Tuesday, September 10, 2013

To Sell Online or Locally?: How to Decide Where to Sell Your Art and Vintage

One of the top questions I'm asked is, "How do I decide what vintage pieces I should sell online or in my antique store booth?" common variations include, "How do I decide if I should sell at an art market versus renting space in a store or selling online?" Here are a few factors to consider:


1. Try It All: You can't know if something is a fit until you try it. You may be a natural in one venue but detest another. Don't try to fit in where you wouldn't naturally. Cut venues that don't work for you, and keep trying new avenues.

2. Ease: Sometimes making the choice between online or offline is simple when you factor in ease. If  you're selling huge, heavy items like furniture local may be the way to go. If you have a high volume of lightweight easy-to-ship collectibles online should be simple.

3. Your Vision: Sell where you truly want to and where you feel comfortable. Go with your passion. If it's not working, try re-branding and switching your strategy to make the venue work for you.

4. The Market: I find it hard to sell the small vintage items I love to collect locally so I list them online. As suggested above, I'm playing with branding and strategy to change that. For now, it keeps me in business. Sometimes you've got to go with the (cash) flow until you're selling in your ideal location or venue.

5. Grouping: Sometimes it helps to determine what you'll sell where by separating it into groups. Maybe you'll sell your up-cycled jewelry and dresses in a trendy clothing boutique, your kitchen housewares in an antique mall booth, and vintage books in an online shop.

Tip: This may seems like common sense, but it helps to go where the buyers are, especially if you don't have an established audience of buyers yet. You may really like a certain venue but put stock in what will be successful as a beginner.

The best advice I can give here: be yourself, do what feels right, and go with the flow. Don't give in to the pressure to provide exactly what's trendy in your area. Sell what you truly love, and keep experimenting until you find the right venue for that unique story you want to tell with your merchandise.

How do you determine what you'll sell online versus offline? Let's discuss in the comments.
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27 comments:

  1. Thanks for this. Do you recommend eBay or Etsy for online?

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    1. I have another post on this coming. I surveyed some more experienced resellers and they recommended beginners focus on making one venue successful and I chose Etsy. eBay has more buyers and more money-making potential but more frustration, cost, and work. Etsy is an artsy marketplace with nicer buyers but it's up to you to market and get eyes on your products as they are less buyers than eBay.

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  2. Van - Good info!

    It sometimes depends on the items. If priced right, items could sell quickly in my booth/case. Or if they are items that I don't want to bother with shipping {bulky, too delicate, etc.} I sometimes post the items on Craigslist or eBay Classifieds {not regular eBay} and the antique mall will ship the items on my behalf, including taking payment, shipping, etc.

    Items that will fetch higher dollars get posted on eBay. I have better selling success on eBay than Etsy. Once again, it depends on the items. I have made handmade items that sat for months on Etsy, but SOLD right away and for more on eBay. Go figure. LOL!

    I love both eBay and Etsy!

    pj

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing the experience PJ! You really have to be open-minded and try different options, you never know what will work. I think we've all had similar experiences. with things selling immediately where we didn't expect after they sat unsold somewhere else for months.

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  3. A lot of times size is a big factor for me. Sometimes it's too big to go online and too small to go in the booth. It also depends on what it is made of too. I'm nervous to ship large glass items like Pyrex so those usually go to the booth.
    Great info Van!

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    1. Thanks for sharing more info! At the moment pyrex almost NEVER sells in my booth so I've learned to bubble wrap THE HELL out of glass (I've had a couple heart-breaking breaks) to sell it via Etsy. I'm meeting with a carpenter today that may help me re-brand the HELL out of my antique mall booth. I'll report on whether this helps increase my local sales :)

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  4. Wish there was an antique mall nearer to me. I would like to try that, but since there is not, I'm stuck with Etsy for now. Also want to try Ebay for some newer items. I admit I'm getting tired of the shipping part of online selling. Am trying to limit breakables!

    Thanks for the blog visit. I'm glad casual hair is in too! I still eat the kid cereal-- shame on me!

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    1. I've accepted my fate as pedantic bubble wrapper, you get used it ;p I'm hoping with an exhaustive booth revamp I can start charging more locally. We'll see how it goes.

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  5. I've found that a god mix of online and offline works well. And I've found that certain things sell better at one vs the other. Cuff links sell great online, but I've yet to sell a pair at a local show. And sports mugs sell better locally than they do online.
    Like you mentioned, it takes experimenting to see what sells where and learning as we go.

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    1. Thanks so much for the detailed tips! Love your cuff links examples, I can imagine that it's such a specific niche item that it would be hard to sell in a general shop, but great for online buyers. I sell mod mugs and books like crazy online and can barely give them away locally.

