Lucketts lessons learned

Marian Parsonsbuying & selling antiques, Running a Business27 Comments

Lucketts was a whole new ballgame this year.  Not only was it extended to three days, with a VIP day on Friday, but the hours were longer.  As I was preparing, I knew I needed to fill my booth like I never had before, so it wouldn’t look pathetic on Saturday after the Friday shoppers hit it.  So, my preparations were more focused and intense than they had ever been.

It all started back in March with weekly shopping trips to my favorite haunts and working on furniture that had been in “the studio stash.”  I also started trolling Craig’s List daily and put the word out to other dealers I buy from that I’m gearing up for an event.

I had some wonderful luck finding French chairs, but I was coming up empty when it came to dressers, buffets and small chests of drawers, which tend to sell best for me.   It was just a few weeks before the event and I was getting nervous about it.  How could I finish all of this upholstery work in time and where will I put all of the ironstone I was finding if I didn’t have tables, dressers and buffets to put it all on?  My “luck” changed and I found seven pieces in one day and then five more a few days later, all for great prices.  Lucketts was really shaping up.

Me, Kriste, Megan and my mom spent hours in the studio, sitting on little chairs and wheeled stools, painting, sanding, and oiling pieces.  Removing hardware, cleaning drawers, stripping chairs, sewing miles of welting…

We started crossing more off the list each day until there was nothing left to do.

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Well, that’s a part of my problem.  I always find more to do, but I have to draw the “I’m done line” at some point for my own sanity.  So, I declared us done.

When it was all packed together in boxes, rows and stacks, I was pretty impressed with us and how much we accomplished.

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And then it was just me and all of the stuff in the quiet of the studio and I had to figure out where to put everything and how we would even get it all down to Lucketts.  We rented a larger truck.  I put a plan on paper and numbered strips of tape on each piece, but I still didn’t know how it would really work out.

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That’s when the doubts started to creep in.  Was it too much?  Was it not enough?  Would this year be a failure?  I had so much furniture that it couldn’t possibly fit under my three tents.  What would I do if it rained?  Thoughts like these can make you crazy.  They made me a little crazy.  I had to take a deep breath, pray and wait to see how it would all unfold.

We were able to get everything down, even though it took a 20′ truck, two van loads and one car load.  It did rain, but at the perfect time, when we had sold enough to be able to fit everything under the tent.  As far as gross sales, it was my best Lucketts ever.

The extended hours spread out the customers, making the entire event more relaxed and I think much more enjoyable for the shoppers and manageable for those running the event.

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It felt a little strange for the Mustard Seed Interiors booth, though.  We’re use to a huge rush, a frenzy, and long lines.  This year, there was just a steady stream in the mornings followed by lulls in the afternoons.  We all felt a little anxious, seeing things without sold tags on them, but the sold tags got tied on, just not all in one hour on Saturday morning!

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Now that I’ve been through the event and had a chance to take a breath, this is what I’ve learned…

1.) I did bring too much stuff.  Not TOO much more, but I will scale back a little for next year.  I brought 28 large pieces, 14 French chairs, several benches, stools, chairs, sleds and crates, 10 hand painted signs and over 500 pieces of ironstone (and we think it was even more ironstone than that!)

2.) When the customers are spread out, we don’t need as much help.  Every year, we’ve needed more help to handle the crowd that descends on my booth.  We learned that a few years ago when it was just me and my mom working out of our aprons.  We were mobbed and woefully unprepared.  We needed about 9-10 people to run my booth last year.  I think we could’ve gotten by with 4-6 during the busy times this year.

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3.) Ironstone plates are not the best thing to bring to sell at a market.  I had stacks and stacks of bowls, platters and plates and I think it was just too overwhelming to customers.  Not just the selection, but also looking through them all.  We had to stack them, so we had room for them, but that meant someone would have to rearrange a whole stack of ironstone and sort through it if they wanted to buy something.   I’ll bring some plates next year, but I’ll focus my buying on small pitchers, sugar jars, tureens, etc.

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4.) I need to get more organized at the checkout and wrapping station.  I brought tons of paper shopping bags that we had to store and keep dry and it was too much.  I also need to give my dad a shrink-wrap allowance. If he wrapped one of your purchases, you understand what I’m saying!

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5.) We need to get a tent that is one piece and waterproof.  Right now we’re using shade tents that are only water resistant and they need to be covered in one, huge 30 x 50 tarp when it threatens to rain.  It’s just not very practical and it’s time for an upgrade.  (I will be selling two of the tents, so let me know if you’re interested!)

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6.) If every I find another antique chicken incubator, I need to buy it without hesitation!  I could’ve sold that thing 10 times over.

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Despite the drenching rain on Saturday night, the hot and humid weather throughout the weekend, the tense packing Sunday evening, and the overall uncertainty going into the event, everything worked out really well.

And, after about a 9 1/2 month break, we’ll be looking forward to next year!

Lucketts lessons learned

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27 Comments on “Lucketts lessons learned”

  1. Glad to hear you were pleased with overall show at Luckett’s. I’ve never been to that one, but it’s on my bucket list!
    Thanks for sharing your tips on preparing, loading, traveling and setting up for the show. There’s always something to learn with each new experience, and I appreciate you sharing your thoughts with us so that we can use your ideas if and when they apply to us. I’m loving the idea of the packing plan on paper with numbered tape strips on each piece for loading the trucks. How simple but helpful and effective that seems to be.
    I’m hoping to get a vendor spot at the Market on Chapel Hill in October, so I will tuck these tips into the back of my brain for when I need to get to them!
    Thank you.
    Judy

  2. I am happy to hear that this years show was overall a great success for you. I know how hard you and your team work to prepare for it.

