigs‬ Not. Allowed. -Sharon

Facebook follower: What should I look for in a fake?

Wolff's Flea Market Thanks for asking! We were initially freaked out when this came about, but it is easier than you think. First of all, the platform this little guy is standing on indicates the wrong manufacturer. Only Lego is authorized/licensed to make Superman minifigures. Grab your magnifying glass and take him apart to look for the Lego imprint in various places. If missing in certain key areas-it is fake. Side by side comparisons of real/fake will indicate further quality differences. 


A few pictures of creations we have recycled, repurposed, reinvented and reclaimed!

  1. Shoe storage made from leftover tile and cast-off TV shelf
  2. Tree stump planter made from wood craftsman's castoff. In the background recycled pop can flower, reclaimed pallet rack with insulator LED candle holder
  3. Wall of Rust made from old door hardware
  4. Boy's bathroom painted shelf decorated in a baseball theme
  5. Curbside to flea market to repurposed beverage cart
  6. Tire planter

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

World intellectual Property Day 2016

April 26, 2016

Today is World Intellectual Property Day, one of our favorite holidays. Actually, at Wolff's we are concerned with ‪#‎counterfeits‬ ‪#‎fakes‬ and other‪#‎intellectualproperty‬ every day. It's ok to talk about it. Research is ongoing!

Have you visited our Haul of Shame Counterfeit Museum in Palatine? (now closed)
We take this task seriously!
Prevention-Intervention-Education = PIE!


Friday, April 15, 2016

12 Most Important Tips For Becoming A Successful Flea Market Vendor

By David Wolff
Originally published on November 29, 2011. Updated April 15, 2016 including tips by guest blogger Joe Holich
12 Most Important Tips For Becoming A Successful Flea Market Vendor
Published on 12 MOST...
Posted by  on Nov 29, 2011 in BlogBusinessEducation and training,Entrepreneurship 

As a flea market owner, my expertise is running the entire operation, rather than selling the merchandise. However, interacting with both sellers and customers for over 20 years has given me a unique perspective on what makes a successful flea market vendor. Below are 12 Tips for Becoming a Successful Flea Market Vendor.

1. Attractive display

It’s hard to sell items if customers don’t look at your merchandise. If they don’t see it, you don’t sell it! An attractive display does not necessarily mean that it should be an organized, professional or expensive display. In my opinion it depends on the merchandise and/or your strategy. I’ve seen both ways work very effectively. The important thing is to get customers to look at your merchandise. I’ve seen vendors who sell estate or “storage war” merchandise simply put random boxes on the ground with some intriguing or eye catching merchandise on the top. These vendors quickly attract dozens of customers trolling through their merchandise in hopes of snagging the ultimate flea market find in a haphazard collection. Conversely, I’ve seen pristine, neat displays that hid merchandise in a way that no one could easily see it or interact with it and thus not purchase it. Please note that if you sell certain high-end items or food, I would definitely make my display clean and organized.

2. Your “seller’s personality”

Don’t scare away customers. You need to balance your seller's persona between passive and aggressive. If you are too loud and pushy in your sales techniques, you could drive customers away. On the other hand, if someone seems interested in an item but starts to walk away, there is no harm in trying to save the sale. If you have room in the price, maybe you can get them back by offering them a better price. Or maybe you can add an interesting tidbit about the item or point out a similar product?

3. Be nice

You want your patrons to like you. This seems like a no brainer, but one that some vendors ignore. Be friendly; engage customers in conversations on subjects that have nothing to do with your merchandise. If someone is wearing a Cubs jersey, start talking about the Cubs. I have often been suckered into buying merchandise simply because I liked the vendor and felt awkward leaving without making a purchase. If you get a nasty customer, avoid arguments. As a flea market owner, I have occasionally asked vendors with repeated customer relation issues to leave.

4. Change your display

The same display is a boring display, so shake it up a little! We operate an outdoor market in the parking lot of an indoor arena. Years ago, once a season, we shared the lot with a carnival. On those days we needed to reconfigure the market and move the location of the assigned regular spaces. Many reserved vendors told me they sold merchandise that they were never able to move. My theory is that customers who were used to seeing the same merchandise in the same space were now viewing the items from a different perspective, as if they had never seen it before. This lesson can be extrapolated to your normal display; move things around, change things up. Customers will discover merchandise that you always have had out if you rotate the location, placing different items at floor level, eye level, etc. To me this is one of the common elements of the successful vendors I have seen over the years.

