Thursday, May 3, 2012

Antique Store Wisdom: How to Make over Four Figures a Month!


Sweet Carla is a frequent commenter here at Thrift Core. She's said my Antique Store posts inspired her to open a booth of her own (d'aww) at Southern Crossing Antique Mall along with me. When she revealed she made over four figures last month reselling at the antique store I nearly fell out of my chair. Talk about surpassing the muse, I've never made close to that! So I sat down to grill her for her secrets on making the big bucks have a friendly chat.

We've covered much of this before, but let's get back to basics and make that bank!

1. Focus on Practical, Utilitarian Items

In these harsh economic times (ha! had to say it) people are spending less on "creature comforts"- a knick knack that will gather dust on the shelves isn't a justifiable purchase- but a "useful" item may fit the bill. When you resell, focus on vintage items that can re-purposed in the home, like metal baskets.


2. It's a Numbers Game, Remember the Walmart Approach

Carla's sales add up in the end! She uses the "Walmart" approach, stuffing her booth with lots of low-priced merchandise.


3. Focus on Staging

I noticed Carla's booth before I ever knew it was hers. It stands out. She has a good eye for balance and design and stages her booth like a pro. She squeezes in as much as possible while keeping the brilliant tableaux accessible and attractive. Keep experimenting with your staging and find what works for you.


4. Be Unique Through and Through

We all gravitate toward unique items. Don't stifle the inner critic that tells you to leave something strange behind at the thrifts, buy it! You want to stuff your booth with unique finds. Likewise, follow your style to help your booth stand out at the antique mall.


5. Add New Merchandise Twice Per Week

You can't get around it! Add new merchandise to your booth at least twice per week, especially before the busiest days (usually the weekend) to keep things fresh. Restaging your entire booth from time to time doesn't hurt, either!

I know this all sounds trite, but it works, it really does. When I actually buckle down and work hard at applying these five tips I see a big jump-up in sales.

What do you find helps you make the most reselling? Spill! Let's help each other :) Don't worry, I have plenty more creative tips on making money from thrifting to share next time.
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35 comments:

  1. four figures?? that's amazing! thanks for the tips.

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    1. Indeed! Let's all aspire to such greatness!

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  2. Thank you for posting this - it all makes sense.

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    1. Yes indeed. It's just staying on it and applying that tips that's hard :P

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  3. the thrift stores I frequent mimic the big stores: they dust shelves, fixtures, wares; they rearrange; they refresh; and they always have cheap trinkets that are cute that I "must have"; they don't stack out of reach; and everything is priced to sell ("not for sale, for display" is a turn off for me)

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    1. That's no good for the reseller. We like the big dusty neglected places where "old junk" costs a quarter a piece. Luckily, there's still places like this all up and down Florida!

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  4. You know, those were my thoughts. It all makes sense.
    You can not get away from the fact that you have to put work into this to make it pay off. This is not a Set It and Forget It type of operation.
    How nice of you to be such a great muse and mentor that the student is leaving you in the dust.

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    1. Quite right, "Set it and Forget it" and sales will slump. Carla's definitely inspired me to get ON IT with my antique store booth efforts. :) !

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  5. Great advice. Thank you for sharing!

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  6. WoW!! How fun it was to read about our little chat!! I could write many chapters on things I think about and things that keep me awake at night...if I lived alone I would definitely be working all night! Van you were absolutely the catalyst that started it all. I guess I've been a buyer of thrift for so long, I knew what appealed to me as a buyer (think affordable prices, fun and useful product, neat and unique, clean but shabby) and I set these principles to use as a seller. And I want to say thank you for guiding me to a path that has ignited my true calling...something that I am 110% passionate about and something that is awesomely thrilling every time I step on to the path of a dusty flea or a junky driveway sale! I love everythinng about it!!

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    1. You can definitely feel your passion for it! Thanks for the inspiring conversation and helpful tips. I think we're all primed to get busy in our booths now!

