Friday, October 12, 2012

Cheater's Guide to Antique Booth Victory: 6 Crucial Start-Up Steps

You don't know what will sell, or where to start. Renting space in an antique mall is an intimidating and rewarding adventure. I recommend it for anyone who wants their vintage, art, or hand-crafted merchandise to reach a new audience.

Cell Phone Photos: My Thrift Core Booth on the left and Rosaly's Old Skool Junk booth on the right.

Don't be scared, be victorious! Rosaly (Old Skool Junk) and I used our collective years of experience selling our wares everywhere to scribe this crucial start-up guide. Use it for profits and triumph!

1. Gather: Ensure You Have Enough Merchandise

Many antique malls will let you sell practically anything! Whatever you choose to sell (your vintage pieces, art, handmade jewelry or accessories, sky's the limit!) make sure you have ample stock to fill your rented space.

2. Select: Choose the Right Store for You

The right store for you is well-known and busy. Scope it out on the weekend and busy shopping days to ensure it gets decent foot traffic. The store will have reasonable rent within your budget.

3. Prep: Buy Supplies, Measure, Take Stock

Determine your limitations with merchandise and staging. Take detailed measurements of your space. Comparison shop for supplies, buy frequently-used necessities (like price tags) in bulk, make spread sheets, write your business plan, and take detailed inventory. Do all of this before you set up shop!

4. Design: Go With the Flow of Your Merchandise

Create unique displays that go with the type of merchandise you sell. Hold pieces in baskets, tins or suitcases. Hang hooks with easily-removed nails or double-sided tape. Strive to make quality, attractive displays and use every square foot you rent efficiently.

5. Customize: Think of Your Space as Your Own Shop

Dare to be bold! Name your space and use a sign that stands out. Use color and lighting to your advantage . Even something as simple as a carpet on the floor can make your space your own and draw shoppers in.

6. Adapt: Anticipate Ups-And-Downs, Adapt, Evolve

Sales, and exactly what sells, is unpredictable. Keep close track of your sales to determine what you should keep buying while you're out thrifting. Change your merchandise and displays frequently, slash prices if needed, evolve and adapt to stay afloat.

You'll never know if your merchandise will sell in a store if you don't try. Be dedicated, give it your best effort, and provide a superior experience for your shoppers and you will be successful.

Antique Booth owners- what are your tips for success? Got questions? Let's discuss in the comments.
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24 comments:

  1. Van,
    Once again...a masterful post! I just sent it to my sister...for inspiration! Thanks to you and Rosaly!

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    1. Glad to help Crystal, hope your sister finds it useful!

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  2. Great tips! I've been on the waiting list at a few antique malls and I've almost given up it is taking so long. Did you have to wait to get your space? Maybe it's like that everywhere, but it seems super competitive here. One of the malls I'm on the list for told me they have to ok almost everything you sell, and that seems like a hassle. Is that the standard or are they just super picky about merchandise? I've never had a booth before- total newb. lol :)

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    1. Most stores around here have shorter waiting lists than most, since people tend to move in-and-out frequently. I did follow-up frequently which likely helped me move up in "line" on the lists.

      Having malls okay every single item you sell isn't the norm here, but shop owners will let us know if they feel like something big won't sell and will just take up space since big items are placed in front of the store or in community spots, using up valuable real estate.

      Each shop is unique with different rules and customers to adjust to.

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    2. We are opening our first booth on Nov 1st and are so excited! I mainly sell on vintage paper ephemera on ebay,so i thoguht Id sell the other stuff I find in a booth. Any tips are appreciated!

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    3. Good luck, Paul! Have you already thought up displays that will help shoppers flip through the paper ephemera you have to offer?

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    4. Hey Van! I dont think I will be doing much in the way of ephemera there. I do well with it on ebay so dont need to sell it there. I will probably have books and postcards though.

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    5. Oh okay, mis-read that, looked like you said you were selling ephemera in the shops. Other than the tips in this post, I'd talk to the owners of the shop you're trying to rent space from to get an honest answer about whether your merchandise is a good fit.

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    6. I have been in there many times. I think I will do fine. My stuff wont be overly high-priced either. Im lucky I can get my stuff for a very fair price. :)

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    7. Sounds like you'll do fine. Let me know how it goes, Paul!

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    8. The mall needs to keep control of what is being sold. If not some some sellers will clutter the mall with garbage.

      For example, one booth renter here filled his booth with cheap rubber ducks, dollar store lamps and a fish tank. That directly effects the mall and booth renters because when cutomers are greeted with garbage they are not likly to return to the mall.



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    9. A lot of the shoppers here don't mind that junk approach. Our least curated antique mall is the one that does the best.

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  3. Will do and thanks! I love talking to other people in the same boat. :)

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    1. Me too :) That again shows your have the passion and guts for it. It ain't easy!

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  4. What's that sweet Snoopy in your booth, Van?

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    1. He's some random 1940s toy, but I sell him in the booth 'cause he's in baaaad shape ;) I love him, I'm not sure about his purpose, all he seems to do is flip make-believe flap jacks over a fire.

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  5. Great post Van!!! I love reading tips like these just to make sure I'm still doing what I'm supposed to be doing. =) I would say passion plays a HUGE part in my success....I take pictures of my booth after every visit and actually "study" them on days I'm not there. I think about how to move things around, what items I need to mark down, what items I need to move out, what items I have in my stash that might look good displayed with another item, etc. I make a to-do list and get busy. While I have fun shopping and discovering new vintage, I also have just as much fun displaying everything and seeing it SELL!! I would also encourage someone interested in renting a booth to actually have a short but sweet conversation with the mall owner. Sometimes if that person sees a "fire in your belly" your chances to move up on the list might be a bit greater.

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    1. All very true, passion plays a huge part in the success of any new business venture. You can tell how much you love every part of what you do!

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    2. Loved reading your post, Carla G. I have had a booth for 9 months and I love it!! I am very passionate it as well. I do all of what you said you do. I too constantly think about how to re-arrange items and I rotate my stock. I usually try to buy as inexpensive as possible so I don't have to mark my items sky high. I want my stuff to sell, not live in my booth. I do this for fun, not to make a living. The mall owner is very encouraging and helps me to know what sells and what doesn't.

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  6. I have several articles on antique booths that offer a lot of information, except for the bookkeeping end. What do most do to keep track of the paperwork? Is there a recommended software that works well? I have have software that geared towards a mall but not the individual dealer.

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    1. Each mall handles bookkeeping differently. The ones I've been in do not report your income to the IRS. They simply provide you with a sales slip that details the amount you made, itemized by the item that sold and what it sold for. It will usually show your gross amount, then the amount after their fees were removed.

      It's up to the seller to keep track of what sold and report expenses. I do this with a simple document I keep on google documents and on a spreadsheet I printed out.

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  7. Thank you for this! "Don't be scared, be victorious" will be my new mantra! I'm sorta freaked out at the thought of going out and doing this, but if I never try, I'll never know, right? I'm an opinionated shopper, which I think will make me a good seller. I know what I don't like about spaces (like not being able to get into an over-stuffed space, no prices, dirty items) and I know what I do like. My space will be a mix of repurposed items, furniture, and my artwork.

    Do I need to register with the state? I know state taxes will be paid by the mall owner, but I'm thinking I need to register a business name and do the whole quarterly taxes thing.

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  8. if I want to have a catchy name for my antique booth do I need to register a name?

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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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