Calling all ex-pat market traders......

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26 Oct 2010 00:00 by janet_bookworm Star rating in time spent between E.... 27 posts Send private message

Any brits working in Spain as market traders want to help me understand how to go about it when I get there in December? I know I'm supposed to register at the town hall (well I think I am) and ask for permission to stand markets, but not sure how this works etc.

Would love to hear from anyone who knows, and any info on markets in the Nerja area would be especially welcome. I've been a book seller and on markets for over 15 years and quite keen on continuing the tradition without the dreaded English winter weather to contend with........


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26 Oct 2010 16:50 by EOS Team Star rating in In Spain of course!. 4017 posts Send private message

EOS Team´s avatar

Hi Janet

Some good friends of our came out to Spain about four years ago to set up a market stall selling clothes.  This is what they always did in England, and gave them a good living, and reckoned it work just as well in Spain.

But they were very wrong and left after two years of losing money.

They were registered as "autonomo", self employed, but for each market he had to turn up at like 6 or 7 in the morning to get a pitch.  There were a lot of back-handers going on so he wasn't always guaranteed a pitch in every market.

The main killer for him though was.....the weather!  Winter this year was truly awful with nearly four months of rain.  Previous winters have been better but to be honest, we still get a lot of rain.

The Spanish don't do rain, so when it rains most of the markets are either cancelled or no one turns up to them, apart from British expats!

My friends just couldn't sustain themselves with so many cancelled or slow markets and they eneded up returning to UK.

That's just their experience, others may be better though.

Anyway, best of luck with your own endeavours and I wish you the best of luck with it.



Schools in Spain Guide | The Expat Files | Learn Spanish | Earn a living in Spain

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26 Oct 2010 17:41 by janet_bookworm Star rating in time spent between E.... 27 posts Send private message

Oh Justin you know how to cheer a cold wet soul already shivering at the thought of tomorrow's market...........well I'm only coming for three months to start with and if it doesn't work then at worst it will be a (hopefully) working holiday, at best a new potential start, and PLEASE don't tell me the weather is bad in the winter, my friend and I are coming mainly to avoid the appalling winter we had last year in England. It's a hard enough life without the weather. And surely ex pats want more books and books on tape even if they don't want clothes?

Where on the Costa del Sol were your friends, as a matter of interest?

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26 Oct 2010 18:06 by EOS Team Star rating in In Spain of course!. 4017 posts Send private message

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Sorry Janet! If you are after expats then on the costa del sol you are better off servicing the Mijas/ Benalmadena area. My friends covered from Manilva to Marbella area. I'm glad to hear that you are planning to try it out for three months. I don't mean to be negative bit it's always best to be prepared for the worst.


Schools in Spain Guide | The Expat Files | Learn Spanish | Earn a living in Spain

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27 Oct 2010 10:17 by Faro Star rating in London. 1139 posts Send private message

I have not visited any markets for years but from memory they are extremely hot in summer!

But you might be onto something as English books are expensive in Spain. There are some English book shops in Fuengirola (one in Myramar) but they do charge premium price and you never get the bargains/offers you get in UK book shops. For most books it's usually much cheaper to buy online or buy when back in UK etc.

Example -  Guiness Book Of Records normally has a published price of GBP20 - in Spain that will be EUR30 - in UK I can buy for GBP10 in most bookshops as an offer. So if you have that on your bookstall at Christmas at EUR equivalent of GBP10 I will buy if not I'll buy as I always do in UK.

UK magazines are also incredibly expensive here. I met someone once who made his fortune selling returned (unsold) magazines or buying up suplus stock etc. He was a northern european living in a EUR1.5m villa and retired at about 50. Who wants to pay over EUR5 for a magazine priced GBP1 or that multiple?

Many items such as books/DVDs/PlayStation games are much more expensive in Spain than UK due to lack of competition. So most ex-pats travelling back and forward get in the habit of buying in UK if possible (not always possible with impatient children!).

