Monday, February 28, 2011

Updated Advice from a Seasoned Antique Dealer

for today's blog post, I'd like to share several tips I learned when I rented a booth in an antique mall. These can be applied to other ventures as well. Let me know If you have any tips & tricks and I will add them :)

  • Lighting: Its essential that you have a mood to your booth, what do you want the customer to feel when entering ? If its an extra cost its well worth the price. Don't just rely on the Mall's lighting.

  • Tagging: Please  tag your items with a string tag . If you chose paper tags, place a piece of tape over it, so one can't remove the tag. If you have crappy handwriting, have someone else write the tag. Details of the item; source, year, history, where purchased etc... will boost not only the value but the customer will feel confident about purchasing from you.

  • Honesty: This is crucial, if you are to be taken seriously & respected, honesty should be your middle name. If you don't know the value or history of an item, Research it ! If I couldn't find info on an item, I would say so, the tag would read "What is this?" with a small pad and pencil next to it. People loved that !

  • Color: This is often overlooked by many dealers. Remember the eye focuses on one color. If you sell mostly furniture, often only one color dominates, think about adding a vase of flowers  (not  tacky fake flowers you purchased at the dollar store!) , using colored tags made from pretty decorative paper (use the same paper for all tags) or placing a blanket, table runner etc... draped across a piece.

  • Smalls: This is a word antique dealers use to describe individual pieces. If you sell mostly smalls in your shop, group them together by color, subject matter or price. Place items in an area where one doesn't need to dig through, bend over or risk breaking. Think of creative ways to display, go online google antique malls (under images) for ideas.

  • Booth: The most successful booths in the Mall were the owners who consistently  rearranged & refreshed their items. This is essential  for many reasons. It gives the customer a fresh eye, inviting them to come back in and browse, it shows that you care about the appearance, cleanliness and are an active members of the shop. Think of this as rearranging your living room, and not another boring chore !

  • Pricing: I maintained a booth for five years, but once the price of gasoline rose, and people began to realize that we were in a serious downfall, I chose to close and sell online. Remember antiques aren't a necessity. Choose your prices based on what the market will bear for your area. Adjust according to not so much the value of what it once was,(most pricing books are outdated) but what your willing to accept & still profit. Antiques increase in value but not in a market where we are all broke... If you have items you paid too much for, remove them from your shop or sell them online etc..., we all need to make a profit but if sits I longer than say six months, reconsider your options.
  • Marketing: There are endless & inexpensive resources for antique dealers to market their shops today. Don't  rely on the Mall for advertising, put yourself out there and MarketMarketMarket! Join online groups that cater to a specific topic, items or associations, Create a Facebook Fan page, open an account on Twitter, have business cards made with your website on them, volunteer to speak at groups about your experiences, business or to educate. Join Women's Groups that cater to small businesses etc...
I hope that these Ideas  can be applied to your ventures. If you have any suggestions to share, please leave a comment. Thank you