Today I’m continuing the series on “show business”, aka being a vendor at an antique show/fair/market. If you missed part one, you can check it out HERE. In part two, we’re going to talk about tagging (branding) and planning the space.
If you haven’t noticed, I’m a little in love with my tag. There’s something very exciting about seeing my logo and name on a tag, hanging from a piece I curated or made. After a few years of tying my tags onto thousands of pieces, that feeling hasn’t gone away.
My current tags were designed by Reni of Bliss & Tell Branding Company. But, when I first started, my marketing budget was zero. You might think I’m exaggerating, but buying a piece of furniture for $50 was a HUGE investment that was very scary to me. I was fortunate enough to have my logo, which I am still using today, designed by a former youth group student. She graduated high school and was studying graphic design in college. She needed projects for her classes and I needed free branding, so the timing and partnership was perfect for both of us.
I couldn’t afford to print a large batch of thousands of tags, so she designed tags that could be printed at home on card stock and punched out.
I DIYed my own tags for a couple of years, but it finally became impractical for me to do everything by hand. When I asked Reni about making tags, she told me that wasn’t necessary. She thought my tags were great. Yeah I did, too, except I had to punch out each tag by hand! The other problem with these tags is that ink jet printed designs will bleed when they get wet or even soggy in humidity. But, you know, I was on a tight budget and this worked for me until I could afford to have them professionally printed.
For a long time I fought having “Miss Mustard Seed” on my tags and opted for the more professional and official name of my business, Mustard Seed Interiors, but Reni finally took matters into her own hands and made these and they just showed up at my door. And I love them. I’ve been tying them with hemp twine for a while, but recently switched to chunky blue & white butcher twine. Every detail matters when it comes to branding.
I also have custom sticker tags with a faded version of my logo with “MSI” over it. MSI was my vendor ID at Lucketts, Chartreuse & Co and Wild Rose. I’m not a vendor at an antique store any longer, but it’s helpful to have everything clearly marked with your branding in case it gets picked up and moved to a neighboring booth.
As an aside, if you’re a vendor please, please, PLEASE tag everything. I know sometimes a tag can fall off or a piece can get missed, but don’t wait until you get there to unpack and start putting prices on things. I had a neighbor one year who didn’t have any tags and people were asking me all day how much this or that was. It’s also annoying as a shopper when you have to ask for the price. If you want people to buy your stuff, PRICE IT! Whew. I needed to get that off my chest, I guess.
Anyway, my tags coordinate with my business card, so there is a cohesive brand theme all over the booth.
I then use large craft paper tags for things like the t-shirts…
…and as sold tags.
They coordinate because I’m using chunky butcher twine, only this time in red & white, so it’s clear the item is sold. I write the name and cell number of the person who bought the item on the back just in case it’s unclaimed at the end of the day.
So, if you can’t get custom tags made right away, there are lots of options beyond the little white paper tags.
One reader asked if I plan out my space before the show by staging it at home. No, I don’t. Just because I don’t, though, doesn’t mean it isn’t a great idea! If I had the space to set it up, leave it up and fill in the gaps up until we pack the truck for the show, I might do it. I don’t have that space, though. By the time we’re packing the truck, my basement has piles everywhere and my living and dining rooms are usually overflowing as well.
I do plan out the space in my head, so I generally know where large pieces will go. I also have a rough design plan in my head, so I know how I’m going to group things together, so they look their best. I feel like I’ve gotten better at this each year and it does make a difference in sales when pieces are staged well.
I try to find one large statement piece like the cabinet pictured above that I bought last year or the gorgeous French secretary that was my centerpiece the year before and a china cabinet the year before that. This large piece anchors my booth and provides a focal point, which was comprised of two 10×10 tents with lots of overflow space around. (This year I’ll have three 10×10 spaces!) I also like to have at least one large table or dining set to use as another centerpiece. I can hang a chandelier over it, use dishes on the table, fill a dough bowl with lavender in the center, use grain sacks as a runner, etc. It gives me more staging options. I then group dressers, chairs, benches, accessories, etc. by color and style to create visually interesting vignettes.
(I switched to white tents last year, because the blue ones were driving me nuts in these pictures!)
As far as the amount of stuff I bring – that’s increased each year. The first year I was a vendor at a fair, I just brought one minivan and two pick-up trucks full. The following year it was two minivan loads plus the two truck loads. Finally, I broke down and rented a 10′ moving truck. The past two years I have packed out a 17′ truck AND my minivan AND a pickup truck! (Oh, and I’ve never had to rent a truck to get things home, thank goodness.)
There really isn’t a right or wrong way to plan your space and there isn’t a set amount of stuff you have to bring. It just depends on your personality, your business, your goals, etc. I’m comfortable working it out in my head, knowing that if I bought everything and made everything, it’s all going to work well together. I also know I have a lot of room to spread out, so I don’t have to be concerned with fitting everything under the tent. Now, if it rains, like it did last year, that throws me off a little. We ended up having to stack dressers under the tent and I wasn’t able to really set up my space the way I wanted. It was a bummer, but that’s just the world of being a vendor at an outdoor fair.
More to come!
(Remember if you have a question about this business to leave it in the comments.)