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July 28, 2011

Do You Believe in Karma?

I bet you are no different than me when I say that
Sometimes I just give up on the human race.
Especially if you are in the service industry or work retail....
They are in one word.....GRACELESS.

But then there are other times that I am amazed at their
Generosity, their caring nature, and their overwhelming kindness....
And fortunately for me, it has been one of the latter weeks.

Three different customers brought me things this week....
Just because they knew I would appreciate them,
Because they knew I would use them,
Just to be nice.
 Knowing I love velvet, these bolts of vintage velvet ribbon
Were given to me....just because.
 The lace came from a little elderly couple that knew my affinity for old lace and textiles.

These sweet little necklaces were  inside an old velvet pouch.
Upon closer inspection, they are 14k and just precious.
They had belonged to her great grandmother and no one wanted them anymore.
Although I don't understand that,
 I have learned to accept people's feelings and try not to judge.

But the very, very best surprise of all was the little
Victorian mesh handbag
the necklaces were tucked inside.
I had a "suck air" 'moment on this one.

I don't know why this happens,
but it happens a lot and I am very grateful.
I like to think it is incoming karma
for all those good things I do....
it keeps me doing them anyway :)

Thanks for stopping by today,
You know I love it when you come.
If you visit here and choose to follow....
Please know I always follow back :)

Stay Cool!

July 27, 2011

Now, I Call This Love......

Before the very first Le' Pre'miere Showcase I wanted a whole
Vignette done in bird nests......
Not "store bought" nests, or even nests I had made.
I wanted the real deal.

I passed a tree each day that had tons of them tucked inside the branches.
It was in January, so they had been from the previous summer and had long since been abandoned
by their residents.
I kept asking my sweet man if he would  help me "harvest them".

Now, he will do a lot of things for me,
But I could tell this was something that was going to embarrass him...
You know how  men can be.

With the swimming pool pole, I journeyed downtown to gather my bounty...
He came along, but wasn't happy about it.
Needless to say, it did not go well. 
The bird nests started coming apart as they fell  into my hands.
We spent two hours and got one nest.
I was crushed that my idea had not worked.....
And he was glad to finally get in the car to go home,
Telling me the whole time how silly this was....
"Who,  just who, needed bird nests anyway????"

Over the last several months he has surprised me
With the beautiful nests below.
He always comes in, holding them as though they are gold,
And very gently places them under my glass cloches.
His hands are big, and his touch is clumsy,
But they are all arrive perfect.

Now, I call this love....

Thanks for stopping by today,
You know I love it when you come.....
If this is your first visit and you choose to follow,
Please know I always follow back.

Here's hoping you have sweet love in your life.

July 20, 2011

I Adore Antique Silk Velvet Ruched Roses........

I have been creating these beautiful antique silk velvet ruched roses
For some time now....I even teach a class on how to make them.

I also sell them in my Shoppe.
I simply had a vision for attaching two of my favorite clusters
Onto a velvet scarf for wonderful drama.
I did have to shorten the scarf so it would hang properly
And not be too long, but that was simple enough.

 From there it is just a single knot tie for it to hang in the center of the body.
It would be beautiful with any simple sweater, blouse, or t-shirt
Or even your favorite coat or jacket.
Too much for some people, but for this girlie-girl.....
It's perfect.

 Thanks for stopping by today,
You know I love it when you come...
And if this is your first time here and you choose to follow,
Please know I always follow back :)

A Bag for Be'be

My sweet Tatsey is almost two years old....
Such a big girl now.

Her mama and I went searching for a purse for her....
She needs a place to carry her sunglasses, don't you know.
Couldn't find anything except Dora the Explorer....
Not just yuk.....but BIG yuk.

I decided to make her one of her own.
Just like the one I made for her mama....
Except on a smaller scale of course.
This one is 16x16" and holds everything...

This one is 6x6" and perfect for
My Be'be........
 She's such a "girl".

 Thank you for stopping by today,
You know I love it when you come....
If you visit and choose to follow,
Please know I always follow back :)
(If I don't, it's an oversight....just remind me:)

I'm joining with the following parties this week....
Check them out when you get a chance.

July 19, 2011

The Top 10 Most Important Things for Your Antique Booth's Success and Your Sanity :)

I've had alot of feedback and questions on my three part post on how to start your own antique business......or really, any mall type business for that matter.  My daughter reminded me of several things she always overhears me saying that I think are important in the whole scheme of things as well.....so I will give just the top ten most important pieces of  personal "wisdom" I can to close this out......

1)  Sell antiques and all things old because you love them.  If this is simply a business venture you have chosen because you think you can retire from  your day job and be your own boss, I recommend you pick Avon or Mary Kay, because if your heart isn't in it your antique business will have no soul.  You attitude towards what you sell surely affects it's energy and your success.  It's rather  like becoming a Vet and not really liking animals.......it just shows!

