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July 16, 2011

How to Start Your Own Antique Business~Part III~Merchandising, Marketing, and Making Money

We have covered the basics of finding a location and negotiating your space.  We have touched on the administrative end of keeping track of what you are doing, so now we are ready to move in.

Before you even load the truck, price all of your items.  You might think you will do it once your space is set up, but you will be too tired and walk away from it thinking you will do it "tomorrow".  I promise you will be overrun with other dealers scoping out your booth and buying quite a bit of it, so don't miss a sell....even if they are taking it to their booth to resell......remember as long as you get what you want for it, then all is fair in love and war.....just do not come down on your price so they can make more.......
unless  you want to just make them richer. 

Because of the dealer overrun, your first month should be pretty good for you....however, don't think you have it made....it's that way for everyone.  You need to merchandise and market your business if you plan on continuing with good sells.

I recommend the following from the "get go".  Not only do you gain a following, but you get to see just how many people actually stopped to take a look at "your stuff". 
Have a notebook/sign up ledger with a sign asking for emails for advance notice of sales and promotions. This will help you if you move locations or actually do open your very own Shoppe at some point in the months/years to come. Also, run promotional giveaways whereby customers enter a drawing for a chance to win something in your booth or a gift certificate, etc. Include a box which says "add me to your mailing list" and ask for emails only for notification purposes of the winner. Don't ever, ever be afraid to self promote within a mall. Have your own sales and giveaways. It wasn't unusual for me to run a 50% off sale twice a year.....but don't fall into the trap of running too many sales as it will condition customers to always "wait" to buy anything from you knowing you will run a sale again soon. Make it a special event so they look forward to it. This doesn't mean you can't run ongoing sales on various items separately, ie. lamps, linens, furniture, etc........just not a perpetual sale, so to speak.

Merchandising your space is critical to being successful.  I was told once that I gave my stuff such importance with how I displayed it.  I will tell you now that if you are not proud of your things, then other's will not be proud either and just won't want them.  Pay attention to detail, grouping like things or colors together.  Use balance in your area and don't fill it with too many "smalls".  I never, ever like smalls, however, there were some months they paid my rent, so you have to have them.  Electricity is a must for me as I want lamps on inside my store.  The light adds depth and warmth and is so much more flattering than overhead lighting.  It also draws customers into your area which is a bonus because they can just as easily walk on by.....which brings me to my next suggestion.

Pick a day when it is generally the busiest and walk the mall.  Spend sometime hanging around listening to what customers are saying about different things and areas...you will learn alot.  Spend the same amount of time around your space just watching to see if people are "drawn in", or if they shop from the curb and walk on by........evaluate if your area is too crowded....too sparse....or just generally uninteresting.

If you are in what is considered an antique mall, then keep your merchandise vintage, antique, handmade, or remade.......you start putting resin or things made in China in with your inventory, and people will realize they have to really watch what you are selling.  People shopping in an antique mall want old things.....let them go to Hobby Lobby for the other stuff.   The things I make and resell are always made out of old items, and that is fine.....just watch the imported junk as you will be known for that and people will stop looking....even if you have old things mixed in.

Shake your space up at least every four weeks, meaning rearrange your inventory.......it will increase your sales tremendously and keep your area fresh, even if you have only added a few new items.  The "girls" at the mall used to walk by and say...."I can't believe you are doing that again".....they would then complain about their sales.  I learned to simply state back that I could'nt  believe they weren't :) .  I became one of the top five sellers in the mall, an anchor location.....and they quit giving me a hard time.  My point being, the harder you work, the luckier you get.  It isn't just putting things in a 10x10 space, making it pretty, and expecting all to be perfect.  It is hard work, but on the flip side of that coin is the fact that if you need to walk away from it for a couple of weeks because of vacation, illness, etc......it is also very forgiving.  Your sales won't be as good during that time period, but it will take care of itself if it needs to.

I used to put a framed sign in my booth when I was there saying "Have a question?  Have me paged....I'm in the Mall today".........and they did.  Sometimes with a best offer on something, sometimes with just a question, and other times with a special order.....it works.  
 It's like working in your own little store for the day.

I'm certain I have left out tons of things that would help you, but I know I've shared a lot as well.  I sincerely hope this helps those of you thinking about starting your own business within a mall or those just having a hard time. 
I have had alot of individual questions as well, so if you have one.....feel free to ask...
.I will help if I can.

Good luck!

Michella Marie has started a new Link party and I'm adding my "how to" to her
Show Me How Friday


  1. Hi Jana,
    I have really enjoyed reading your series of how to's. I like all your ideas and suggestions on marketing and realize that I need to improve in this area. I think that having a box or notebook on hand asking for the customers emails is a great idea. I'm going to use that one for sure.
    It's funny that you mentioned that the others in the mall would ask you why you worked so hard on your booth, because I get the same question. I try to keep mine changed up every week or so and move things around. So many times I walk around and look at other booths and nothing is ever changed. It looks as though they have the same stuff they had two months ago, and usually they do! LOL!
    Thanks for all the great advice.
    Wonderful posts.


  2. Ok...when is Part 4? Need more.....LOL
    Blessings Abundant...let's just say that your timing is perfect..... LOL

  3. Hi Jana!!! This is so wonderful!! And I agree with Rhonda! When is part four, lol???

    I've been in the business of buying, fixing, cleaning, painting, re-upholstering, re-purposing, etc, and selling for just a few years and I LOVE IT!!! I am so happy to see that I am on the right track :)) I would love to use your posts as one of "My Favorites" if it's ok with you.
    Thank you so much for linking up to my very first party!!

    Show Me How!!! ~ FRIDAY ~
    Tips, Tricks, and Tutorials.

    I hope it will be the first of many!!
    I'm looking forward to this Friday!!
    I hope to see you there!!
    Again, thank you so much :))


  4. I have learned so much from this post...even though I don't have a booth at a mall, this info will help me at my shows! I am all about presentation!

    Miss you bunches sweet one. I am up to my elbows in Halloween goodness for my upcoming show!



Your comments mean alot to me......thank you for sharing.

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