July 28, 2014
Good evening friends. Today we are interviewing booth owner, Theresa Rivers from Now and Then Vintage. I hope all of you will stop by and visit, Theresa’s Facebook page. It’s new and needs some love and likes.
1. How long have you been a vintage dealer? I’ve been a dealer for five years.
2. What type of setting are you in? I’m in a large antique mall/indoor flea market, with over 350 booths and showcases. We have a mix of antiques, vintage, and collectibles, along with clothing, books, household items and other merchandise.
3. How many booths do you have? I have one booth and a showcase. I have had more spaces in the past, but for time management purposes, just these two spaces work best for me right now.
4. What do you sell? Furniture, suitcases, antique hardware, crates, jars, doors and windows, pictures, mirrors, vintage jewelry, toys, ephemera, sewing notions, aprons, bow ties, lamps and Pyrex. I recently switched up from selling vintage clothing and accessories to focus more on home décor.
5. What do you find sells the most? With the vintage clothing, wearable and on-trend pieces were the best sellers. With my new merchandise, so far it’s been vintage bow ties, Ball jars, furniture, Pyrex and vintage Barbie clothing. Christmas always sells, so do items in certain colors, like turquoise, red, cream and pink.
6. What do find sells the least? I do not have success with glassware, however, those booths that have only or mostly glassware seem to do well. It seems a big grouping is more impressive to customers and they will buy it from those dealers.
7. Why do you think your booth has been successful?I try to stage my booth in an attractive way, with creative displays and frequently add fresh vintage to my stock. I keep it clean and uncluttered with lots of room for buyers to browse around. I keep my booth seasonal, too, and follow the larger retail picture. For instance, now is the time for back to school (already!) and to stock up on fall items. In our area, we have several festivals and events, and we get customers in the store who are traveling to the area to attend those events, so I can theme my merchandise to suit those interests.
8. How often do you refresh your booth? I am in the store five days a week, since I am the store manager! So I refresh almost daily, bringing in new items, staging them and cleaning my booth before and after work hours.
9. What mistakes have you made and learned from as dealer? I’ve learned to stock my booth with pieces that people will buy! For example, I love mid-century modern, but in the store’s area, it is just not in demand. People like rustic and shabby, and it sells best. So I keep the mid-century to myself and seek out other items for my booth.
10. What advice do you have for someone just starting out? Work your booth as often as possible! Treat it as a business and use social media to promote your wares. Buy low, so you can actually make some money on your items. Set your booth up like a little shop, in an attractive way. Think through your larger, anchor pieces for display-try to avoid folding tables and yard sale-like pieces for your set up. Develop your own individual style and presentation, and enjoy it! It is a lot of fun, but be ready for work and chunks of time devoted to your booth.
11. What do you think the number one mistake is that unsuccessful dealers make? They don’t anticipate the time involved with having a booth. We often hear vendors in our store talking about slow sales, but then they admit they haven’t been in to tend their booth in weeks! The vendors who come in most often to refresh and rearrange are the most successful. We see that every day in our store. Also, the pricing has to be on point, one of the biggest challenges.
12. Do you do this full time? No, at this time it is a part time venture! I am lucky to work in an environment where I am surrounded with beautiful and interesting objects all day, and I love that. I hope to be a full time dealer in a few years, but right now I am keeping my day job, as they say!
13. Do you stick to a specific color scheme with your booth? I do like a color scheme, it helps guide me on purchases and projects, and makes a booth attractive. Right now I have lots of rustic and/or weathered wood, with pops of turquoise and red. I’ve also used cream and beige with pink, a very soothing and tranquil look. It’s somewhat “girly” though, so not as many male customers entered the booth to browse.
14. Do you utilize social media, and if so, which ones work best? Yes, I use Facebook and Pinterest. They were both especially helpful when I had an online shop on one of the vintage/handmade sites. I’ve just started building up my Facebook page as a booth dealer, and it does take some time to get that following, but I’m working on it! I also use the online classified site-it’s free, you can put pictures on it, and when your items are in a store, you don’t have to worry about strangers coming to your home.
15. What is an average month in sales for your booth? It varies, according to the season. Just let me say I’m not getting rich, but it is a viable source of income!
16. How do you break down and come up with your prices? I try to get at least double, and prefer three times my purchase price. I’ve learned to avoid purchasing project pieces that require a great deal of time to fix up, because sometimes the time spent is just not worth the actual resale price. I compare my items to others in the store and price accordingly. Sometimes dealers say, “This item goes for such and such on the online auction site,” and I feel that is not a realistic price comparison. We’ve found that dealers and pickers come to our store to resell elsewhere and look for a little profit margin themselves. That’s just our setting, though. When pricing, I take into account the percentage that the store charges. And I leave a tad bit of wiggle room in case a customer wants to negotiate the price, unless I want the price to remain firm.
Do you have anything further to add to this interview? A bit of advice for dealers, if you’re having challenges with your booth, talk to the store staff. You’ll find they are a great source of information and want to support you as a dealer and help you succeed. For example, if you’re going on vacation, let the staff know. In our store, we will check on booths and straighten while you’re gone. Everyone wins when dealers do well! Sometimes, I have to love a special item for a while, and then I’m ready to let go. Every once in a while I purge and donate-if it’s not selling, price it low and/or give it up. Once you get into selling, it kind of gets in your system. I’ve heard many dealers say that selling antiques and vintage is an addiction, and it is! I wish everyone enjoyment, and happy selling!
Thank you again, Theresa for sharing all this info with us. We appreciate you taking the time out of your busy day.