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  7. I linked up your post from my personal FB page as well as the Booth #403 FB page....thanks again!!

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  8. question for carla and van- do you have flourescent lighting above your booth? i feel like that really makes my booth look blah! i would love to show you photos of my booth and get feedback if you wouldn't mind! :)

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    1. Yes, the store has fluorescent lighting. It's very bleck :P That's why we're encouraged to add as many lamps as possible to brighten things up.

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    2. Oh, we'd looove to see photos of your book. Send pics to info@thriftcore.com please!

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  9. Good tips! I rent a lot of space at two antique malls and there is definitely a mathematical equation that applies to time spent working the booth correlating with sales. Sometimes just moving something from point A to point B will help it sell.

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    1. I've noticed that, it's nuts how that will work!

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    2. I learned that lesson the hard way. I need to make a trip to my booth at a minimum once a week to tidy, rearrange, and introduce new product.

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    3. Yeeup. I have to make my epic trip to switch out tons of merch today, too.

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  10. thank Van...we are re-staging our booth tomorrow! and the shop is having a "spring cleaning" sale with tables outside. Hope it brings in more customers. Thanks also for encouraging us to buy unique stuff - I worry that because our booth has mod, funky retro stuff it doesnt fit in with the more traditional booths in the shop. The shop owner loves our stuff because it is different but our sales have been so-so. We are new at this (not even a year selling) so hope to improve sales this summer during key vacation/tourist time. Thanks again for the tips. I'll let you know if the sales go up with the new staging!

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  11. her style IS like digging through an attic! i keep wanting to move things around and peek behind and over her items. i'd be drawn to her booth, absolutely! thanks for always sharing your stories and experiences van!

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    1. Indeed, that's another thing about it, it draws you in and inspires you to dig. Gotta work on giving mine that magical quality, too.

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  12. All I have to add is I love her huge booth sign sitting on top!!!

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    1. I agree, pretty creative and bad-ass.

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  13. Great article! I find that on the few months I do hit 4 figures..I always have an "anchor" piece in my room ( somethin a little pricey..but worth it!)...last month it was a craftsman era buffet/hutch with drawers and cubbies.
    Made around 1910 of tiger oak.
    This month Im still searching for my "anchor piece" but having lots of smalls helps as well. You are spot on about the utilitarian items..we learned that when we had out brick and mortar! Good wishes to you!- Alana @Funk Finders

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    1. Thanks for all the helpful tips! I LOVED your booth- you have so much space (lucky!) and it's staged so well!

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  14. Thanks for this! I've been contemplating opening up a online store be it on my own or via Etsy as I've found so many great items that I don't want for myself but would love to place into a home of someone who would, but may not live near where I found it. That booth makes me want to go shoppinG

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  15. My wife and I have had booths for about three months. "Booths" because we keep, "Movin' on up" to better locations in the store. Now we're right by the front door! How? She reluctantly listened to me, her husband! Every time I said, "We need another booth for all this stuff" she'd say no, we'd ask anyway, and voila, spots to move into opened up! I can't tell you why, but being in the very front is paying us back for the pain of moving very well! Why don't people buy from the back, where the snack bar is located? Darned if I know?

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  16. We're doing well with knick-knacks and pretty things in Augusta, GA. Rarely found items such as antique cash registers and coffee grinders sell quick.

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  17. We're doing well with knick-knacks and pretty things in Augusta, GA. Rarely found items such as antique cash registers and coffee grinders sell quick.

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  18. Great advice! I just opened up my booth in Grand Haven, MI and I have used all of these tips! My sales are through the roof. As I told my friend, my stuff doesn't sell in my living room, so I bring it! I am revamping the booth because my partner wants to get her own booth. Our booths will compliment each other very well. I need to work on storage. I have sold a ton of small stuff, including small tables, etc. This is so fun!

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I love reading your comments. Thank you for adding to the discussion! I always reply to any and all questions.

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