Friday, July 5, 2013

Small Biz Changes: Saying Goodbye to my Bigger Antique Mall Booth

A quick cell phone shot after the exhausting effort of tagging and filling the booth to the brim with merch.

I just moved into my larger antique mall booth a couple months back and now I'm moving on out! I'll miss it, but sometimes you have to try something before you determine it's not right for you. Here's some reasons why I'm giving up something I'd wanted for a long while:

1. Furniture Elsewhere: I sell furniture better when it's staged out front, in the store's common area, or via Craigslist. Paying a lot more for a space furniture isn't selling from is no good!

2.  Better Online: I can sell my type of groovy mod finds for much more online. A lot of my smalls will sell for 4 times or more than customers in Southern Crossing would pay! And because I'll sometimes have finds in Southern Crossing and in my Etsy shop at the same time (Yep, bad idea) I've had it sell in the antique mall for far less than online! Heartbreaking!

3. Damn. Exhausting: Filling two booths and an online shop with merchandise on top of side jobs and projects was draining. I still want to write my ass off and create more. It just didn't feel right. It's been giving me negative mojo, I say! I was pouring energy into the wrong area.

I will miss having a large space to brand and play with, but keeping my initial small spot in the best decision for me. It gives me a spot the brand and "advertise" my online shop and blog in Southern Crossing while making money from small and furniture bits scattered throughout. With small business these days when it's harder to make sales, you always have to evolve and try new things. Over the years I've learned to let go of what's not working and not feel bad about it!

How are your small biz adventure going? Running into challenges during these slower sales months? What are your strategies? Let's discuss!
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34 comments:

  1. Live and learn,nothing wrong with that!
    All those reasons are pretty much why I haven't moved into a larger booth. Mostly in my case, the pressure to keep it well stocked and inviting keeps the booth small.
    I have a big item for sale on Etsy and in the antique space. It makes me very damn nervous I tell you!
    I hope this change brings you some relief!

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    1. I feel the same way. The pressure to have to keep buying new stuff to keep all avenues full and the limitations of the space are not working for me. Was worth a try, but it's not for me yet.

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  2. Van -

    I had the same situation. I gave up my LARGER booth at one antique mall, because it was hard to keep up once I opened my own B/M store.

    Of course, when I could no longer give my dedicated attention and energy to it...sales suffered and it became a tough decision about letting go.

    The booth was in a prime location that EVERYONE wanted and I painted/decorated it with elements that I couldn't take with me...not valid reasons to hang on.

    With my B/M store and a smaller {more manageable} booth at another antique mall, my sales are doing well. Plus, I also sell online too ~ I agree with you, some items fetch BIGGER bucks online than in an antique mall. :)

    pj

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    1. Big spots are hard to come by in my mall so it hurts to give it up but I know it's the right choice. I feel like I'd do better with my own small brick and mortar.

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  3. Sorry to hear that you are closing down your larger booth at SC. I enjoyed seeing your wares in both places. I am not sure why your furniture items didn't sell from your big booth. I have always found that when people are looking for something specific, they will find it no matter where it is. I have a hard time selling some large items only because I feel furniture is so prevalent in our mall....you really need the unique items to stand out and be different. I have also had very good luck with selling items up front, but at a lower price. I also try to limit my items to one at a time (on the porch area) because I know the owner dislikes an overwhelming amount of product from one idividual booth renter.....rather, she likes to give everyone an opportunity (as least those are my observations). Kudos to you for knowing what works for your personal priorities and going with it!

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    1. I talked to Candace about the furniture selling better our front and she also assured me most shoppers will buy your furniture no matter where it is. For me universally it seems to do better out front, even at the other stores I've sold in. It can sit in the booth for a while and then sell instantly once it's out front. It could be the type of furniture I select or randomness but that's what my research dictates. I also try to keep the stuff out front to a minimum in effort of fairness. Thanks for the tips, I need to remember to select more unique items. I don't have storage space or a truck so I normally only select small pieces I can easily carry myself, that will fit in the car, and that I can store in the apartment.

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    2. Something else I have noticed as it relates to furniture....the buyers want updated pieces, painted, etc., and when I buy a piece it has to be incredibly low priced before I invest the time in it and try to make a profit. There are two booths that do high volume sales with painted furniture and I can't compete. They are constantly cranking it out and bringing new pieces in....it's incredible! It's definitely a family affair and they do amazing work. But, my goal was to have everything in my booth available for sale, so I must use furniture to display my smalls.

