Thursday, July 7, 2011

Antique Store Wisdom: The 6 Month Update

I've been set up at the Southern Crossing Antique Mall since January 2011! Six months later, I still feel at home in my space, and happy about my decision to set up shop. It's been fun to learn as I go in my antique store space. What follows is a list of important lessons I've learned along the way; there's some harsh realities you'll have to come to terms with if you expect to rent space at an antique store near you!

1. You Can't Stop Shopping. Keep Adding Stock!

Whenever I decided I should take it easy on thrifting and stop my tenacious hunting and restocking, sales dropped. Unless you have your own private warehouse of vintage merch (your attic? your parent's attic?) you have to constantly hunt, add new items, and remove old items to keep your sales up.

2. Get Used to Some Boxes and/or Clutter.

As you cycle things in and out of your booth, having excess merchandise in your home is pretty much inevitable. Designate an area in your home to store items that you've removed from your booth to be added later. (Unless you decide to cut your losses and send the items back to Goodwill.)

3. Be Patient, The Right One Will Come. 

I still believe in pricing special items higher. If it's something unique and interesting, the right person will come along. This month I finally sold vintage artwork that was priced on the higher side. It was in the shop for a couple of months, but I didn't mark it down. I had faith the right one would find it and pay the higher price. In the end, I was right! (More about that here: Don't Underprice Your Items)

4. Keep Rearranging Your Booth.

You'll have to schedule time to visit your booth 1-2 times a week to rearrange your items. It really does make a difference with sales!

5. Tell a Story. What's Your Theme?

Never haphazardly toss items in your booth (Unless you're going for a Haphazard Chaos Theme!) Have fun with it. Think of a theme for your booth and try to stay consistent, or dream up new themes every month. Rearrange your items so they tell a story.

These are all points I've touched on in past posts, but they're all vital lessons and realities that come with successfully renting space in an antique store. All in all, I have to admit that I like reselling in a brick and mortar more than reselling online. There's no photographing, listing, and shipping  hassle involved. I drop off my items, fluff the booth a bit, then sit back and wait for sales! In fact, I'm feeling ready to move up a booth size and see how that goes, I've got more items than I can fit in my booth!
Finding my Booth: Because some of you have asked Southern Crossing employees (thanks for coming in and looking for me!) my booth number is #4504. Simply ask the owners about booth #4504 and they'll take you right to my shelf of kitsch!

Past Antique Store Wisdom Posts:

[2/02/2011] Don't Underprice Your Items
[2/10/2011] Should You Rent a Booth at the Antique Store?
[2/16/2011] Stage Your Booth Like a Pro and Increase Sales 
[3/03/2011] The Answers to Your Antique Store Booth Questions
[5/03/2011] The Four Month Update (A Candid look at my Sales)
[5/11/2011] Finding the Best Antique Store
[6/02/2011] The Vintage Cabin's Expert Reselling Tips 
[6/09/2011] 10 Action Steps to Improve Booth Sales, NOW!
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  1. Thanks for writing this series - has been enlightening to hear your experience. I like what you said about #3 ... we've struggled with that although I believe in it (not continually lowering prices right away). Our problem is usually that we need to keep getting rid of things in order to make room, thus the pressure to sell. I think it might be slightly different when you have a booth vs. online, although the size of the booth (and items) factors in. I think what you said about re-donating items that don't sell - we might need to start doing that more often. I have a really tough time with it.

    The antique booth route is out for us for awhile, but if we ever try it I'm going to come back and read your series again!

  2. Booths in Seattle are so expensive that it has made me think twice about expanding my online shop to a brick-and-mortar store even though I'd really like to.

    What have been some of your surprise sellers in the store?

  3. A La Modern: Donating things to make room is always hard for me too. I have a box of things that won't sell in the trunk. It's hard to bring myself to donate it!

  4. This is so helpful, thanks! I just rented a tiny booth near my home to try it far I've been finding the "off-line" experience really fun! I'll stay tuned for more tips. :)

  5. Bit of Butter: That's a good question! I was going to donate a ripped Chinese paper umbrella but put in the shop for $3. I was surprised when it sold immediately.

    My silly "toy art" (photos and toys I arranged in shadow box displays) all sold too, which was a welcome surprise.

    I have a list of everything that sold up to March here: if you're curious.

  6. Happy 6 months anniversary, Van! This is such good advice for anybody with a small antique mall spot and an entire store(that would be moi). I've found that customers love and notice the small stuff you do as much as any big new items you might have just put out for display. #5 - Tell a story - has helped me so much in getting to know the customers. A display with a story is a great conversation starter. Plus it's a chance for customers to learn more about you, your style and sense of humor.

  7. @Van: What a great list! I really need to be better about doing that...

  8. Diana: Thank you, and your tips are always helpful. Sometimes I want a store of my own so I could meet my customers face to face, I love learning their stories and connecting with fellow kitsch-lovers.

  9. Is there something that sells really well for you? I have sold so many things with owls on it. I just put an owl teapot in my booth at Southern Crossing. Can't wait to see how fast it sells. What sells the fastest for you?

  10. You can look at every sale I've made up to March here if you're curious:

    I'll update on April-June sales next week.

    I thought all of my owl stuff would sell quickly, but a couple of owl pieces wouldn't move for months, even after extreme mark downs!

    It looks like very unique, quirky, and colorful stuff sells for me. I'll have to write an update on sales trends later.

    What else sells well for you other than owls?

  11. Great posting! Sometimes, I get overwhelmed with merchandise, so #1 & #2 were good reminders that "the stuff" is just merchandise waiting to be priced and placed in my booth.

    I LOVE to buy things and I LOVE selling things...and I love not having to be tied down to a retail store, so having a booth is a perfect option for me. :)

    I also took a break from selling online after eight-years...and it's also been cheaper selling at the Antique Mall than selling on ebay too!

    I am open to having a 2nd booth or if the booth next to me opens up, then I can expand to a "double" booth.

    I restock and merchandise 3-4 times a week, plus I post on Craigslist and ebay Classifieds (free) and this has brought in many customers.

    The local Country Register paper is featuring an article on my booth in the next issue, I can't wait to see what type of impact this will have.

    I have posted photos of my booth on my blog:

    -pamela :)

  12. I always love your feedback Pamela.

    Your Craigslist idea, genius! I'm going to have to make posting for my booth as soon as possible and keep reminding myself to list items on it. Can't beat free, and it gets a lot of traffic!

  13. So interesting. I'd love to have my own little booth, but I don't think the antiques stores here in the UK have quite the same audience. Will have to do some research!

  14. well, my childrens book also sell well. But nothing sells better then owls. Sold five owl things this month alone.


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