    As a shopper, I was very pleased with the new format that included longer hours and the addition of a VIP day. It definitely made for a less “zoo-like” atmosphere on Saturday morning and I am sure the organizers got a lot of positive feedback after this years show compared to previous years.

    I did notice when I left on Saturday afternoon that you still had a large amount of Ironstone platters and plates left so I think you are spot on about bringing only a select number of these next year. The sugar bowls and pitchers seemed to go faster and I was happy that I was able to get one of each.

  3. How much were you wanting for one of your tents? Are they for local pick up only?

    I wish I could’ve come to Luckett’s this year. Every year, I tell my husband I want to go…maybe it’ll happen next year!

  4. I came to the event with my sister on Saturday. I had my eye on a few small things I knew you were bringing and they were gone by the time I got to your stand. The larger pieces were absolutely beautiful but sadly unaffordable for me. I wanted to get something to use as an inspiration piece to take with me…..because I knew that we could only buy so much but everything was just a little to expensive for me. I love the blog and love reading about what you do. I save my favorites for my idea wall. The pennant bedroom is one I would like to do for my son. I did have a lot of success at the Luckett’s Store finding some great inspiration pieces that were wallet friendly. I took pictures of things I loved so that I can try and do something myself. Hopefully I’ll be ready next year.

  5. My big sale is always follows Luckett’s and I always look forward to reading your tips…I am in the home stretch this week with my sale Saturday–which is the ONLY reason I will not be doing the retailer get together Thursday at Ironstone Nest….insert sad face….. I am just sick about not being there to meet you in person………fingers crossed mine goes as well as yours!
    chris from Midwest Cottage and Finds

  6. I hope to do some flea market shopping this summer. I think you have an incredible selection of quality items.
    My obstacle is the time of year this is held. End of school year obligations make the trip difficult. For the lucky people living close it had to be a great market!

  7. Oh Marian! You crack me up! After watching you set up for Chapel Market last year, I am certain that you were super prepared! We always get nervous of the unexpected but as usual you nailed it! Once of these days I’m gonna get to Lucketts!

    Thanks for sharing the photos! Such fun!

  8. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post today. I am currently preparing for an antiques flea market coming up in my area in California for the first time. I too am a bit nervous about the pieces I have and although it is only for one day, I wonder if I have enough to hold me all day. I will continue to stop by your blog because your work is great!

  9. Glad it was a good venture after all your hard work! I must have missed a post as I do not know who Kristie is….

  10. I would happily buy some ironstone plates if you have a bunch needing a home! Will you post leftover items to sell at a later date?

  11. Marian – I am SUPER impressed that you design the layout of your booth before you go! I try that for every show but it just always seems to be more “on the fly” than organized each time. I do a few shows each year and really enjoyed reading your tips. Some day hope to attend Luckett’s…each year there is always some family obligation going on that weekend but someday I will make it happen. Looks like so much fun!

  12. Chicken incinerator (before my glasses) Incubator – yep, put me on that list! I am still sad I wasn’t there early enough on Friday!

  13. Don’t touch your Dads shrink wrap budget! My plans of keeping my set of 6 plates safe with me on the plane were dashed, and my bag sent to the mercy of handlers at Reagan National, O’Hare and finally on to Iowa. They were firmly and carefully packaged and INTACT! Kudos! When I see them in my kitchen, I smile thinking of my wonderful trip to Lucketts.

  14. Its so nice to see/read that as professional as you are at all this you are still learning as you go along and talented as you are you are still limited by such things as luck, and what’s on craigslist. I love to see how supportive your family and friends are of you as well. You’re a lucky duck to have people around you willing to help you fill two vans, a truck, etc (basically like helping you move) twice in one weekend.I loved reading about it and maybe one day I’ll get down to Lucketts myself.

  15. So glad it went well for you and I still love reading about Lucketts! The prep, the furniture, the packing, the show, the end result – it’s all fascinating! I have yet to do a show, but would like to one day. I know I will never be as prepared as you though 🙂 You have fantastic organizational skills! And if you ever come to NW IN – I have a perfect green incubator for you. I have sold two and no one seems to want this one and I love the green! Take care – love all your posts!!

  16. Since you didn’t sell your ironstone plates well at Luckett’s, I’m wondering if you are open to selling/shipping a few to me in Colorado? I have looked and looked here (even have a connection in the antique world), and they are very difficult to find! I recently found a stack of five that were in rough shape (and not the “cool” rough, if you know what I mean), and they were highly over-priced. It’s possible you have some in your online shop, but I can’t seem to get there on the mobile site. Thanks for any help you might give! I can order off eBay, if needed, but thought I’d check with you first, as you may have a surplus! 🙂

  17. Good evening Marian,
    What were you and Kristie doing in Wisconsin recently? Had you been in the Milwaukee area you could have checked out the goodies in our barn…but no chicken insulator! On another note, thanks for informing me that you sold my chair? to someone locally. I’ll just have to get to Luckett’s next year because not only is it on my “bucket list” but hubby owes me for missing this year’s event. In the meantime, find a whole bunch of French chairs as I aim to own one or two. I do love all the effort that goes into each and every one; you’re aware that you possess the Midas Touch do you not? Not everyone has that and I speak for myself although I’m quite handy with not only a glue gun but also a paint brush on small items only! Thank you for keeping me up to date with your emails….

  18. I love this round up of assessing what you learned. I love your success too and almost wanted to not see your beautiful pieces sitting in the gravel and under tents! This must be a great venue for selling your pieces!

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