Small talk, despite being uncomfortable for many people, is a very effective way to reel in otherwise reluctant customers. If you aren't used to small talk, it's difficult to engage in it without being awkward or unsure of what to keep conversing about. If you have a flea market stall and are trying to attract the attention of people wandering by, you can try some of these topics and see if you can't spark up a conversation that leads to a sale.
The ultimate small talk topic is the weather. It's relevant to everyone, because it impacts them in one way or another. The trick is to find out how the weather can be relevant to your ultimate goal -- convincing them to buy something. It's easy, of course, if you sell something related to the weather, like sunglasses or umbrellas. But if you start up a conversation about the rain causing mud on the roads and lead it carefully onto the topic of your collectible t-shirts...well, you're a clever conversationalist and shrewd businessperson.
Family and pets are topics that open people right up, in many cases. It's at least polite to ask about family members, especially if you've talked to a particular customer before, and some people love to go on and on about their kids or famous relatives. And pets provide a particularly good opening for conversation: our furry friends are eternally endearing and we believe that everyone will feel the exact same way.
Of course, you can always ask the shoppers what they're shopping for, and then try to fill that need with what you have to offer. This is a subject that can easily end up being just a pleasant chat before they wander off -- but even brief conversations can be useful, because if they remember you, they could recommend you to someone who needs what you sell.
It can be a little touchy to get into topics like pop culture favorites and sports, but some customers will respond to that best because it's part of their identity. Ask a customer if they've seen a movie, and they might go off on you about how wonderful or horrible it was. Make a comment about a recent sporting match, and you could have a new best friend or a new mortal enemy. But if you can connect your merchandise to their reaction, you may be in luck.
You could always apply this tactic to garage sale hosting, too, although since they're already there on your property it may not be as effective. Looking for more garage sale tips? Browse this blog, or visit GarageSaleCow.com for free listings and information you won't find anywhere else on the Web!