Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Antique Store Wisdom: Don't Underprice Your Items

I'm thoroughly enjoying being a part of the Southern Crossing Antique Mall family. I know many of you are curious about selling vintage items in antique stores, so I'm going to keep everyone updated on my progress with Antique Store Wisdom posts. I'll let you know what works, and what doesn't.

My first piece of advice is: Don't underprice your items.

I'm guilty of doing this. If you have a piece of art or a vintage item that you feel is unique and special, don't price it too low. Be patient, and the right person will find your item and buy it.

For Example:

I sold this book on drawing retro fashions at the antique shop for $5.00. I should have priced it higher, the vintage illustrations inside are gorgeous. I should have scanned them all, too! I likely could have sold framed prints of many of the illustrations in the shop, producing FAR more in revenue than $5.00!

Imagine a beguiling shelf full of perfectly framed vintage illustrations, each one unique and lovely. I sold that opportunity for $5.00!

Another Example:

I sold three out of this set of five owl lamps for $25.00. Not too bad, but owls are so hot right now I could have sold them for more. At least I have two more I might sell for another $25.00.

The Coelacanth Lamp Story

This coelacanth lamp is a prized treasure. I purchased it for $30.00 from an antique shop, the most I've ever paid for a lamp in my life. This gorgeous lamp spoke to my soul, as a fish lover it was the crown jewel of vintage fish collectibles.

I would visit the store and check the dark and clandestine corner where the fish lived, every time I breathed a sigh of relief for it still being there. Months passed when I finally realized that this one- of- a-kind treasure could be snatched up by another and I'd never be able to "check in on it" again. I finally put down the $30 for the coelacanth and never regretted it.

The Cuttlefish Poster Story

My Cuttlefish Anatomy "poster" is another prized possession (If you can't tell, I'm obsessed with marine life, I used to dream of being a marine biologist).

This one cost a little over $100, so you can tell I truly love it if my thrifty soul could spend so much on one item. (Hell, I won't spend more than $1.00 on a pair of jeans!) Around Christmas, I asked family members if they could contribute to my "poster fund" instead of giving me gifts. In the end, I raised the funds, and the poster was mine. It is my precious. It's thoroughly "me" in every way, and that's the point.

Your Art will Speak to People:  The right person eventually comes along for it. It will speak to them, it will wrap itself around their heart with all the strength of a boa constrictor. They'll pay your price, so don't be afraid to price it higher.

-  - - - - Antique Booth Goals for February - - - - -

1) Get the rest of the merchandise in my home into the antique shop.
2) Finally choose a name, make a banner, and stage the shop to perfection.
3) Do what it takes to earn at least $100 after rent and fees.

In January: I made $106.00 gross in sales in Jan. $68.55 after expenses are accounted for.

Apron Thrift Girl's February Listing Challenge -  -  -  -  -  -  - 

I've joined Apron Thrift Girl's February Listing Challenge this month. It's a way to keep us re-sellers motivated and hitting our goals. Every Tuesday we'll check in at Apron Thrift Girl and share our progress.

Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.


  1. interesting piece, the vintage drawing book looks like an interesting piece

  2. This is a great post! I've often wondered about selling things at antique malls even though I am not a Vintage sellter. I really would like to get inot consignment but don't really know where to start to sell handmade goods. I love the antique malls I've been to & just recently realized how they were staged. I never thought that people would have booths there! Good luck with your goals! You Can Do It!!

  3. Great new blog series! I'm interested in how the whole antique booth thing works - we'd made it a goal to look into opening one this year. The rent is so high here, though. So definitely will be keeping up with these posts.

    I hear you on the underpricing - it's a big problem for any venue for reselling. Tricky balance, price too high then things don't move fast enough, price too low then you're not making enough profit to cover the rent!

  4. Awesome post! I've been curious about your antique selling experience. The idea of selling prints from vintage books/materials is an excellent idea! Prints always sell.

    I wish I had my own little shelf somewhere...maybe a future goal. I just dunno if it's for me, which is exactly why I love reading posts like this so much!
    Good Luck with your sales, Van!

  5. thank you so much for posting on this topic! i've been thinking of renting a booth at a local antique mall, but the rent is kinda high for me right now. hopefully soon though!

  6. Very cool! I've often thought about starting up a booth with my mom. She has an attic full of depression glass and other treasures, so we would have a full inventory to start up with no problem!

  7. I would love to see the items in your bookcase close up. I find treasures that way! That is, if you're willing to ship...

  8. I have some items that I know are worth some serious money but dont know where to go to find out what they are worth and who would buy them.
    I hear of stories all the time where people will sell stuff at garage sales and then the person who bought it got millions for it.