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    3. I've noticed that, that's another problem for me as an apartment dweller with no lawn or workspace, not as easy for me to sand and upgrade furniture. Lots of points against me for being super successful with the standard formula in this mall, haha.

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  4. I have had 300 square feet of space in an antique mall (3 contiguous spaces) for about a year and find that furniture moves slowly, but does eventually sell. I was considering condensing back down to two spaces, but realized I'm selling a LOT more smalls from the large space than I did from my single, then double, spaces (I've been in the mall for almost 2 years and expanded quickly).

    For me it's about being able to merchandise effectively - more space gives me more options, and the large space really draws people in. Buyers tend to be in and out of the small spaces in the mall I'm in, but spend a lot of time browsing and commenting on things in the large spaces. Keeping things well stocked is a challenge for sure but, for now at least, bigger is better for me as far as sales go.

    As for online sales, yes, the prices I get online are often much higher, but I like having most of my inventory displayed in a retail setting rather than stored in bins at home, waiting to be purchased, packed, and shipped. I have "online items" that I would never offer for sale at the shop because I know I wouldn't get the price I want, and "shop merchandise" that I don't bother listing online because I know it will sell quickly to a buyer in-person. It's a balancing act, and a lot of work as we all know!

    Thanks for posting about this - it's interesting to hear other dealer's experiences. Being flexible and figuring out what works for you in your particular mall is the key to success (and sanity!).

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    1. Thank you for sharing your story, too! I think with my new space stuffing it full and having room for people to actually walk in to shop was a challenge, too. Your story gave me ideas for staging the booth for this last month I'll be there. Haha, watch me get happy with it before it goes and then want it back ;)

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  6. I went to an interesting antique & collectable store entirely filled with smalls. It was fantastic! Really, it makes sense.

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    1. Smalls are my favorite part of malls. Even when I was a casual browser years ago I'd look at the smalls and didn't even see the furniture. Unless it was the grooviest Jetson's style mod stuff which I rarely see anywhere.

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  7. Sounds like you made the right decision. You don't know till you try!

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  8. I'm so impressed that you didn't wait a super long time to listen to yourself. I'm working on that right now, and you've given me some food for thought. Thanks Van :)

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    1. I really wanted to but it's not working with my current goals, I've learned to make the hard choices fast and not agonize for months like I used to. MUCH happier this way!

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  9. Good on you Van for making the decisions that are right for you and doing them without regret. Often I think we can dwell on the things that haven't worked which blocks us from moving through to some positive energy where ideas and solutions may come to us.

    As for my little world with my little business here over in Oz. I'm doing ok. As you know I'm very close to having baby number three right now I have a lot going on non-selling side of things with my whole business. All the blog development stuff is happening relationships with brands and pr is going behind the scenes. That doesn't mean I haven't been selling I have and I've been doing ok and I've also been selling off non-business specific pieces (things that don't fit the vision for Etsy). So whilst I'm getting the Etsy store sorted I've been selling furniture and the non-Etsy pieces off elsewhere and things are going well it's all cash flow baby. I do agree furniture is better off on the likes of ebay to be sold, I just sold a 1970's teak armchair atomic style with surfboard shaped arms for and incredible amount after what I got it for.

    Overall I thinks it's so important in these economic times to ensure your businesses have plenty of dismisses to which income can be streamed in.

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    1. All good points, thanks for sharing your story. For your eBay furniture sales, do you ship them globally? How does that work? Curious about that!

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    2. Re: furniture salsa, they are mainly local pick up, with an inclusion in the listing we will deliver to selected areas for a fee. I also mention that interstate buyers are welcomed but will need to arrange freight/shipping themselves.

      I'll look into perfecting this in time, but for now furniture and larger items seem to turn over pretty quick even with local pick up and provide a good boost of funds for continuing to expand my stock levels of specific stock for the business.

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    3. Thanks for sharing the tips, I wouldn't have thought of eBay as a good solution for selling to locals but it sounds like it has a lot of potential!

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    4. Well at least here I've found it's handy. I use ebay personally for home too. I use the search by distance function and depending on how much and how big an item is (and if it's an investment piece) it will influence how far we will travel to collect. A,doing we collect on a weekend and we've travelled 200 km fr something will generally tie it in with an excuse for treasure hunting in an unknown area for us.

