Thursday, June 14, 2012

Antique Store Wisdom: Answering Your Top Antique Store Questions

If you're dying to rent space in an Antique Mall or Antique Store but don't feel confident yet, this is the guide for you. This is my second year selling goodies in Antique Stores, and I'm still learning every day. It's a unique challenge that keeps me satisfied while putting money in my pocket! It ain't easy, but I love it. 

Here are the answers to your top Antique Store renting questions: bookmark this post! It's your handy dandy guide to success!

Will people break your items? 

I've had a few breaks, but most of them were because I tempted fate balancing an item precariously... Don't be like me! Hang and present your items with care and you'll have few issues.  Oh, I'm also outlandishly clumsy and break my own things once a week or so...

Does the antique store give you tax forms? 

The ones I rent out of do not, it will be up to you to report your earnings to the IRS. (Need reseller tax tips? I answer your questions here!)  

How many antique store booths do you rent out of? 

Two. One in Southern Crossing Antique Mall and another in Treasure House. They are located next to each on busy, pretty Park St. in Jacksonville, Florida.  

How often do you visit your booths to switch things out? 

At least twice a week, and I'm getting in the habit of adding new items out front as often as possible. I live in walking/biking distance of my shops and have a flexible schedule so it's not too difficult for me.  

How big are your antique store booths? 

They are both very small, about the size of your standard booth shelves. My Southern Crossing one (below) has some space for me to place items on the sides as well.

[This is my booth fresh after changing out the merchandise for Father's Day. I can't wait to make plans and continue to improve it!]

How much do you pay per month to rent space? 

 I pay $53.50 at Southern Crossing Antique Mall and $36.00 for my space at Treasure House.  (See my Treasure House space here)

Would you recommend renting space at two different Antique Malls?

I'm enjoying it. Different stores have different demographics and rules. I like to switch items if they won't sell at one store and experiment.

Where exactly do you make all of your sales anyway? 

I sell in Southern Crossing, Treasure House, a little of Craigslist, and on this blog. I'm working on setting up my Etsy shop and an Ebay shop, but they are not finished yet. It keeps me busy! I am never bored!

Do handmade items and art sell well at antique stores?

Hell yes! Actually, some of my best months is when I had my quirky original toy art and other goodies in the shop. I definitely need to make more of it.

So what are your future plans for your antique store booths?

Total Rehaul, baby! I want to add more toys, bright colors, pop culture, and really make it stand out as the Thrift Core brand.

How do I find the right antique store to rent space from?

I've got a whole article on that right here for ya! If the price and foot traffic is right, go for it!

Any Tips for Improving Sales?

Absolutely! My friend Carla makes over four figures doing this! Read her tips here! The brilliant Becke of The Vintage Cabin has Expert Reselling Tips you should check out as well. Don't forget my 10 Action Steps to Improve Booth Sales, NOW!

Want more? You Can peruse all of my past Antique Store Wisdom posts here.

Got anymore questions? Tips to Share? Let's Discuss in the comments!
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.


  1. this is so timely! i just signed up for a case at one of my favorite stores (i don't think i'm ready for a booth) and i start july 1st! i've been going back reading all your antique store wisdom adn i hope i'll be successful!

    1. Good luck! Please follow-up and let me know if the tips help.

  2. I'm thinking of a booth over here in the Tampa area and this is very helpful!

    1. Glad it helps! Good luck to you. I need to visit the Tampa area next time I'm down south to see what their thrift and antique stores are like...

  3. Van, this was totally the kind of post that got me started!! I've always said finding your blog in conjunction with my own personal passions and love of all things thrifty is what got me started and has made me successful. I would say that having an eye is helpful as well as being realistic with your prices. I do my best at bargaining for the best buying prices, but always being polite, so that I can pass a good deal off to my customers. Sometimes if a price isn't moving an item, I actually physically move the product and lower the price. Maybe a buyer has been waiting for a markdown and will snag it the next time they come in. I've had frequent customers tell me they visit twice a week to see what I've brought in, which is a huge compliment. My passion and craziness has expanded my booth space now three times...beginning with 3 feet, moving to 5 feet and in July I will be taking a huge leap and moving to a 4.5" x 6.5" space. Wish me luck!!

    1. I definitely want to reproduce that success ;) Glad you're doing so well, your passion really shows! Love the advise you've shared here, I've neglected my booths a bit working on other projects but I can't wait to incorporate more booth antics into my schedule.

  4. Very interesting tips, as usual~
    I'd love to be able to do this here in Los Angeles, but it's much, much, (much, much) more expensive to rent booth spaces here. I'd love to try it sometime, though!

    1. That's what I've heard. It looks like there's a huge love of mod and art deco out there and a lofty price tag to go with it!

  5. Great post! I am in Massachusetts and just expanded into my 3rd shop and after doing this for a while there are 2 key points from this post that folks looking to get started really need to think about.

    First, WHAT are you selling and WHO is your audience. Look at what others are selling in a shop and for what price. It may be a reality check when you have a lamp or piece of pottery you think is worth quite a bit when it may not be that rare or valuable at all. It also helps to ask the shop owner who are the top sellers in the store. Watch them for a few weeks and see what they sell, at what price, and ......

    Second - how often the items are updated. If you really want to be successful you need to bring in new items at least once per week and reorganize your booth at least 2x per month even if it is the same ol stuff. Move items from a shelf to the floor, one side to the other, or even take it out for 2 weeks and then bring it back. It is amazing how many things will sell after moving them to a different location or even a different store.

    I have several booth shots on my Facebook page and always post new pictures of my finds before putting them in a shop. It may also help to see what is hot in other parts of the country. Good luck, everyone!

