14 Tips on How to Open an Antique Booth
My love of antiques all started with one woman. My mother-in-love. She has been a collector her whole life and with two gifts from her early in my marriage, I was hooked.
One from her…
And the other handpicked by her as a gift from 007.
How could you not be hooked by this face? Her name is Wendy and she is both young and old.
Years later, when Pinterest came about, my sister, Kiki (her childhood name) and I became addicts! We started a small decorating business, along with my youngest sister, Kellie, and were on the brink of opening a home staging business in our hometown, when Kiki’s husband was offered a job in another state. We loved shopping in antique stores, thrift stores and flea markets. I miss my sisters. I miss our shopping excursions and the thrill of finding something that we could transform into a gem.
So, I decided to open my own booth in an antique mall. It was a way to stay connected, in a sense, to my sisters and continue the fun of treasure hunting. I’ve learned a lot in the 8 months since I started, so I thought I’d share a few tips with those who might be thinking of opening their own booth.
14 Tips on How to Open an Antique Booth
1. Go slow, start small.
One mistake I made was not planning the overall style of my booth ahead of time. I purchased items that I thought would sell without thought to any type of theme or style. Now 8 months later, I have items that haven’t sold and don’t really fit into the overall look I am going for. On the bright side, my customers get great prices as I work toward my new look.
2. Investigate mall policies and amenities.
If there are multiple locations for you to choose from in your area, be sure to investigate each mall and what all they have to offer. I now have two locations and love them both. One is open 7 days a week in a prime location not too far off the interstate. It has lots of booths with lots of choices in antiques and current trends. The other mall is open 6 days a week, and 30 minutes longer per day than the other. It also has lots to offer with creative, friendly booth owners, daily email with a list of items sold that day, and a monthly sales event with extended shopping hours.
3. Buy smart.
Choose your display cases, shelving, and lighting, to fit into the overall look of your booth. Purchase items that offer beauty, style and function. I was so excited to get started, that I didn’t give a lot of thought to how I might display hanging items. I bought white pegboard and installed it right away. Since then, I’ve fallen in love with booths using reclaimed wood, shiplap or lattice as their walls. At the very least, I wish I’d painted my pegboard and still plan to do that soon. When purchasing for your booth, shop estate sales, thrift stores, online resale sites like CraigsList, VarageSale and auctions. Make bi-annual trips to market, focusing on items that fit your style and aren’t sold in local big box stores. We can’t compete with Wal-Mart or Hobby Lobby.
My booth, the first month.
4. Set a budget.
There are booth owners who start with as little $100, but honestly, I don’t see how. Pegboard or similar materials will cost that much. A more realistic number is between $500-$1000 to get started. That does not include rent, commission or advertising.
5. Avoid huge project pieces, unless it’s something you love to do.
I originally bought several pieces that needed painting or updating in some way, just for the fun of it. I now recommend starting with pieces that need little-to-no work, so you can concentrate your energy and time on setting up your booth. Work on projects to fill in as you sell items.
6. Plan the style of your booth.
Use your own distinct personality and taste. The name of my blog, decorating style and stage of life have everything to do with the style of my booth. CoziNest was born out of a need to refill my empty nest with new loves. So, I wanted my booth to reflect this. The goal is to feel cozy, portray a sense of nesting and offer pieces that create a comfortable home with a mix of antiques and current trends. Birds gather twigs, strings, and feathers from other locations that make their nest uniquely theirs. An osprey nest is different from that of a seagull, yet they are both seabirds. To help you get started, scan booths you love and incorporate items that match your look or style, without encroaching on their personal style.
7. Design your price tags.
Purchase a die-cut, cardstock, ribbon or twine and a hole punch. Stay with a predetermined color scheme for a professional look. Or, you can order tags from someone like VistaPrint, or make your own on the computer. I do a combination of all three.
8. Decide on a price point for your merchandise.
Is your merchandise high end? Bargain-based? Or somewhere in the middle? I like to remember the Hobby Lobby ideal. I want to pass my savings on to my customers, so they’ll come back again and again. I have some items over $300, but most are below $100.
9. Create a spreadsheet to keep up with cost and profit of merchandise. This helps keep track of what sells and what doesn’t.
10. Curate your social media pages.
11. Restyle your booth at least once per month.
12. Keep it clean.
13. Items that sell: I’ve had success with storage items like baskets, canisters and tables with drawers. Greenery, footstools, vintage bottles, galvanized watering cans and farmhouse decor are all quick sellers.
14. Items that haven’t sold well: Upholstered furniture and mismatched dishes.
Do you love antiques? Was it due to a gift from a loved one? We are all on a path with a purpose. I found mine awfully late in life, but God’s timing is always perfect. I hope this has been helpful if your path leads you to open an antique booth.