2)  Sell only things you love.......this is a hard one because how do you ever turn loose of what you adore?  You learn to detach.....you also adopt the motto "keep the best and sell the rest".....you find yourself constantly upgrading your surroundings at home by do this.....By doing this you also develop your own style, as everything will have a common denominator and simply blend together becoming "you".......it works, trust me.

3)  Do not "chase" the sale.  When I first started we all "looked at the book" to see what was selling and then all showed up the next week with those things....lol  I have to tell you I did that for about a year, never selling any of them, and ended up with a lot of old stuff I didn't really even like.  Bad move.  At least stick with number 2 above and sell only what YOU love so if you have to take it home, you are still happy :)

4)  Do not sell inferior merchandise.  We all love shabby and the chippier the better, but when it comes to china and glass....it's just not worth how little you get for it to bother.......it's got to be really special and 100 years old before I will deal with cracks and such.    This applies to furniture as well....we all love to shop on the curb and that is wonderful, but make certain the repairs are expertly done and will hold up under the original use of the item.  Sell shoddy furniture and it will come back to haunt you.  The idea is not to "cover up", but to restore and not with something that just lasts until they get their item home.

5)  Be original....or as original as you can.  If I took an idea from someone else, ie, altered bottles, etc, I always put MY spin on them.  The concept was the same, however, the end product was always, always different.  Don't make someone else's pillows, or purses, or lampshades.  Create your own.  You will be known for copying, and believe me.....no one likes that. 

6)  Remember their is a big difference in copying and reinventing the idea.......big difference, and reinventing is fine.  That works in reverse as well.......you can't be offended unless someone shows up with something identical to your product......then.....well, it's okay to ask them why.

7)  If you reveal your sources, then you can't get upset when you are there shopping and bump into the people you shared with.  Keep it to yourself.....period.  You don't tell if you got it on the curb, at an estate/garage sale, or flea market....just none of any one's business......and THEY will show up, trust me.

8)  Never, ever share what you paid for something.  I know we are all so proud of how little we pay for some things we find and what to brag on our ability to do so........just don't do it.  If you share what you paid, then list it on Etsy for alot more.....well,  it's just not a good thing....and no one needs to know your business.  Remember, you are reselling these things, trying to make as much as you can, so why advertise you got it for a song.....just know you did and smile all the way to the bank.  Think about it....

9)  If you want to survive in an antique mall setting, mind your own business.  Think high school was bad?  Get into the thick of an antique mall and see how ugly grown up women can get......I'm just sayin'

10)  If you stop having fun, stop doing it...........

These are all things I wish I had know in the beginning of my antique mall life......and some are tough to learn as you have to actually experience the bad before you know what to do next time.  I hope this helps you just a bit on your way to making your million selling junk :)

I'm back to normal posting now......thanks for hanging in there with me.

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

July 14, 2011

How To Start Your Own Antique Business~Part II

Last post I talked about finding your location and all the necessary things to ask and do.  This post will delve into the business aspect of  opening your own antique booth within a mall, which will hopefully lead to you one day owning your very own antique shoppe. 
 (Sorry there are no photos today, but I just couldn't make price tags and bookkeeping books look good :)

The administrative side of your new business is relatively easy, and seems almost unnec
essary when I tell you how simple it is to actually set up...........but you will be glad you did, believe me.  Not only will it be essential at the end of the year for your income taxes, but it will help you stay organized with all your inventory.

You can use a spreadsheet on your computer or you can keep a simple notebook, but regardless of which one you choose to use.....make it easy on yourself.  Don't think it all has to be on a computer because that is the most efficient if you are not comfortable using that format.  Once again, make it easy on yourself and "go with what you know".  Because I started so many years ago, mine was always in a notebook, handwritten on one line using notebook paper so I would have at least 50 items per page.

Dealing with Sales Tax is easy and now is the time, if you haven't already, to go online and apply for a Sales Tax Use Number IF your city charges sales tax.  It can be easily applied for online and will be mailed to you within about two weeks.  This allows you to purchase items for resale without paying sales tax....Goodwill and The Salvation Army even accept this just so you know.   The antique mall will collect the sales tax for your items sold and pay it under their sales tax number.  You will NOT have to file a separate return at the end of the year unless you have sold merchandise in an off site location such as a show where you collected the money yourself.  You need this number whether you use it or not, but believe me....it will save you alot of money in the end and add to your profit margin.