    1. Thanks so much for selling so many helpful tips, I agree with each one. I just got back from switching out/rearranging every single item in my booth! I can't wait to see how it helps sales over the weekend.

      I'll keep working on it and seeing what works.

  6. This post couldn't have come at a better time for me, we've been on the list at one of our local antique malls since November & they finally had an opening! We move in on July 1st, I'm excited to be able to sell some larger items & nervous with, "what if nothing sells!?" thoughts ... but I'm sure it will be educational & fun no matter what!

    I've been reading through all of your tips over the past week since we got the call, thank you for being so helpful & full of so much information!

    1. Good luck Poppy! Have lots of fun. :)

    2. Way to go Poppy!!! It's so awesome getting the call and dreaming of the possibilities. One thing I think that helps too....spend time at the mall, don't just drop your items off and leave, walk around, see what is being offered for sale, see what the customers are walking around with, overhear their conversations, look at prices, see what items are being displayed in multiples (I try to buy things that aren't being offered in my neighbor's booth), chat with the girls who work there....soak it ALL in!! And don't forget to ask questions!

    3. Yep! I hear everyone talking about buying home decor items at both stores. Mirrors, lanterns, chests, large suitcases...a lot of people are looking for unique things with patina to add personality to their homes.

  7. I definitely want to skip a booth & open a shop. I bought turquoise metal containers, missing one, but a shop in the vintage area of the city was selling the same set, missing one as well, for $75! A set of 4 Anchor Hocking dominos cereal bowls for $60... (I buy these for $1-$2) & I am guessing this stuff sells since it disappears. Pyrex sets go from $40-$100. Outrageous prices that the hipster kids will pay an arm & a leg for...

    I am aiming for a simple consignment shop, since I imagine renting out booths may be somewhat like subletting..? I can't afford to own a shop downtown..

    So when something breaks in the store, it's your loss, right? Always curious about those $500 items.. like WTF if they break?

    1. Yep, it's my loss. I do wish people had to pay for breaks, I do think they're required to if it's entirely their fault and a large ticket item. Luckily, breaks rarely happen. One time I didn't write that a basket of cups needed to be lifted from underneath and all of the lovely coffee cups tumbled to the ground below.

      I wouldn't put $500 items in the antique store booth...hmmm...I wish we could have a high ticket priced antique store around here but I think the competition's low prices would have us keeping prices low to compete.

    2. Found Again TreasuresJune 15, 2012 at 12:25 PM


      One word of advice or thoughts around opening your own shop only because that's where I thought my goals were about 2 years ago. I was waaaaaay wrong.

      I am a picker - I need to be out in search of the hunt every weekend as well as auctions during the week. If that sounds like you, the last thing you want is to be sitting in a shop waiting for customers. You also have a huge overhead (rent, utilities, insurance, property taxes, etc.) to overcome before any profit. I have 3 10X10 booths and my rent is $325\month before I make a profit - probably less than 1/4 of the fees it would take on a monthly basis to own a shop. Just my 2 cents.....

      Hopefully whatever decision you make is the right one for you but I realized quickly it wasn't the right move for me.

  8. I'm closing my resell booth this month after about one year of trying. Another job opportunity has come up so it has left me with little time to attend to my booth, which is needed to be successful.

    I had a hard time adjusting down my prices to meet the market where I live when I could sell the same thing on etsy or ebay for double if not triple or more what I could in the retail booth. Also, things sat around a lot longer than I hoped for too.

    As Found Again Treasures said, you have to be realistic in your prices and stock your booth with the items people want. Mod and colorful items don't do sell well in the store I'm at and that's what I stocked. The lower priced $7 and under metal, rust, items is what did well in the mall I'm at. Not my forte and partly the reason why I'm leaving as well.

    All this say, I would still love to have a booth and may still consider renting out a few shelves just for fun once I have a little free time in my schedule again.

    1. The "junk chic" rusty items do better here as well, I suppose it's what people envision when they hear the word "antique". I price items to the prices I could get on Etsy and if they don't sell at those prices I take them out to list them on Etsy later.

  9. Very nice! I am looking for this type of info and sometimes I get lucky like today...:-). Thanks for your post.
    Cotton Bags

  10. I agree with Jay. I have 2 Ebay stores one for Antiques and collectibles and a record store. Theres no way I could make the money I do in a spot or store. Last year I made a forray (sp?) into Etsy but they are no way near as automated as Ebay nor do they have the customer base so as a matter of economics it was not worth my time or effort to sell there. That said you really need to start your stores. Truthfully I started by just listing stuff 10 years ago. no need to start with a full blown store. Just get over that fear of bowing to the evil internet Ebay gods and dip your toe. I started by purchasing low cost boxes at auction and listing stuff. It gives you a good start without investing alot.You wont make much money at first but as your feedback goes up and you understand the marketplace you can be sucessful. You just really need to move the internet sales to the top of your list and start. Trust me I dont mean to tell you your business but I have read your blog for sometime now and do enjoy it. I just see you putting so much effort into your business Im always caught wondering what you could accomplish if you grabbed those girl balls and jumped onto the internet. Soooo many customers there just waiting to buy.

    1. I know, right? My girl balls are formidable, I promise. I'm nuts >:) I'm set back by having too much on my plate and not being able to get to the online listing yet. And as you can see by all the haul posts, I have toooooons of merchandise to organize before I get started, otherwise I won't find anything when the orders start.

      I loooooove the advise, I will come back to this comment. Thank you for sharing!

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  12. can someone tell me how much money i could make working at an antique store please?

  13. Do you have some advice on how to re-claim control and organize inventory that's at home, waiting to be taken to the store? We have two booths in a mall and we also sell online. It's getting out of hand.

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