Maybe you should also do some market research here as we might be your customers but remember we are not stupid and as many ex-pats live on UK pensions/income they are and have been for 2+ years feeling the pinch on exchange rates and have had to make cut-backs - can't afford to buy Sunday papers at EUR5 a go!

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28 Oct 2010 00:50 by janet_bookworm Star rating in time spent between E.... 27 posts Send private message

Thanks Faro, every suggestion is welcome and you have confirmed my impression that many things English cost more in Spain.

I don't think I am likely to get rich, here or in Spain, I just want to make an honest living, which I have done for around 12 years selling books - might as well sell something I love and know about. I have prided myself on having the widest range posssible, tracking down the requirements of my regulars and giving good customer service to my customers, many of whom have grown to be friends. I know perfectly well that internet sales are an attractive option to many, but you can't browse in the same way nor can you stop for a chat, discuss what you've read, or  take up recommendations like the customers on a bookstall can. And a book at 1p plus postage is probably no cheaper either.

I am looking forward to seeing if I can translate all that to a better climate and a new life, if it works out, I'm coming for 3 months in December, after that who knows? I've got enough stock from my business here to (hopefully) keep any customers happy assuming I can sort out my outlets there, which is why I'm asking about markets. In fact I won't be able to bring all my stock which is why I'm asking what peole would want, to help me decide where the demand might be.

So all readers, please keep telling me what you can't get, especially if you live anywhere near Nerja which is where we are going to be! I'd still like to hear from anyone working the markets in Spain.....

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28 Oct 2010 01:59 by foxbat Star rating in Granada. 1114 posts Send private message

foxbat´s avatar

Janet hi;

I know of a lady who lives near Antequera which is about 70kms north of Malaga and the same distance west of Granada who makes a living doing just what you are proposing, selling second hand books at country markets. I dont know if she makes enough to call it a living; certainly she is of pensionable age so the income could just be a supplement. All the indications are that there is enough trade to make it feasible though.

Her main stock in trade is thrillers / romance novels in paperback; she sells these second hand books at between 1 and 3 Euros a time with a 50 cent rebate if you return them to her when you have read them.  I don't know what other markets she services other than my local one which is a Sunday Morning flea market  / car boot sale; I dont know if she ventures down to the coast.

I think for the official markets you need a market traders licence and it could be difficult obtaining one of these since I believe they are issued individually by the Town Hall responsible for each market; I could be wrong in this however.

Weatherwise, inland areas are subject to wide variations in temperature during the winter; already here just 25Kms from Granada we are seeing nightitme temps dropping close to freezing whilst daytime temps are still up around 20C / 68F. And as Justin has suggested when it rains it RAINS and the snow on the upper stretches of the Sierra Nevadas didn't completely disappear at all this Summer; the ski season continued right through until late May. Of course on the coast its a lot milder and cetainly better than the UK!

I'll take a trip up to the market on Sunday and see if she can give you any tips...I'll pm you when I have some news...OK?




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28 Oct 2010 22:43 by janet_bookworm Star rating in time spent between E.... 27 posts Send private message

Hi FB and thanks very much for all the info, look forward to hearing more from you, it's lovely "meeting" you all and hearing about different lives in Spain. :)


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02 Nov 2010 10:14 by suemac Star rating in Jumilla, Murcia. 1001 posts Send private message

Hi Janet

We live in Murcia, so we are nowhere near where you plan to be, but I would like to make a couple of comments.  Yes, lots of expats enjoy reading and books are more expensive in Spain, however there are alternatives.  We have set up an English book swap group and we meet on the first Tuesday of each month to swap books.  The most popular ones seem to be crime novels/thrillers, though we do have a lady who enjoys history books (non-fiction).  Also, we have ordered books online through and Amazon, plus we stock up when we go back to the UK.  If you were near us we would certainly come along to look at your books, however as I said we have found other ways of getting new books to read.  Still, I would like to wish you good luck and, if it works out, let us know what markets you will be at, so if we are on holiday in your area we can pop along to buy books!



