Have you been thinking about starting an antique booth? Maybe you just started one. Do you like to decorate and go shopping for vintage treasures? I mean who doesn’t like to go junkin? Does having your own little playhouse with a steady stream of income sound appealing to you? Well, keep reading. The booth life is not all fun and games.
For starters, let’s talk about inventory. Have you amassed enough merchandise to open a booth yet? What about an inventory reserve? Let’s say your booth is wildly successful and you sell out within the first month. Do you have plenty of merchandise to replace it? This happened to me once. It was many moons ago and one of my favorite places. I’m sad it’s no longer in business, but anyway I took an antique booth at this store. No one prepared me for the success that would follow. I was in an antique mall with thirteen other vendors. I was the only one that painted vintage furniture and it flew out the door. You may be thinking well, I have a good reserve of merchandise. That’s great, but what if you had an emergency and couldn’t work your booth? It would be nice to have pieces readily available to drop off and go. Always be thinking ahead.
Some Customers Will Trash Your Booth
If you are in any type of mall that has vending machines or has refreshments on special occasions be prepared for the trash that will ensue. I want to preface this by saying most customers are courteous and clean up after themselves. However, there is that handful that will trash your booth. I used to be in a large, well-known mall that stayed open late on Thursday nights. In addition to staying open late, they offered refreshments for the customers. I thought this was a brilliant move on their behalf. They were catering to those that wanted to shop after they got off work. I thought the snacks were a nice touch for hungry shoppers. It was a well-received idea and most of the time well attended.
My only gripe was the trash that some customers would leave behind in my booth. It never failed when I would go to work my booth on Friday Mornings I would find coffee cups, water bottles, soda cans, half-eaten cookies and other trash in my booth. Oh, and there was that one time that someone decided to leave their big wad of chewing gum on a piece of my furniture. I was always baffled why the trash never actually made it to the trash can. I suppose I should have been flattered that whatever I had in my booth had stopped the customer dead in their tracks to stop eating or drinking and pay attention to my item. Still, it was very frustrating.
I have a friend that is a dealer and once she found an open bottle of fingernail polish in her booth. What’s worse is some of her dishes had been painted with it. It was all over the floor too. I can only assume this must have been an unattended child that pulled this little shenanigan. For that reason, she now has cameras in her booth. I have heard all kinds of similar stories over the years and if you have been in the industry for any length of time I am sure you have heard or seen your share of stories as well.
Booth trashing is not just limited to food and drink. It’s not uncommon to come in and find your pillows, quilts and other items tossed on the floor. Some customers will take something off the wall to look at it and not bother to hang it back. Oh and let’s talk about those customers that break things and not bother to notify staff. Yes, there I said it. Let’s have a show of hands if you have found broken items in your booth? Fortunately, I have not had too many of these incidents occur in booths over the years. I think the worst item was a broken lamp. I went into to work my booth one day and there there were broken pieces still laying on the floor. I don’t know what happened to it, but I know it would have made a very loud noise when it broke. No one said anything or told management.
If you are new to the booth industry theft is just part of doing business. It is gonna happen. There are some steps you can do to discourage thieves, but the sad truth is you can’t prevent it entirely. If you have something that is worth a lot of money we highly recommend you selling it someplace other than your booth. Maybe you can put it in a locked case upfront. There are things you can do to discourage thieves, but the bottom line is IF someone wants something badly enough nothing is going to stop them. We did a blog post called Theft Prevention Tips four years ago and it’s still a very popular blog. We would love it if you would check out that blog post. There are some tips.
One way is to install cameras. They can either be real or fake cameras. The one pictured below is a dummy camera that you can purchase on Amazon for $7.
If you wanted to go with the real deal like the one below, you can find it on Amazon for $21
Of course, there is always the option to put up a sign like this one.
Rude Booth Neighbors
It’s unfortunate that I have to even talk about this topic. We are all adults and should know better. However, there are some dealers that just don’t get it. What am I talking about? You will be surprised at the newbies that think it is ok to put a nail into the back of another dealer’s china cabinet to hang their picture. Or if walls are not in place they think it’s okay to encroach into their neighbor’s booth whether it is floor space or wall space.
Back in the day, I used to have a booth that did not have a wall on my right-hand side. I decided to let the staff install a wall for me. It was up to each dealer to cover their side of the wall. I’m not crazy about the look but I went with pegboard. My neighbor on the other side did not finish out their wall and left the bare studs showing. They decided to utilize the backside of my new pegboard wall to hang their things. This is not ok people. If you have a good relationship with your booth neighbor then ask them if they would mind you hanging a couple of things but do not take advantage of them. This is just rude.
You might be wondering why I had an issue with this and here’s why. I had a lot of wall items. Now, all of a sudden my booth neighbor is putting hooks into the holes that I need. I was constantly having to go and move their hooks. I thought they would get the hint, but they didn’t. I was never able to catch them in person to discuss it so I finally had to reach out to management to ask them to stop.
If you are working your booth please be considerate and not place your items the path of your booth neighbors. Do not go into their booth and sit on their furniture while you are taking a break (unless you have permission) and do not take things from their booth to stage your booth.
Several years ago we wrote a blog called Booth Etiquette. Please feel free to print it out and pass it along to someone you think may need it.
Any good picker will tell you that you have to be ready to get dirty on this job. There are a lot of hazards that come with picking. Most of the time you are picking at thrift stores, yard sales or auctions. However, there will be times when you will go picking in old houses, barns, and sheds. So you best be prepared when that time comes. Always keep a first aid kit, a good pair of boots and leather gloves in your vehicle. The last thing you want to do is step on a nail or get cut.
If you have never had the pleasure of picking in an old barn, you are truly missing out. There is nothing like the high of fresh-picked barn goods. However, it’s not for everyone. I have a friend that is a dealer, but she is only interested in having a pretty little booth. She’s a true girly girl you will never catch her picking in dirty places. I lovingly refer to her booth as the Miss Priss Booth. You will never find anything rusty or crusty in her booth. Yet she does very well with the items she sells.
If barn picking is for you then make sure to have a good flashlight. Those old barns are dark and you never know what is lurking around the corner or what you are going to bump your head on so be careful. Be especially careful in the summer. You don’t want to meet get into wasp nest or step on Mr. No Shoulders.
I don’t advocate going into these types of places alone but if you have to make sure to let someone know where and what time you will be there. Accidents can and do happen. Make sure you have your cell phone charged and in your pocket. This little utility wagon below has been a lifesaver for me. The sides let down and it’s great for hauling stuff when you don’t have help.
That’s a wrap for this post. We hope this article is helpful. We may not be posting as much on Facebook right now due to family illness but we hope to be back soon. Thanks for all your love and support.
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