Hi friends. We hope your week is off to a great start. It has been a while since we did a vintage dealer interview. We get lots of questions asking if we will share bohemian (boho) style booths. So today, we are excited to share Kelly Norton’s booth. Kelly has a booth called The Rustic Hippo. It is located in Tacoma, WA. If you love the 70’s style decor you are going to love her booth.
While this lady considers herself green, we think she is just as wise as a seasoned dealer. This is one dedicated and hard-working dealer as she fluffs up her booth, at the end of the day, getting it ready for the next. We hope you will take a few minutes to read her interview and check out her beautiful booth. Also, if you would like to be considered for a dealer interview please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include 3-5 clear photos and links to your social media.
How did you get started in the vintage industry? Born in the 70s, I am a total maximalist with a natural draw to vintage bohemian. I have always been obsessed with finding vintage and unique items for my home. I began painting furniture about 5 years ago for different rooms in our house. I loved it so much, I decided to start selling my pieces locally. Reselling vintage and found items was a natural progression, as my passion is home decor.
How long did you sell out of your home or online before opening a booth? I sold out of my home locally for about 4 years and then added shipping on my smalls during Covid.
What type of store are you in? I now sell at my local antique mall that is very close to my house.
How many booths do you have? I currently have two booths and maybe acquiring a third or expanding into a larger one.
What size booth/s do you have? My first booth in our mall is the size of one and a half booths. My second booth is the size of a half booth.
What do you find sells the most in your booth? Right now, ambiance lighting, Mexican Serape blankets, throw pillows, and colored glass window bottles.
What do you find sells the least in your booth? White wicker for sure. Afghans are really hard to move in my booth, as our mall is oversaturated with them.
Why do you think your booth has been successful? I think the biggest secret to success in anything is to stay uniquely you and not try to be anyone else. Set yourself apart. When you showcase your own style and personality and don’t worry about what’s going on around you, you will inevitably find your tribe of people that resonate with your style.
How often do you refresh your booth? I visit my booths at the end of each day to make sure it is straightened up for the next day. I try to add or move things around in my booths about once a week, But when life happens, I don’t kick myself if I can’t make it for a week or two.
What mistakes have you made and learned from a dealer? Recently I had a swag light priced at $165, but there was a small ink blot across the 1 and it got sold for $65 as a result. We had $72 into the swag so it was a substantial hit. In the future, I will make sure that all of our tags are clear and we will take pictures of our high-dollar tags before they go into the shop.
What plans do you have to improve your booth for the new year? Right now, I am looking into either acquiring a third booth, or expanding into a larger booth where I can merge the two bohemian-style booths into one. Now that it is summer break, I also plan on putting more hand-painted items into my spaces to add more color and personality.
What advice do you have for someone just starting out? Considering I am relatively new at this myself, I would say, begin with a great amount of humility. It is okay to be green! Research, research, research! Before getting my booth, I spent a lot of time reading blogs, watching YouTubers, and scrolling Instagram for advice on being a good booth owner.
What do you think the number one mistake is that unsuccessful dealers make? You can very clearly tell in an antique mall which booth owners are prideful and passionate about their booth. The ones that don’t get much action are typically the ones that have an inch of dust everywhere, sparse items on the floor, or haven’t been touched for months. I once saw a booth with, “Dust me!” written in the dust on the shelf. I’m guessing a booth like that doesn’t do as well as one that is clearly cared for.
Do you do this for a living, part-time or as a hobby? When I was painting furniture and selling from my home, it was a hobby. When I decided to get a booth, I knew I wanted it to be full-time. This year, I will likely leave my position of 23 years as a para-educator to sell full-time. I’m pretty excited about that. Do you stick to a specific color scheme with your booth? My first booth, I call the brown booth. That is where I sell all of my pottery, wood, wicker, brown, and neutral earthy tone items. My second booth is full of color! I try to pull as much turquoise and orange in as possible with some greens and other warm but vibrant colors.
Do you utilize social media, and if so, which ones work best? I absolutely rely on social media to advertise my booths! I primarily use Instagram and Facebook and try to post every day to every other day. I am also trying to get more involved in stories which I find challenging, as recording what I am doing tends to decrease my momentum.
Where do you find your vintage goods? Everywhere!! Thrift stores, yard sales, estate sales, Offer Up, and Marketplace! I have my regular honey holes, but really, to find the good stuff, I try to source from as many places as possible.
Do you change your booth out to reflect the seasons and or holidays? Absolutely! I am already collecting fall & winter items. My plan is to stay true to my bohemian style and showcase items that I would use in my own home during the holidays. For me, this will mean not over saturating my booth with snowmen and Santas, but rather more subtle holiday elements that accentuate the bohemian vibe.
Do you swap out stale merchandise or do you reduce it for a fast sale? I prefer to swap it out and reintroduce it in a different way. I also like having two booths, because I can give it a new look in a different booth where it will likely sell. Occasionally, I will do a 20% off sale to unload a good amount of merchandise at once, so I can bring new items in. If I do decide to lower the price on an item, I will make a new tag with a new price.
Do you think booth location is important? Yes. I look for the ability to have walls to hang art for sure! I also look for traffic. Both of my booths are located right behind window displays, which makes it pretty easy to guide people there when posting on social media. My first booth does not get as much traffic naturally as I would like, so I post often to get people to visit.
Do you use any kind of inventory software for your personal use? No. Honestly, I’m a pencil and ledger kind of gal. I list all of my inventory in a book, including the cost of the item, what I sold it for, and the profit after the commission has been taken out. My goal is to eventually get online with bookkeeping software. That is going to be quite the learning curve for me.
Do you market your booth/s outside social media? I have business cards, I occasionally hand out, but I do not have a website or an email list yet.
Do you sell online too? If so which sites do you use? When I was selling online, I was using local OfferUp and Marketplace. I may eventually expand to selling on Etsy or eBay in addition to the booths.
Would you like to own your own store someday? While it sounds amazing, honestly, I am not sure. There are a lot of benefits to selling an antique mall, one of which is the time allotted for painting furniture and picking. Not to mention the freedom of weekend family time, and vacations.
Do you ever participate in barn sales or pop-up sales? If so, how many a year? I have not yet explored this avenue. Honestly, it sounds incredibly fun and exhausting. I may try a few in the future, but I really love being rooted in a storefront setting.
Do you have any other advice tips or info you would like to add? I am super green in this industry and I am more than okay with that! I am really excited to learn and grow and become a member of this vintage community. I strongly believe that the secret to happiness is to constantly seek out new things that challenge you and make you excited to get out of bed and get to it! When I no longer feel challenged, I know it’s time to expand and branch out or move on to something new.
We hope you enjoyed this interview. Until next time…Happy Junkin!