Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Some Booth Questions ~ Input Wanted

Most of you know that I recently rented a booth space at a local antique flea mart {right before Easter weekend}, so it’s been about three months now.  I’ve had some questions these past three months so I thought I’d put them out there, here on my blog, and maybe get some input from those of you with booth spaces and/or shops.  I have an Etsy shop so I know the slow times for that.  These pictures I’m including are of my booth, but are really just to keep this post from being all words.

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Do you find the Summer months to be slower with sales {unless you are in a tourist area where I expect you are busier than normal}?

How long do you keep something in your booth before deciding that perhaps it needs an additional makeover?

Do you have a certain ratio of smalls to bigger items? 

Should I get a folding table and cover it with a tablecloth so that I can stack and layer things?  I’m afraid of stacking furniture on top of furniture because I don’t want the finish to get ruined.  Plus, if a piece sells {like a table} then I am left with the smaller pieces with nothing to stack them on.

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How often would you have a sale?  I’m thinking of marking some things on sale when they do a Christmas in July promotion and putting “Christmas in July sale” with the lower price.

If I don’t sell something in a week’s time, I usually skip the garage sales that week because I feel like I’m spending money on items without getting a return.  Am I thinking wrong by doing that?  Edited to add:  This would be furniture pieces as I don’t have anywhere to store pieces waiting to go into my booth.

What is one thing that you learned along the way that might be helpful to a newbie booth vendor like me?

Thanks so much! I appreciate any tips you could pass on.

 

15 comments:

Victoria's Vintage Designs said...

I too had a booth in an antique mall. Probably smaller than yours (which looks lovely)and pricey. I found there was not enough foot traffic to make it worth while for me. I now use a storage unit to store my pieces completed/waiting to be painted. I sell online, craigslist, ebay & etsy. It works better for me, I can come and go when I like... and smalls I just list on ebay mostly. This is what works for me, maybe not for everyone. I just think people just don't browse shops much in my area so the internet serves me well! I am impressed with people who post how there things fly out of their space... In this area that I am in I have not found that kind of space! Good luck! Vicki

Laura Turner said...

Hi Kathy,
While I can't say about booths, I've been an Ebay seller for years--craft supplies from Stampin' Up that always hold their value. I have found the summer months to be slow and have noted that items sell much cheaper then, so I usually buy. For example, I have always wanted the Dick and Jane readers for myself. Yesterday a lot of four sold for 4.00 on Ebay, which is unheard of for those books!!! (Unfortunately, I missed it.) So I usually buy in the summer and list when kids get back to school. i figure that the moms have more time to shops then. Hope this is helpful.

Penny @ The Comforts of Home/From Harvest To Table said...

Hi Kathy,
I had a booth in a huge antique mall here for a little over a year. I actually rented it when we were getting ready to sell our last home and knew that all of my furniture etc would not fit into a smaller home. I also had some mosaic pieces left and had decided to get out of the mosaic business.

So what I discovered - and I do live in a tourist area summer and fall, that they were my best selling seasons. For me the slow time was Dec-February. I had a 20% off winter sale during those months.

I did stack smaller items on top of larger pieces that I was selling. I set up vignettes and displays like I would in my home.

In the year that I had my booth there was only one month that I did not make money. But I found that I couldn't find items to put in my booth at a decent price, so I had a going out of business sale this past February.

Okio B Designs said...

I've never had a booth but I know from my Etsy that summer is definitely slower. But I know it's also important to refresh your stock too. So while you're not wanting to buy anything new until you sell more, you really do have to spend money to make money. When I did craft show booths, they were always a bust - regardless of the foot traffic.

J

missy said...

Kathy..I can only speak as a consumer..If you have the same people coming back, You need to change things often..Sometimes crowded booths make people look harder? I would guess that when the kids are out of school, It might be a little slower..unless you're in a tourist area...I would think that the key would be to have a frequent turnover of customers..Good luck..

The Decorative Dreamer said...

Great questions, I am interested in these as well. I think the key is to keep the customers coming back to see more, in other words changing it up for the regulars. This could even be just rearranging everything you already have if you don't want to add more yet. I am currently looking for more shelves to display smalls. It's not as attractive but sure makes it more convenient to add more items without having to overstack on your larger pieces. I don't mind some stacking but not too much. I hope you have many more replies to this since because I would love to hear them. Great post!

SheilaG @ Plum Doodles said...

We rented booths around the same time, and I'm finding this to be a slow period. A designer told me that March & October are their best months, and I found last October to be amazing for me when I did the weekend market. I missed the March market, though. I've found that regularly rearranging your booth does help people to see things they may not have seen the last time they were there. Stacking things catches the eye. And I try not to have anything {much} that isn't for sale. If I have display pieces, I price them high enough that I know I can replace them easily. Then if someone wants them badly enough, I don't mind selling.

GARAGE SALE GAL said...