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  6. Great post Van. It is common sense but if you're new to the game, it's great insight.
    I could agree more with your points, it is trial and error. I learnt quickly where my buyers are and my stock is somewhat broken into three categories for three different avenues or locations for getting a sale. They being weekend vintage markets, online (Etsy for me) and physical in store location (florist...selling newborn/infant pieces, which is only a small portion of the type of stock I have overall in my business).

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, it seems like common sense once you've been selling but with the volume of questions I get on this it's clearly a beginner problem worthy of discussion. I love that you branched into the florist, I can't wait to make some displays and start pitching my wares to boutiques I love :)

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  7. As to what kind of items sell in a booth, I think it all depends on your location and what kind of 2nd hand shop you are in. That in itself is a learning process.

    Not just anything will sell at my booth, but I can sell anything on line. I like/need the diversity of working different venues.

    I have also learned that certain items sell better on Ebay while other items sell easier on Etsy. Etsy is my choice online venue. I don't have much luck with Ebay anymore.

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    1. Thanks for the insight! Very true, you have to think of the wants for the particular store you're in.

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  8. Sometimes I come across super cool items that are not vintage and something not really sellable for a good price on craigslist. I am in thrift stores almost on a daily basis, sometime I come across things I cant resist and I don't know what to do with. I got this really cool, brand new IKEA lamp. Not one that I am interested in keeping for myself, but I knew I could turn it around (I really don't want to deal with ebay, I already have 2 etsy stores)I got this lamp for a couple of bucks, Its discontinued at IKEA, so people were getting big bucks for it on ebay, I sold it to this group I know that sells stuff on ebay and they just flat out pay you half of what its selling for. so I walked in, dropped it off and they gave me $35 cash. No listing, no fees, no wrapping to ship. Just quick cash in my pocket. I have also sold them new graphic novels, wrapped toys etc. Stuff I find at thrift shops in my shopping adventures. They make money, I make money, we are all happy. Too bad I don't feel like dealing with Ebay, I swear I'd make a killing!

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    1. I've heard of such awesomeness, need to look into that! These days it's me who buys items and/or does the dirty work for others on commission. Would be nice to load some off on others when it's getting rough. Thanks for the awesome tip!

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  9. It's a work in progress for me as well. Between my booth and full time day job my online selling has fallen by the wayside. I always get a higher price when I sell online but it's the hassle of shipping that always burns me out since I'm normally selling glassware items.

    The booth is much easier to sell but I have to price aggressively or people just don't buy! I'm moving more and more towards just selling in my booth and only listing items online that will get at least $50 or more and are easy to ship.

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    1. My booth has shriveled and online sales have become the focus, I've even gotten use to the crazy hassle of bubble-wrapping the hell out of 25-piece sets of glassware. So exhausting, gotta do some this morning!

      The booth is easier to sell but the mall I'm in is so competitive with prices it's hard to keep up in there. I'll rarely sell glassware in there which is most of what I buy. I'll keep trying ;p I'm working on rebranding and revamping the booth right now and hope that'll allow me to raise the prices.

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  10. This is great Van! I loved reading through this article and the comments. I'm constantly going back and forth between selling locally and online (both vintage and my handmade items). Right now I also do a mix of both. It's easier in many ways to sell locally, (not having to list and ship items and run the risk of them breaking, etc.) but the audience is so much bigger online. It's hard to know what the best venue is sometimes.

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    1. It really is. This week Imma be bad and list things both online and offline it looks like. For the same prices so I don't cry too hard if something sells online and not offline.

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  11. Things go for a higher price online, but some things, like the big and bulky furniture go straight to the booth. There is no permanent answer. I have fellow antique mall dealers and it is a constant process of evaluating and reevaluating... I have heard from lots of people that Ebay is where the real business is online but I can't stand the layout/format.

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    1. Excellent answer, you summed it all up perfectly. I'm deciding right now what will go online and offline from the latest haul. I'm told the same about eBay but hate the layout/format too. Need to try it as soon as possible though, maybe I'll test the waters today...

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  12. Online selling will be a better option as in that case you are getting a global exposure for your product. Whatever be the product I think promoting it through web or online will gain more targeted traffic and ultimately more revenue for you.

    indian sarees online shopping

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  13. I'm solely an online seller, so I don't have any experience selling offline, but your point number 2 makes a lot of sense. Plus, a lot of online buyers will balk at the higher shipping prices for larger items - unless of course, they're highly collectible - and will want to pay less for the item itself to offset the cost of shipping.

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  15. I think that if you wanna open a store you gotta see the costs of it and if you can afford each month to pay rent, water, electricity and to make sure there's money left for you to LIVE and not survive.

    But there you go, everything you make with passion and love will work out.

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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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