As I’ve mentioned how I’m getting ready for the Luckett’s Spring Market, I’ve received several e-mails asking various questions about my process, so I thought I would share the answers with “the group” in the way of a series. I think we’re overdo for some information-heavy posts, anyway! So, here we go…
If you’re happily selling in an antique mall, on Etsy, eBay or maybe just occasionally at tag sales or you have a stash you’ve told your husband will become a business…at some point…you might wonder why you should try being a vendor at a fair.
What is the advantage of being a vendor at an antique fair and is it worth hauling your stuff to an event?
I’m going to give you a very muddy answer. It depends on the type of vendor you are. If you’re really a collector who needs an overflow, so you have an antique booth where things are overpriced and basically don’t sell, so your booth looks the same today as it did five years ago and you’re completely content with that…well, it might not be worth it. If you have great stuff at reasonable prices, you’re most likely going to do very well (assuming there isn’t a torrential downpour or something of that nature.)
The advantage of going to a market is it brings your pieces to a new customer base. Many fairs and markets also charge an admittance fee, so most people are coming ready to buy. Someone might take a stroll through an antique mall to laugh at the price tags on things they remember from their childhood in order to kill some time, but most people aren’t going to spend money to get into a fair if they don’t at least have a little spending money in the budget. You also get the super savvy shoppers who wait in line, strategize and execute their plan with a rolling tote filled with a measuring tape, fabric swatches and bubble wrap close behind.
How do you know if your stuff is right for the market? How do you know the kind of prices that market will support?
If you have the chance, attend the event as a customer to do a bit of recon. Look at prices on items that are similar to what you sell and take notes. Observe what booths are selling well, have a lot of traffic or a lot of sold tags or holes where piece used to be. Stay until the very end of the show to see which pieces didn’t sell. This data isn’t going to ensure you sell every single piece you bring, but it will help you better prepare or know that this show isn’t right for you.
If you’ve signed up for a fair you’ve never been to and you don’t know much about it, you may not know the answers to these questions going into it. In that case, plan on your first year being a learning year. Make sure you have someone to help you with your booth, so you can check out the other vendors when things are slow. Make some notes on what sold quickly in your booth and what received no attention at all. Don’t set high expectations for sales, but consider it a bonus if you do well. That way, you can focus on learning, observing and planning for next year and not how your hourly rate for your time is dropping by the minute and what a bummer it’s going to be to move all of this stuff again.
I learned soooo much the first two shows I attended as a vendor. Things like…
- Don’t clutter up my booth with things I picked up here and there because they were cheap. Those things just diluted my style and made my booth look junky.
- Trust my instincts more and take the plunge on buying statement pieces that will make a big impact in my space.
- Come overly prepared for all kinds of weather.
- Bring double the amount of one dollar bills I think I will need.
- Have a system, so you and your mom don’t sell the same piece of furniture to two different people at the exact same time. (Yeah, that was an awful moment.)
- Think through how the space will function and have some sort of a layout planned.
- Have a nice mix of large, expensive pieces and small, inexpensive items. (I have things for as low as $.25 each year, so shoppers on any budget can buy.)
This is a business where you can do your research and planning, but ultimately, most of us learn as we go.
More to come on this series, but if you have specific questions about being a vendor at an antique fair, leave them in the comments and I’ll try to answer them in future posts.
If you’re ready for more right away, you can check out some other posts I wrote on the subject…