Flea markets are big business. Many people have taken the plunge and tried their luck at owning their own business, starting with a simple booth at one of these giant yard sales. Flea markets can also be a major pain for many retailers. In my company’s particular case, they were the driving force behind our initial investment in Alpha Keepers. These clear display boxes that secure almost any package we can find a reason to protect are a fantastic solution and they absolutely help Prevent Shoplifting. Big 500 count boxes of pain relievers, razor cartridges, fragrances, and even those new popular deodorant sprays… in my store, you can bet you will find all of those safely encased in Alpha Keepers at this very moment.
When I was first hired into the retail pharmacy I work for, as an assistant manager, I had no idea of what kind of rampant theft I was up against. The occasional empty package was nothing in comparison to the losses we experienced from boosters. Boosters are the ones that actually come into the stores, load up bags, baskets, and even specially made clothing and wipe out entire sections. They are sent in with shopping lists by the “fence” operation. The “fence” is the seller or operator of the booth or stand that sells the stolen products. The boosters are paid for the items they bring back to the fence, depending on the condition of the packaging. If there are EAS tags on the items, or if they are encased in Alpha Keepers, the booster receives less money. If they ripped of the tags and left marks on the packaging they also lose money. The “fence” needs the items to appear as new and undamaged as possible or they may face doubt by the customers of the quality of the merchandise, or they may face questioning by the flea market owners. (At the one closest to our location, the sellers must have receipts for the purchase of the items they are selling. Unfortunately, this can be as simple as a hand written sales ticket for the booster.) The “fence” will also have to have a cleaning operation. They have to have tools to remove the products from Alpha Keepers, and they also have to employ people to remove any store identifier tags from the packages. They usually store all of the stolen goods, and conduct the cleaning operations at a remote small warehouse.
Trends have come and gone, as far as what has been targeted by boosters. The “fence” sends them in based on what people are asking for at the flea market, as well as the time of year or season. First of the year, they send the boosters in for the diet pills. Next comes spring, so all the name brand allergy medications are put on the shopping list. Throughout the year, they also like to get big packs of batteries, any name brand body wash, and they have an affinity for our salon hair care products. For some odd reason, toothpaste for sensitive teeth is a hot item. We’ve had one group hit our stores multiple times in the last month or so, and they have wiped out entire sections of this stuff. That was also the same group that got all my deodorant sprays. Generally, once we have identified a new target and lock it up, the boosters leave it alone. They are too bulky to try and take multiples, and they make a lot of noise clacking against one another. Plus they will cause the Checkpoint System to alarm if they are taken too close to the pedestals.
Don’t get me wrong. I love a bargain, and when I was a kid I looked forward to visiting the very same flea market that drives me crazy today. (More for the pony ride guy than the shopping, but whatever…)If you think your store is getting hit by boosters, take a look at what Alpha Keepers can do to help.
For more information on Alpha Keepers contact us: 1.770.426.0547 or Preventshopliftingloss.net