5. Change your merchandise

Consistently give your customer something different to purchase. It is amazing how many first-time vendors who come to our market have incredible days. Their second and third day is pretty good too. By the fourth day, their sales slow down. They then tell me how good the market use to be, but is now not so good. I ask them, have you purchased any new merchandise? I actually don’t have to ask the question, because I know the answer. Their stock of good merchandise is gone. The successful vendor is not only restocking base merchandise, but also constantly trying new offerings.

6. Know what your customers want

Many successful vendors know what their customers want. One of my vendors sells food products. He knows I love a certain cheese wafer. He knows that when he is purchasing his stock if he sees this product he has a large sale because I will buy his entire stock of this item. Many collectible dealers know what their regular customers collect. If they are out purchasing their merchandise, they keep this in mind and pick up items they can sell to these customers.

7. Price reasonably

Don’t try to be greedy. It is much better to sell 500 items at a $1 profit than 100 items at a $2 profit. This rule would apply to merchandise you can easily replenish. In general more successful vendors have more attractive prices and are constantly replenishing their stock. If an item isn’t moving, lower the price even if you are going to take a loss. It doesn’t make sense to keep it around taking up valuable sales space.

8. Watch other successful vendors

It is easy to spot the successful vendor. They are the ones who always have a large crowd around their booth. Take the time to watch them. There is no better place to learn successful techniques.

9. Find a good product and become an expert

Know your stuff. You could be the best salesperson in the world, but if you are selling a product that is not desirable, you will not do well. You also have to have enough products to make it worth you while. I’ve come across vendors who have not had enough merchandise on their table to pay their rent. Know your product. Become an expert. If you can extol the benefits of your merchandise you will sell more.

10. A bad weather day can be your friend

Believe it or not–a thunderstorm can help your sales. This advice is for vendors who sell at outdoor flea markets. Many sellers have told me they have their best sales days when the weather is not the best. Why? If it is raining in the morning, many vendors choose to stay at home. The professional vendors will still set up because they know that when the weather breaks, the customers will start to flow in. The vendors who remain will enjoy much less competition for these customers’ dollars. The customers who do come out on these days are usually the die-hards who like spending their money.

11. Social media

Join the social media band wagon. If the flea market that you are attending is involved in social media, make full use of their facebook, twitter and other relevant sites to offer your own discounts, coupons and also to promote your merchandise. (Use relevant "tags" on your posts like #antiques, #furniture, etc. to attract attention to your specific products). What’s best about this is that your posts and interactions are free advertising for you and the market! Many markets have hundreds if not thousands of regular customers who follower their media sites. Wolff's Flea Market has over 12,000 followers on facebook. That's a lot of exposure!. If the market you attend does not use social media, encourage them to enter the 21st century.

12. Free advertising

Nothing beats free publicity. One of the top online sites to get free advertising is Craigslist. If you have a particular item for sale, you may find that no one attending the market seems to be interested in it. Why not expand your reach to the multitude of people visiting Craigslist? These people search Craigslist specifically for your type of item. Simply take a picture, add a description and price and list the address and hours of the flea market you are attending. If you mention your ad to market managers, they may even allow you to add a free admission coupon to your listing.
Most of these helpful business tips can be transferred to other ventures. Many successful vendors have eventually gone on to open thriving retail operations.

And now for a few more fantastic tips from successful flea market vendor and guest blogger Joe Holich:

13. Set a Goal for the Day
If you need/want $300 in sales, then adjust your prices to reach it. Sell a few items at a loss or at a break even point. If you bought smart up front, you'll still be ahead. You can't succeed if you haven't defined success.

14. Know your Competition
Consumers aren't stupid. If you are asking $5 for a widget that everyone else is asking $3 for then don't be surprised if yours doesn't sell.

15. Other Vendors May be your Competition but they aren't your Enemy
If only you succeeded then eventually the other vendors will leave and customers will stop coming too. Shoppers don't just go to a one-store shopping mall.

16. Be Honest
Stand behind your sale. Your reputation is everything.

17. Build Relations with Other Vendors
They can be your best customers and best referrals. Help others succeed and you will too.

18. Get Business cards
Offer to help customers by finding out what they are looking for. Help them find it even if you don't make any money. They will eventually be your customer for life. 

19. Have Fun
If you are desperate or pushy, the customers won't come back.

Wow! Thanks Joe for your insight! Many people can learn from you!