Hi Kathy,
There are slow month at time you wouldn't expect it and then busy likewise!
Keep re-arranging as mentioned above. Yes to stacking. Keep the bottom piece for display, even tho customers don't like that! Since we have booths at 2 shops, we switch stuff back and forth. I personally don't like "sales"...takes away the profit and they usually buys "smalls" at the discount price..but things that you have bought before. Step out of your "comfort" zone! I buy all the time! LOL! You could be missing the perfect thing! Make use of every inch of space that you have. Maybe more shelves on the wall.
Don't be discouraged! After awhile you will have a following!
Warmly,
deb

Gail said...

Hi Kathy, your questions are great! I have had my booth now for 8 months and I still feel like I'm learning as I go. I have to say, I am surprised that I have done so well. I try to go to my booth at least twice a week usually on Mondays and Fridays. While I'm there I am always rearranging and adding new things. I do stack things only because I think it adds more interest. If I'm worried about something getting damaged I will add a piece of felt under it. For me, I know I love to go to a booth and see a variety of things and that's what I try and do with mine. Hugs, Gail

sissie said...

Hi Kathy,
I've been doing booths for nearly five years now and I can tell you that you will never get rich doing this. I look at it more as an outlet for my creative energy and my junking obsession! LOL!

I usually have great months from March thru October. This is because I live at the beach where there are lots of tourists and vacationers. So most of the time I end up with a fairly good check at the end of the month. I usually end up reinvesting half my profit on merchandise and the other funds cover my gas, etc. Sometimes there is a little left over for me.
I find that it's important to change up your booth often. I usually change mine around every few weeks. One way to do this is to have a fixed table where you can change up vingettes and create themes.
I use a folding table that I have skirted with burlap. These tables are available at places like home depot or Walmart. (about $35.)

I also try to keep my booth full of small pieces of furniture, lots of pillows, mirrors and things that I like personally. Plus things that I make. You have to constantly be on the lookout for new items so you will have backup items when you have a good selling period. Just remember to keep it open enough so that the shopper can walk through and browse.

I do run 10% off sales from time, usually on weekends. This will help stimulate a sale that might not have otherwise happened without a discount. That's just the nature of the consumer...they like to know they are getting a deal.

I think a booth is successful if you keep a theme or sell items that are shabby chic, cottage, French or whatever.

You have to hang in there for awhile so that you will develop a following of regular customers. Just remember to keep them interested by making sure your booth is attractive. Keep it fresh by moving things around and highlight new items.

It won't be long until you find out what works and what doesn't. Just keep trying and it will work.

Hope this helps.

hugs
Sissie

Shirley@Housepitality Designs said...

I am echoing Sheila...started mine several months ago and so far so good...but it is always good to change things around...I almost took out some pieces that were there for a long time, but all of a sudden they sold...I am not making a lot of money, but having a great time with it...always wanted a "shop" so this is the next best thing and I do not have the headaches of running my own shop..hang in there!!

Connie said...

Hi Kathy, I've have had a very small amount of selling in booths experience so I wouldn't be any help,
but I am excited to learn that you have a Brother sewing/embroidery machine, too. It might help us both learn faster, if we share ideas and techniques along the way :) Thanks for visiting and good luck on the give-a-way :)
Connie

Little Miss Maggie said...

Hi Kathy, the summer months are generally slower than the rest of the year. Believe it or not, I have had things in my space going on three years. I like to display with them so I don't mind holding onto them. But truly, most things sell within six months to a year. I'm talking large pieces of furniture now. I pack my space to the brim with smalls and price them to sell. Smalls are my bread and butter and I turn them very fast. I do stack my furniture and I usually take a pretty piece of fabric and drape the bottom piece and set the smaller piece on top. I layer layer layer. It gives depth and dimension and just generally makes things more interesting. I even have a hanging porch swing in my space I use in place of a shelf. Good luck with your space.

Little Miss Maggie said...

Hi Kathy, adding to my previous comment. I rarely have sales, but when I decide it's time for a piece to go I slash the price to just get my money out of it. Definitely keep buying smalls even when you are having a slow month. Visit your space often and rearrange often. You would be surprised when people say did you just bring that in, and it's been there for a while.

Cyndi ✪ Blue Star said...

Kathy, I've had a booth at an antique mall for 10 years and have walked through hundreds of malls over the years. The ones that get my attention (and I buy from) are the ones that have great displays. A folding table is a turn off to me. Why use valuable real estate on something that won't make you money? Find a great piece of furniture and use it as a base for your display. Layer on it with something to protect the finish as others have suggested. I make more money off of one piece of furniture that sells than 50 smalls. There are months when furniture flies out of the shop and I can't seem to keep up. There are other months when my entire sales are from smalls. For me, I keep a balance of both. And rotate, rotate, rotate. I've had people mention a cute piece that has been in the booth for months and when I moved it, they noticed it and it sold. Most of my customers are repeat customers and they're always looking for what's new. I use FB to advertise when new things are in. It's great free advertising! Hope this helps! Good luck!!

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