I wish to remind everyone that Philadelphia Flea Market News has no affiliation with Phila Flea Markets, nor any other organization. For a fuller explanation, please read my Disclaimer and Mission Statement under “About” along the gray menu bar above.
For those of you not familiar with Phila Flea Markets or its organizer, Tony Soprano, you can read much about them here on this blog. I’ve done a profile on the organization (which seriously needs to be updated) and I’ve reviewed several of their individual markets as well. Until you get to that material, allow me to briefly explain what they do. Basically, what Tony Soprano has been doing for the past quarter century is placing flea markets where flea markets have no business being, and, he makes them work. Any flea market organizer, especially those struggling to succeed, would be wise to listen to what he says.
Below, in italics, are his suggestions:
I have been the organizer of Phila Flea Markets in Center City Philadelphia for over 26 years. I’ve also been to just about every flea market in the Tri-State area including Upper Darby High School many times. From my point of view, the main problem with Upper Darby High School Flea Markets is that there are way too many of them at the same location clumped into a small period of time. In addition, they have the same vendors in the same spots selling the same merchandise flea market after flea market.
There are only so many shoppers that Delaware County has, that go to flea markets, and I can tell you right now that every flea market shopper in that township has been to the Upper Darby High School Flea Markets at least once. If they are not impressed the first time, they won’t return.
I organize the Prison Flea Market twice a year around The Eastern State Penitentiary at 22nd and Fairmount in Philadelphia’s Art Museum area. It’s an extremely popular market but if we ran it there every week or even just once a month, it would quickly die off. We schedule our flea markets just twice a year in each neighborhood that we visit. Once in the Spring and once in the Fall are enough flea markets for any neighborhood. Any more is just “Flea Market Overload.” Rob’s comments in an earlier post prove my point. In it he says: “The first flea market of the Spring season, the Rotary Club, and the first of the Fall season, which is normally The Upper Darby Band and Orchestra, get the best customer turnout volume-wise.”
Another problem I find with these flea markets is that there is no set schedule every year for each market. For example, if someone were to put together a schedule of all the planned Upper Darby High School flea markets and post it on Craigslist, and in local newspapers, shoppers would have a more organized calendar. If they cannot make one market, they can make plans for the next one. Every time I went to a flea market there it was just that I happened to be driving by and saw the sign a few days prior. There is also no website that I could refer to in order to see all the markets for the year.
If you need to run more than two flea markets a year, I would suggest running them just once a month. The first Sunday of each of the good-weather months of April through November would be a good idea. Then, shoppers would look forward to that first Sunday each month.
Once again, thank you to Tony Soprano for taking the time to engage here on Philadelphia Flea Market News. Two issues he addresses at Upper Darby are overkill and confusion. Too many flea markets haphazardly scheduled, plus, an inefficiency in getting the word out to vendors and, more importantly, shoppers.
(I know one way [possibly the only way] in which the town of Upper Darby, Pennsylvania disseminates information on flea markets at the high school is by having interested parties call their Department of Recreation. I’ve called a few times and the persons who answered the phones have always been very nice and helpful. However, they only have information for a few weeks in advance. If you get lucky, they may have information for the whole month but even that is only marginally helpful. I’m sure this system worked just fine in 1985 but in this super-Information Age, it’s plain unacceptable.)
A Note To Upper Darby High School Flea Market Organizers:
Please fact the facts. You are connected to each other whether you like it or not. Your customers see you as one. Philadelphia Flea Market News sees you as one. Most of your vendors talk in terms of thee Upper Darby High School Flea Market without ever making distinctions between the different groups running them. Even by your own admission, this is the case. Calling out a “weak link” is an acknowledgement of a connection in the first place. Ironically, by trying to distance yourselves from each other, you make the problem worse. Anger and frustration are normal and natural reactions in circumstances like these but the only way to truly help yourselves is to come together.
Here is my suggestion: form one organization that runs all the flea markets at Upper Darby High School. This way, resourses and brainpower would be pooled and expenses and profits would be shared. This automatically removes the us-versus-them dynamic which is most likely causing unneeded stress and crippling your markets. Also, consider running your flea markets on Saturdays instead of Sundays so you are not competing with any of the larger DCCC flea markets.
After you’ve done that, revisit this post, reread Tony Soprano’s suggestions, and immediately implement what he advises. If you wish to take two aspirins and call me in the morning, feel free, though I prefer emails. After all, it’s not 1985.
Philadelphia Flea Market News
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If you wish to learn more about Phila Flea Markets and their schedule for 2013, you can visit their website by clicking here.
If you wish to know the dates and contact information of the Upper Darby High School Flea Markets, see my April 2013 page.