We took the plunge earlier this year and took our hobby and love of holiday decorating and started our own small business. Excitedly we signed up for our first vintage market show and eagerly began planning and strategizing for it. Little did we know that even the best forethought was not enough.
There were definitely things we wished we knew going into the first show that would have saved us so much frustration and sore bodies!
So I compiled a short list of the top 5 things we learned from our first Vintage Market that has changed the way we have done the last few.
Lesson #1: Get an Apron!
Having had zero experience selling anything at any type of market we thought we only needed a place to safely store our funds. We definitely were not prepared for the massive roll of bills that get exchanged out during a show. It was such a struggle trying to use a cash drawer or in our case a vintage metal tool box to keep going back to for change.
Now I have the cutest little red bandana apron that I got off Etsy! It has big front pockets for not only cash but the miscellaneous tag or pen that I need to use quickly.
Lesson #2: Wear Proper Footwear!
During my first market I was really nervous and wanted to look my best. I thought a cute little outfit with cute heals would give me confidence. After about 2 hours of standing my feet were dying and I was cursing my cute outfit. I know its silly but now I wear the most comfortable shoes with extra padding. No one is looking at my shoes anyway!
Lesson #3: Everything in the Booth Should Be for Sale
In preparation for our first Market I bought the cutest little red metal buggy that would hold our old Prince Albert tobacco tins perfectly. Since it was not vintage and a reproduction I felt it was disingenuous to have it for sale so I put "Display Only." Well so many people came by wanting to by that buggy and it was disappointing to them to find out it was not for sale. I could have sold that buggy a hundred different times. I probably should have just let it go but I still clung to the idea that since it was not vintage I should not sell it. Now I just use it at home and I don't even bring it out anymore.
The buggy was not the only item in our booth that was display only. I had found this amazing vintage book that had a perfect title for our brand, The Lady of the Decoration. The book has become somewhat of a good luck talisman for us and I take it to all the shows. Other vendors have tried to buy it from us several times but I simply cannot part with it. Also paired with the book its a tiny abacus puppy. This child's toy is always picked up and played with by many who walk by. He is also not for sale and it nearly broke my heart to tell a young girl that. The look of disappointment in her eyes was tragic and I am not going to bring out the puppy again.
If you don't want to part with something it is best to leave it at home. You don't want to disappoint your customers and ruin their experience at your stall.
Lesson #4: Double check for Price Tags!
Not only should you have everything for sale in the booth but it is much easier to price it before you get to the market without the pressure of a buyer right there. We found several items that we missed pricing during our first show and trust me it seems the customer will always pick up an item that is missing the price! Then you are trying to come up with a price that covers costs but in that moment you just can't remember what you got the item for in the first place. We lost some money on some items for failing to price ahead of time when we knew what our cost into it was.
Also check for price tags from the thrift stores or garage sales you get the items from. We missed a couple old price tags from the goodwill store on our items and it made us look really bad in that moment. Its embarrassing and inevitable the item does not sell. The experience was ruined for the customer when they thought they found a treasure that turned out had made a stop at the goodwill before it came to us to be cleaned and fixed.
We pride ourselves on the curated feel of our pieces. Sometimes we find pieces at an estate sale or a garage sale down the street and other times a thrift store has hidden treasures. Wherever we find the piece is inconsequential to the customer feeling like they found a treasure so me make sure now to inspect all of our pieces before they go to market.
Lesson #5: Take Pictures Before the Sale
I often forget to take enough photos of all the enchanting items peacefully awaiting discovery. It is not often that we have all our pieces out and cleaned and ready to be showcased so its crucial for later use to get pictures before the rush of the market. Not only do I miss out on showcasing our items ahead of the sale but I forget later how items were arranged and how well it worked. Having a picture reference for the next show is always extremely helpful. We don't always want to duplicate the set up for each show but have hints that items should belong together.
Recap of the Lessons!
1. Get an Apron
2. Wear Proper Footwear
3. Everything in the Booth Should be for Sale
4. Double for Price Tags
5. Take Pictures Before the Sale