According to tax laws regarding "reselling", you are only required to keep the following information:  The date you bought the item, a general description (vintage tablecloth  and napkins) , where you bought it, ie. garage sale, estate sale, etc, and what you paid for it......that is if it is used merchandise.  You will still need to keep receipts on all office supplies and new materials you purchase, such as paint, wood, etc. (I had twelve envelopes, each marked with a month of the year where I simply stuck all receipts for that month, making it easier at the end of the year.)   In addition to the description, date, where purchased, and how much paid..... add the following columns for your own bookkeeping records.......Inventory number, sale price, date sold.  This information will all come in handy when the mall calls you for a price check or to ask your "best price" and you can look it up.....know what item it is, what you paid for it, and how long you have had it.  It's all easy to remember in the beginning, but believe me.......it all runs together after a while :)  I also used the summary sheet the mall provided me at each pay period to cross off what had sold, thereby, keeping a running inventory for the end of the year tax time.  Use these pages as you list your inventory, assign an inventory number and make your price tags........by the time I left the antique mall venues, I was at the inventory number 59, 985.   Can I share with you that I recently sold an item that had it's original tag on it from the early days with an inventory number of 15.....that's right, I don't give up on anything.  If I loved it then, somebody will someday love it and buy it....eventually......I had to laugh out loud at how long I had it......but only after my customer left the Shoppe :)  It's not there was anything wrong with the item, I was laughing at myself.  Inside this notebook I also kept a copy of my lease and an area to retain all of my monthly reports from the mall regarding sales.  That way it is all in one area at the end of the year making it oh so easy.

Be consistent in your price tags and take the time to write a brief description on them.  You will be surprised at the amount of tag switching that goes on, so don't make it easy for them with plain tags that just say $25.99.  Also be prepared for theft and lock up smalls with value....or they will grow legs and simply walk away. 

Malls normally pay twice a month on the 1st and 15th, or five days after the closing of those dates.  I always expected the check I received on the 1st to cover my rent for the upcoming month, and my mid month check to be "mine".  That is a good rule of thumb that things are running on an even keel for you.  It doesn't mean that will always happen, but it should more often than not.

Pricing is probably one of the areas most new dealers have trouble with.  My only rule of thumb is don't ever get "too proud" of something as it will be yours always.  If it is something I am particularly attached to, I keep it at home.  By the time it comes to the Shoppe, I have emotionally detached from it and ready for someone else to take it home and love it.  Therefore, I can realistically price the item....making the decision if I want a quick nickel or am I prepared for that slow dime.  This old stuff is wonderful, but only worth what someone is willing to pay.  I always check Ebay to see the going rate online, evaluate what I actually paid for the item......and price it accordingly.  I've always been pretty good about pricing my items in conjunction with what I paid for it....if I got a good deal, then I try to pass that on.....regardless of what it is....I believe in that quick nickel in most cases.  However, if you notice that other dealers are buying your merchandise as quickly as you put it out and moving it to their space to resell......you might want to reevaluate your pricing strategy.....which brings me to my next point.

It is a fact we are all just passing this stuff around between us....I buy from you, you buy from her, she buys from somebody else....and so on.  I just keep waiting for what I originally sold to make it's way back to me because I know it is going to happen.  It's just like the joke that you can put two antique dealers on a deserted island with one chest of drawers and they can both make a living on it.....simply selling it back and forth to each other.....it's true, you know :)  Be prepared for other dealers to buy your items and resell them right around the corner from you.  As long as you got the price you were asking for it, then there is no harm and no foul.  It is when a dealer asks me to take less so they can make more that I have a problem....that is a no, no in my book and kinda rude as well.  I once had a dealer ask me for a better price stating they couldn't make enough at the price I had it......now do you think I really care?  Oh my......the audacity of some people, right?  But believe me, it WILL happen so get ready.

We now have our location and our administrative paper work set up....tomorrow we start moving in.....are you ready? 
See you then.

July 13, 2011

How To Start Your Own Antique Business~Part I

The one question I get asked several times a week other than "where do you get all your stuff" is the question how I got started.  What I have seems to be a dream career for alot of people and they don't even know where to begin to make it happen........all I can tell you is that if you love old stuff as much as I love old stuff and have a knack for finding it, then the rest is pretty simple.

I feel certain there are tons of books, blogs, and reference materials out there which tell you what you should do if you want to get started selling all the wonderful items you find, redo, or reinvent.  Although there is no magical formula for this, there are alot of things I have learned within the last 25 years which might help you, and make it easier.  It's all pretty simple, but you have to have staying power if you want to make it successful......it's fun, but it's definitely not for sissies.

Firstly, I will tell you this has never been my dream....to own a little antique shoppe or do what I do.  I have reinvented myself many times along the way and this is just where I ended up.  I have, however, always loved all things old and have had a knack for recognizing quality, even when I had no idea what I was actually looking at.  You also have to remember that if you love it, I promise you someone else will as well.

