So for the last year or so, our family has worked together to run a little antique booth at a local vintage shop [HERE] called Sailor Antiques in Claremore, OK, and it has been quite the adventure! While I definitely don’t claim to be an expert, there are a few tips and tricks I’ve uncovered along the way, and if you’ve ever thought of renting booth space at your local antique shop, maybe this can help! If you’re a vintage lover like me, my guess is your garage is spilling over with treasures that were too wonderful to pass by…but it’s gotten out of hand, ha! A small booth is a great way to purge the garage AND continue the glorious hunt for vintage treasures that is quite the addiction in and of itself…😉
TIP 1 – DO YOU, MAN…but also do research.
After choosing your booth location/shop, next it’s time to fill up the space with antique finds and goodies! The best part! However, it can be a little overwhelming trying to decide what to buy and then sell or part with from your own stash. For me, I decided to stick with things I love and believed others would love, too! Like I always say over on IG, do you, man! But also…do some research. What’s popular in DIY right now? What vintage trends are showing up on Instagram and in magazines these days? While most of what I sell in my booth is simply what I’d like to (or have!) put in my own home, I also keep an eye out for fun vintage trends, too!
TIP 2 – BIG, MEDIUM, SMALL
Another tip I’d add in as you round up items for your booth is something I learned the hard way upon starting: the big, medium and small theory. I made the mistake at the first by filling my booth with either mostly big, awesome show-stopper items OR by filling it with only smaller, easier-on-the-budget items. What I’ve since found is that it works best to do probably 50% small items (ex. dishes, books, spindles), 30% medium items (ex. accent tables or chairs chairs, signs, printers tray) and 20% big items (ex. chippy doors, larger furniture pieces).
More often than not, people only leave with a few small items and call it good. Here and there depending on the piece, my medium sized items will find a new home, and then less frequently, the largest items will sell. Of course, the profit is higher on the larger individual items, but since they don’t sell as quickly, I earn most profit on the quicker turnover of “smalls.”
**Extra tip: always have at least one or two medium/big items stored and ready to fill a large hole left by the purchase of one of your booth items! I’m not drawn to emptied booths personally, and I’ve seen the most sales when my booth is full and full o’ options!
TIP 3 – EASY + ENJOYABLE EXPERIENCE
Next, it’s time to actually price and set out our items, so where to put them? Personally, I prefer a full booth but not a super cluttered one, and I’m especially drawn to ones that are easy to pass through and in which items are easily accessible. I try to keep an open space in the middle of my area, or if something is featured in the middle (say a fun farm table), then I make sure to keep the area surrounded my center focal piece clean and clear for an easy and enjoyable trip around the booth! Some people don’t mind the clutter, and a little digging is part of the fun of vintage shopping! But I will usually enter booths that are open and airy vs. crowded and crammed any day.
**Extra tip: consider adding inexpensive shelving to the walls of your booth, or, if you aren’t allowed to put nails in the walls, maybe source some NFS (“not for sale”) display pieces that come with shelves. This will help add surface area on which to display your treasures for sale without cluttering up the floor too much!
TIP 4 – BRANDING BRAIN
Even though it’s just a very small booth within a larger antique shop, I like the idea of keeping a mind toward branding to create a cohesive and unique vibe. For instance, my girls earn a little fun money by helping me stamp my logo onto price tags, and I later add the description and investment on the back. My personal brand is obviously Cotton Stem, so I include, you guessed it😉, a few cotton wreaths or stems to further enhance the branding vibes.
Another way to think of branding would be the types of items included in your booth. We can’t be all things to all people, nor can we be expert treasure finders of ALL types of treasure. Do you have an eye for vintage mommin’ related items, like antique high chairs, used children’s books and games or furniture that could be repurposed as kids’ playroom props? Boom! Branding. Are you an expert DIY’er who personally loves repurposing outdated furniture with a coat of chippy chalk paint to give it new life? Branding! How about your penchant for unique dishes, hand-made vintage ceramics and ironstone? Yep, branding. The booth doesn’t have to ONLY be these things, but if we can use the booth’s items and item placement to help customers see the potential uses for these pieces by repurposing them or grouping like items together for a seamless theme, I feel like that equals more sales for my family’s booth!
**Extra tip: add ambiance! Don’t need to spend a fortune, but I know I’m personally way more drawn to booths that are styled instead of cluttered and those where there has obviously been some effort put toward creating a lovely experience while shopping: twinkle lights and lamps, a custom booth name sign above, or even soft music playing in the background from a discreet radio. 😉 Just some ideas!
TIP 5 – DO THE SHUFFLE!
This is a tip given to me by the awesome owner of Sailor Antiques and Collectables in Claremore, OK (hi, Ms. Brenda!) where my booth is located: simply moving items around every week or so increases sales! The essence of an antique store is stuff, stuff and more stuff, and sometimes the eye can miss the perfect piece on the first or second pass through. Simply shuffling item placement on shelves or on the floor has resulted in an item previously gathering dust being sold like that!!
**Extra tip: consider shuffling not only item placement but item price, as well. If an item hasn’t sold in awhile and you’re ready to move more pieces in and need the space, perhaps discount the item or create a fresh price tag with a lower price. Might catch a new eye or entice a previous looker to finally grab it up for themselves!
Hope this was helpful, pals! Again, not saying I’ve got this gig down pat just yet; I’m learning along the way each month! And if you’re ever in my neck of the woods, head over to Claremore, OK to Sailor Antiques and maybe you’ll find me knee deep in treasures and dust. Perhaps I’ll put ya to work, ha! 😉