  9. Moe: Art and handmade goods sell well in antique malls, especially if you cater it to the demographics that shop there. You should plan a line and try it!

    A La Modern: I hope the perfect balance is a few higher priced "special" items and a lot of small low priced items (to help make rent). I have plenty to clean up and get unto those shelves...

    Barbara: I will indeed take close ups, and send you a picture if you're interested. I wanted to include some in this post, but I left my memory card at home :)

  10. If you click "Thrift Hauls" in my top right navigation you'll I was thrifting for inventory for months before I set up shop.

    Katie & Cry: If you have a lot of inventory you feel will sell right now, do some research. Look for local stores with lots of traffic. Look for ones with shopping demographics that suit your style.

    The shop I chose gets tons of traffic and has diverse demographics. Artists, crafters, hipsters, grannies who love shabby chic, trendy mod hunters, teens, a lot of people hunt there.

    It's the right spot for my kitschy/eclectic taste.

  11. You sound like you are on your way. I think I've been resisting being a reseller in a way. I keep thinking that I'll be an artist (lol) or writer but in the end ReSelling keeps coming back to me. I think 2011 will be the year I go full on with it. My two goals are a booth in a store and a stall at a flea market in San Francisco. Seeing your booth is so inspirational.

  12. Thanks Van! I'm looking into doing this myself. But I like to do my research forst. I'm lookng forward to more posts in this series.

  13. I love that poster at the bottom, I love scientific posters too! And this is a great post about the lesson you learned- that's so cool that you have a booth at an antique store! I've always been interested in that, but haven't had time to think about it. Maybe someday- I'll learn vicariously thru your tips in the meantime :)

  14. This piece is perfectly timed! I am in the beginning stages of buying up items to resell. I've been researching and researching, making sure these items are authentic, or at the least, priced to move without losing potential profit.

  15. Oh Van--you write such great pieces! I love how thoughtful and honest you are. Don't beat yourself up, live and learn!

  16. Please do! My email is in my profile!

  17. Greetings Van~
    I'm thrilled to discover your blog today! I jumped into blogging last summer and fizzled after only a couple of goal is to dive back in and hopefully make a stronger attempt to keeping it alive. During this same time frame, my husband and I opened our booth in a local antique mall. I've posted a few pics periodically here...

    Currently we are measuring our success based on whether or not we make next month's rent plus receive a check...I'm happy to say we have done just that every month since opening in June, 2010. It has been a lot of hard work and we have so many issues to try and figure out along the way...I'm on the hunt for ReSeller business info in any shape or form...I am so excited to find your blog as well as the other's who have commented here.

    Best of luck on your booth sales :)
    Tiny Matchbox Studio

  18. Laura: Thank you! That is definitely what I had to do moving prevent insanity! :) I still have plenty of cool retro prints to sell and hopefully find in the future!

    TinyMatchboxStudio: Thank you for the kind words! Your shop looks absolutely amazing. I can see a lot of love went into it- no wonder it's successful.

    Check on and for the best reselling tips on the web!

    Your comment also reminded me, I'm writing a series on "how to write a thrift blog"- it sounds silly, but I do get questions about it. It'll contain tips that will prevent writing burn-out in the future.

  19. Apron Thrift Girl: I gave up on my side artist endeavors to focus on reselling, too.

    No matter how you spin it, it's simply not the economical choice for earning side income. You have to plan the line, make the line, get your name out there, least with reselling, the art is your stock! I kind of see the two as one in the same.

  20. Thanks to your blog I also rented space at Southern Crossing, my booth is #2789. I've only sold two things since opening up shop on Feb 1 so any tips you can give on your blog would be great.

  21. After a girls weekend when I couldn't find anything I wanted to buy at the antique stores, I started thinking about what I would sell if I had my own booth. I think it's important to decide what kind of customer you are looking for so you can fill your booth with items that attract their attention. If you have too many different type of items like antique tools and linens together it's hard for some people to focus on what's in your shop. It's also easier to decide what to buy to resell when you have a set image of your business. The best thing my sister and I did was to narrow our items down to the 50's, 60's and 70's. Our booth stands out as having a very retro vibe and attracts younger customers that maybe never liked antiques.

  22. vintagesister: That's incredibly exciting, I'm glad that I gave you the extra push to join the SC Antiques family. I'll check out your booth this weekend.

    JoRetro: Love your tips! I'm definitely going to try to stage things right and keep the style defined and consistent.

  23. Great advice. It is too funny, I own the example book and never would have thought out of my box to splitting it out. Thanks!

  24. Love this blog you have done, I also have a booth at a local antique mall an for the last several months seem to be doing quite well with it, sometimes tripling my rent amount. Been hunting at area thrift stores and have found some killer items. I have your site bookmarked now and will be checking it regularly.


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