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  10. I have a double booth. I expanded a little too quickly, but my real downfall was expanding at the wrong time of year last year. Summer is hard. I am just really feeling it the past two weeks... I was pretty good until July hit. Plus, I am trying to really tweak the vision for my shop/brand. For me, part of what adds to me wanting to stick it out with my booth is that the store I am in has such unrealized potential.

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    1. My store has EXCELLENT foot traffic and dedicated customers, part of me really wants to keep the booth because I know summer months are just hard but looking at it realistically it's got to go for me to hit bigger goals. If you feel like you're making the right choice, you're likely on the right track. It's good to get in on an emerging store, it can pay off big in the end!

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  11. All the conversation here has inspired me and makes me want to keep the booth, oh noes! ;P

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    1. Don't let me add to your indecision, which you are totally entitled to, but I had my BIGGEST sales month this month with my expansion. I thought about it long and hard, a week to be exact. I was presented with the offer to expand by one shelf or two....and, as you know, I went for both! I worked my booty off this month and was happily rewarded with a terrific paycheck today! So many possibilities with moving your product around, inviting the shoppers "in" and bringing new items in as well.

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    2. I haven't been having big months with the extra addition of my larger booth unfortunately. And I said I'd give up the booth last month so it may already be taken ;p Last month wasn't good to me. We'll see what happens. I do love having the extra space to play with but with more sales coming from things that weren't even in the big booth it feels pretty pointless to pay more for it.

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  12. you're just a inspiration to me! We don't have anyplace with booths near me-closest is 45 miles...NO GO--I am buying and getting ready to start listing soon--it's the packing and shipping part that is tough for me--a space to work in the house is hard to come by right now

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    1. Storing and finding places to work in the house is definitely an eternal challenge for a reseller, but the online audience and money-making potential is awesome. I love it :D

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  13. I'm glad to hear that you decided to let go of your larger space. I know sometimes it can be hard to make changes to what you've been doing, but like you said, you need to be honest and make the decisions that are right for your business. One of my old business coaches has a favorite quote that has become a helpful reminder to me: "Money likes speed." The faster we make the right decisions, the faster we'll make money. It's been a hard lesson for me to learn, but I've taken it to heart now.

    Sales right now for me have been pretty good. I attribute it to two things. I recently revamped my eBay store categories and redid the keywords that eBay sends out to the search engines. It turns out that the more categories you have in your store, the more likely buyers will find you via the search engines. The second thing I attribute my sales to is - surprise, surprise - I've been more consistent with listing new merchandise. "The more you list, the more you sell."

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    1. I haven't heard that term but it's definitely something you learn. I've stopped agonizing and have become more decisive and it's just a big load off, and more sales are coming in, too! I'll be listing and writing like crazy this week! I need to change around keywords and experiment on Etsy, too. And set up the eBay shop... :D Exciting.

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  14. Thanks for this post! I am currently debating the exact same issue, and reading your thoughts and the comments have helped me tremendously. My mall has much better traffic during the summer, so I took a second booth that came available next to mine. I decorated and it looks totally cute, but the numbers just aren't adding up. The actual time that goes into stocking and maintaining a booth is enormous, and two booths is twice the work.
    I hear you about online sales vs in person. Any cute strictly decorative item goes to the booth where the browser can see it, listing something like that on ebay or etsy is a waste of time. Anything with a 'name' and a following goes online since with such accurate search engines collectors from all over the world will find it.
    My next level is cross-promoting. Getting my in person customers to find my blog and my online followers to come to my shop or visit me at a show.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your story, and I'm glad my words have helped you. :) I'm doing the same thing, I'll be cross-promoting my web presence in my booths and locally more. Sometimes a few little fliers in the coffee shop can lead to sales.

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  15. We are at a similar point with our antique booths. We opened a second booth in May and we've managed to support both of them, but after two space rents and commission we're making pretty much the same profit for twice the work, so we'll be going back to one space. I'm kind of bummed that it didn't work out, but I figure at least we tried it out- nothing ventured, nothing gained! When it comes down to it, you have to do what makes sense.
    Anyway, I love reading your blog and I appreciate all of your advice on business and reselling. Thanks Van!

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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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