Date: Jul 06, 2018

Flea Market Vendor Spotlight: Wooden Signs by Chris

By Lora Gates


Chris routering a wooden camping sign at Shipshewana Flea Market


What started as a part time dream 35 years ago has turned into a full time business for this Shipshewana Flea Market vendor. Wooden Signs by Chris is making up custom wooden signs while you wait at booth space 715. 


I had the chance to learn more from him about his successful flea market business while he was working on custom orders for several early morning Shipshewana Flea Market shoppers.

Handmade wooden sign display at Shipshewana Flea Market

So how did he get started with this business of now almost 35 years?


Well, Chris saw a similar product in a local mall in the 1970's and he said, "I know I can do that!" He had the skills, ambition and personality to make this new venture a hit. Now, Chris has been a seasonal full-time vendor here at Shipshewana for almost 10 years.

We are the millers camping wooden sign

When I asked Chris what his favorite thing to make or sell was, he was quick to answer, but it was not what I thought he was going to say at all.


Without hesitation, he said his favorite thing to make is a friend and a happy customer! His mission statement is simple and that's to "make you happy when you receive your sign."


I can attest to this because I was able to watch the excited reactions of several happy shoppers picking up their fun, unique, personalized signs.

Chris and Happy CUstomer with a Welcome to Our Campsite Wooden Sign

Signmasters' wooden signs are made to withstand years of weather (once a varnish is applied) and are all crafted from redwood and cedar (excellent for outdoors).


Most customers come with a saying already in mind. Chris then helps them choose the right shape, size, and artwork to complement the saying. Then, while they shop the other vendor booths, he does the freehand routing, sanding and painting.


The customized signs sell from just $20 - $55, depending on size and style.

Wooden Signs While You Wait Booth at Shipshewana Flea Market

In an hour or less, shoppers return for their completely custom sign all ready for that important light varnish. He even makes and sells the stands for the signs. So no need to shop anywhere else to get your sign ready for displaying proudly.

Private drive wooden sign and holder

Chris also ships his signs if you can't shop with him in person, but you don't get the same fun experience of sharing in his creativity for your custom piece. He is passionate about what he does and the opportunity to interact and make your sign for you while you wait makes a great story long after you take the sign home.


He'd love to see you out at the market and help you with a sign that will be something you can share with friends and family for many years.

The Smiths Wooden Sign

With so many years of experience as a flea market vendor, I asked what advice he would have for new vendors.


He said, "You have to have a niche, confidence in your product, the skills to pull it off successfully and you can't give up!" He said it just takes time to build up a successful flea market business and you have to give it the appropriate time to develop. "It's not going to just instantly happen overnight."


You'll find Chris in the market Tuesdays and Wednesdays at booth #715 or on Facebook.

Wooden Sign Display for sale at Shipshewana Flea Market

To find more vendor success stories, check out our vendor spotlights, or download a PDF of our case study, How 3 Vendors Grew Sales and Became Successful by Selling at the Shipshewana Flea Market


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