 Sue Walker

Author of "Retiring the Ole Way", now available on Amazon

See my blog about our life in Spain:

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07 Nov 2010 16:20 by janet_bookworm Star rating in time spent between E.... 27 posts Send private message

Hola Sue, and thanks for your input, I'm not at all surprised at what you say, and it is a shame you are not near where I am going as I am very well stocked with crime thrillers! I have customers in the UK who come for specific requests for family and friends abroad before they go to visit, and a book swap is good idea anyway - UK book sellers on markets mostly do part exchange as  a matter of course, and if it works out for me in Spain I would intend to do likewise.

Presently panicking as there are 3 weeks to departure and far more books than will fit in the van so (just to make you jealous) a clearout sale is in progress whilst my customers grumble that I am going to be away for so long........and of course if this works out I won't want to be going back to England after all.........

Lovely to hear from people, keep the messages coming!  :)

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10 Nov 2010 15:36 by Janny Star rating. 35 posts Send private message

Janny´s avatar

 I always manage to grab a bargain book at La Trocha market near Coin !Its a very busy Sunday market Janet .

And also a lot of bars and Charity Shops here in the Cartama/Coin area have Book corners and they dont usually cost more than a Euro. 

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11 Nov 2010 01:32 by janet_bookworm Star rating in time spent between E.... 27 posts Send private message

Hi Janny and thanks for your input, it's good to hear all information and that there are good Sunday markets. As for books for a euro, well then that's fine for charity shops and bars where people donate their books for free but no way viable for anyone running a business who actually has to BUY their stock! Also they are not guaranteed to have the range of books which a book seller would, but a random selection can be interesting too, especially at those prices.

Does anyone actually want to encourage me in trying to bring my business to Spain?? I've been a book seller on English markets and on the internet for 12 years and all I hoped to do was try it out where my extensive range would be truly appreciated (I thought) i.e. where good English books would be at a premium, and where the climate would hopefully be kinder to those of us who work outdoors!!

And PLEASE are there any market traders out there who want to tell me what it's like and pass on their tips for successful trading in Spain - I'm really interested in what people are reading and where they get their books, but I'm also very keen to talk to people who have already done what I'm going to try! 

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11 Nov 2010 09:37 by suemac Star rating in Jumilla, Murcia. 1001 posts Send private message

Hi Janet

I seem to recollect that somebody on another forum started out doing the markets, so I will post a question there for you. 

 Can you give us a few examples of crime thrillers and what price you would expect to sell them at?  If you had a market stall in Jumilla, where we live, I am sure we would look on a regular basis and buy books from you, as although we are doing the book swap we do still stock up from time to time and  it is nice to have new books occasionally!

Also, would you be selling on the internet in Spain as well?  Again, an idea of your prices would be helpful.



 Sue Walker

Author of "Retiring the Ole Way", now available on Amazon

See my blog about our life in Spain:

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11 Nov 2010 22:02 by suemac Star rating in Jumilla, Murcia. 1001 posts Send private message

Hi again Janet

I have just received this reply to my post on the other forum:

"My take would be if she has done her research and the books are reasonably priced then she could gain a lot of interest from the expat and tourist market who enjoy a read in English.

Another key thing would be that she needs to be located in a place where there is lots of passing trade and probably near a beach where folks like to chill out with a good book ;-) "

If I receive any other replies I will put them on here for you.




 Sue Walker

Author of "Retiring the Ole Way", now available on Amazon

See my blog about our life in Spain:

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11 Nov 2010 23:15 by AJB1 Star rating in Benahavis, Costa del.... 63 posts Send private message

I have a slightly different suggestion.


You could contact the international schools and ask if you could take your book selection in for the staff to look at - teachers love books!! 


Or alternatively you could spend an afternoon in a school and the children could come and look at the books class by class and buy - we do something like that in our school through a well known English book shop here on the Costa del Sol.


And finally the schools may be interested in buying some reading books for the school.

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