my five “secrets to success” when selling at an antique market

Marian Parsonsbuying & selling antiques, Running a Business

Many readers have asked, through comments or e-mails, if I could share some of my tips and “secrets” to being successful at an antique market, so I thought I would write a post and share my answers with the whole group.

Here they are, my top five (off-the-top-of-my-head) secrets to success…


Create a Cohesive Look

Remember, as you’re curating for your booth, that you’re not just an antiques dealer selling individual items, you’re a designer who is selling a look.  If your booth is all over the place, stylistically speaking, it’ll be harder for customer to envision certain pieces in the context of their home.  If your space is carefully curated and styled to show each piece in a context, customers are not only more likely to purchase a piece, but more likely to purchase multiple pieces, because they love the entire look.  It’s up-selling without having to say a word.

So, a few things to think about as your curating – color, style, scale, theme.  Have a common thread that makes the look cohesive.  Also think about how items can work together.  If you’re bringing a hutch, what can you bring to fill the hutch.  If you have chairs, what about adding pillows?  Get the idea?



Have Highs & Lows

I am very intentional about carrying pieces at a variety of price points, so anyone can shop at my booth.  I’ve had things as low as $.25 vintage game pieces and as high as a $1,200 tufted sofa.  I know there are some vendors who just carry furniture or who just carry smalls, but I think for most vendors, a mix will bring in more customers and encourage add-on sales to those larger purchases.

Also, make sure your prices are appropriate for the location of the event.  Some areas can support higher prices than others, but a lot of success depends on having prices that entice people to buy.



Tune Into Trends

This one is a bit of a tightrope, because you want to be on trend, but you don’t want to look exactly the same as all of the other vendors who are on trend.  So, I would say “do you”, but keep what is trending in mind.  And look to a lot of different industries for trends, not just the home decor/antique world.  Look at fashion, electronics/apps, the art world, etc.  Inspiration is literally everywhere!

Carry around a notebook and sketchpad to jot down observations and ideas, take pictures of what inspires you, fill Pinterest boards full of colors, textures, designs, styles and ideas.



Pick the Right Event

I think this is key, too.  You can put together a fantastic booth, but if you’re at a show where everyone else is selling used electronics, high-heel shoe chairs, Gone with the Wind plates, tube socks, etc., then you are probably not at the right show.  Pick a good venue that attracts quality, design-oriented dealers.  I also like selling at events where an admission is charged.  You know that people paying to get in are interested in buying at least something!  That also means the organizers have money to put towards advertising and promotion of the event.



Share, Share, Share

This is my best tip to share with you.  Share pictures and details about what you’re bringing to the event on social media or a blog, if you have one.  I noticed a huge difference in my market sales when I started sharing about my pieces on my blog and social media.  When you share the pieces you’re bringing and some details about them, like price and dimensions, it gives buyers a chance to think about the purchase, imagine where they will put it, measure their space, get the “thumbs-up” from their spouse, etc.  They come to your booth knowing exactly what they want and they are ready to buy it.

Sure, people come to antique markets with an open mind, knowing they will “know it when they see it”, but if they know they love your piece, they will make a bee-line to your booth and that’s a good thing for you!

Even if your online following is small, share pictures of your pieces and see what happens!



I hope this is helpful for those getting ready for upcoming fall shows!

I know there are a lot of talented people “in the business” who read this blog, so please add words of wisdom in the comments section if you have any secrets to share!


Speaking of fall markets, I will not be attending the Market on Chapel Hill this year.

I know, I’m so sad about it!  The organizers and vendors are fantastic, but it’s just a long way for us to travel, so we’re taking a year off.  We may be back again at some point, though.

They have a fantastic lineup of vendors this year, though, so I would strongly suggest checking it out if you’re near Pike Road, AL on October 1, 2016.  You can find out more on their Facebook page.

my five “secrets to success” when selling at an antique market

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