Selling at a flea market seems simple — get some products, rent a stall, and make some money! However, in many states flea market vendors must apply by the same laws as those who own a brick-and-mortar store. Read more to learn how to stay on the right side of the law.
Business and Resale Licenses
In some states, selling at a flea market will require you to have a business license or permit. This assures the public that you have been certified by the state, as well as (in some cases) lets distributors know that you are authorized to buy from them. Some states will have a vendor’s license available for those who will only be selling at flea markets, craft fairs, and other pop-up events. Be aware that these permits do usually have fees associated with them, though a vendor permit is usually cheaper than a basic business license.
In some cases you will be required to visibly display this permit or license in your shop or booth, so take the time to research the laws for your state, county, and city. A great place to start looking for this information is the local Chamber of Commerce. If you do not have a license or permit and are discovered operating without it, you can face a fine ranging from $25 to $100.
Taxes are where selling at a flea market can get complicated. If you own a business, you will need to pay Federal taxes –that much is relatively simple. However, state and local taxes can cause confusion. Will you pay taxes based on where you live, where your business is based, or where you happen to be selling? Does your state charge taxes, or just the county? What about the city? Do they stack or does one override the other? Thankfully there’s a resource to help you figure all this out.
The U.S. Small Business Association is here to help you figure out your tax obligations, so you can stay on the right side of the law and prevent having to pay back taxes. This resource helps you determine each tax bracket that is applicable to your business and shows you where to apply for the sales tax licenses that you need. Note that in some states, if your sales are below a certain amount, you may not be required to report your sales and pay sales taxes at all. However, in order to assure that you can prove where your sales fall on that scale, it is best to keep careful records of all your sales. If you pay taxes, they can be paid monthly, quarterly, or yearly.
If this all seems confusing, don’t worry — there are people whose entire job is to help you navigate the laws surrounding selling at a market. Look up your town’s Chamber of Commerce, tax office, City Hall, or local chapter of the Small Business Association. Any of these places can point you in the right direction to get started finding the help you need to start selling.