If you are like I was, you already have a "real job" and that is a good thing........but you have been collecting and buying "good stuff" for some time now.  Your family has begged you to "stop" because you have too much....heard that before?  Become a dealer and everyone leaves you alone.  You now have a "license to buy" because you buy on the pretense of selling it, whether you ever do or not:)  It is wonderful because they then leave you alone because you are a "DEALER" :)  It all works out quite well.....and being a dealer can support your habit of continuing to shop for all the old things you love. So if you someday want your own antique store, start NOW in this small way so you are ready when the time comes.

~  Don't ever expect your business to support you, however, if you start out the way I tell you, it should at least pay for itself right away.....and build from there.  That's why it is so important to keep your "day job", starting small so you can learn as you go instead of investing a large amount of cash to make it happen.  Just too much pressure on your pocketbook and yourself.    That was the important thing for me.  I didn't want it to "cost" me anything.

~Scout your antique malls and determine which one is best for you.  Ask for their weekend sales figures and turnover rate.  Determine how much of what you have interest in is already for sale inside and see what you will be competing against.  Check the prices....too high? too low?  Evaluate how you feel about the dealers already inside.  Does it look like a garage sale or is it clean, wonderful, and full of things you want?  You might have to drive a bit further to get to the best location, but in the long run it will pay off for you.  You won't be going every day, however, you will need to check on your space at the very least twice a week, so take that into consideration and make it easy on yourself.

~Inquire about booth rental rates, lease requirements, and deposits.  Determine the occupancy rate of the mall location and ask how many available booths they have.  Just because they all appear to be full does not mean they are all rented.  They could be full of the owner's inventory and/or consignment product.  Be sure to inquire about advertising and/or work days.  If you have an actual job then work days can be a real problem.  I promise you learn to hate giving up one of your days off to work there....regardless of how much fun it seems like now.  If the mall requires a deposit, and alot do, negotiate.  I have never paid any money up front other than my first month's rent to move in any of the three malls I was in before I had my actual shoppe.......and that's when the economy was good as well.  A deposit is just not  necessary and always, always ask before just assuming this is a given.  Also, always negotiate at least 10 days to two weeks move in grace period before your actual lease begins.....that way you can hit the ground running with your sales as you want to make enough each month to pay your monthly lease......and then some :)  Don't be afraid to ask for what works for you.....just be reasonable.

~Rent the smallest space you can that will accommodate the type of items you sell.  We all have a tendency to think bigger is better, but in this case it's just more expensive.  Remember not to go too small for money's sake either....an 8x10 is a good size booth and a good place to start. 

~Take the time to paint the walls and make it your own before you move in.  If you don't, I promise it will never get done as it is just too difficult later on.  Some malls will let you go upward as high as you like...other's won't, so always ask.  I found that "real estate" in all the malls I was in was way too expensive to waste a bit of it, so I always went upwards.  Build corner shelves with doors, pergolas to stack things on top of, whatever is allowed.....just be sure you make it safe.

~Have a sign made with the name of your business clearly showing and hang it in a prominent place.  If people like your things, they will start referring to your space by name and you will build a reputation. 

~Have business cards made with your email address, blog address, and/or website or Etsy address on them if you have one.....make yourself available so they can relate to you as an actual person rather than just a booth of merchandise.

~Merchandising your inventory is key to being successful so I recommend furniture and bookshelves rather than pegboard shelving and such.......try to think of your space as a room in your home you are decorating as it creates warmth and is inviting.  It doesn't have to be anything other than painted cast off furniture, just make it interesting.

Ok......we have our location, our actual space, and our fixtures.....tomorrow we'll talk about the administrative end of keeping track of what we are doing.......hope to see you then.

July 5, 2011

Shake It Up......

 Just about every nook and cranny of the Shoppe has been redone...
Large items inside the Shoppe sold during the last Le' Pre'miere and
Things that didn't sell had to be accommodated inside.

It's always fun to redesign and rearrange everything,
Making it look new and different.....
Finding things even I forgot about.
I'm always amazed at how the same things can look so different
When combined with other elements around the store.

A great new look for a tired fireplace display.

 With a new cabinet for all my handmade soaps and sprays.

 Along with a little of this and a little of that...
 Wonderful painted frames and an old wooden birdcage.

 The perfect storage for this precious child's antique tea set.....
A hand painted train case.

A snugly bedroom area, too.

And, of course, all the windows were reworked as well.

It always helps any type of business to "shake it up" regularly.
It helps customers to see things they missed before,
Keeps your inventory (or home) fresh and exciting.
Nothing is more boring than walking into a Shoppe and
Seeing everything always looks the same.
It's alot of work, but it pays off in the long run.

The same concept can be used at home as well.
If you are tired of something, just move it around..
It breathes new life and energy into an area and
You just might fall in love with "your stuff" all over again.

Thanks for stopping by today,
You know I love it when you come.
If you visit and choose to follow,
Please know I always follow back
(if I don't, just remind me as it is an oversight)

I'm joining the following parties this week.....
hop over and check them out.
It's always good.

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