Create Your Own Small Business
Do you have a passion for Antiques, enjoy arranging furniture and creating visual displays? If so, than you may want to create your own small business by setting up a booth in an Antique Mall.
Antique Malls are created by a group of Antique Dealers who rent a space sometimes referred to as a booth. Each space or booth is maintained and decorated by individual dealers. The cost of rentals are usually on a month to month basis starting at about $25 a month for a few shelves, to several hundred dollars for a larger floor space. Many Antique Dealers have multiple streams of income by renting spaces at several malls, displaying at shows and running eBay stores. Each space in a mall reflects the individual taste and style of display. Here is a short video touring booth displays in a mall.
How to Get Started
Study Your Competition
Designing and creating a space to display and sell your antiques takes some planning. Before renting a booth space, visit several antique malls in your area and study how others have setup their displays. The goal is to make use of every square inch your space while allowing your visitors to see and access all of your products. Be sure to check out how the price tags are made, and how they are attached to items. Which type of displays best grab your attention and make you notice what is for sale?
Find Out the Rules and Regulations
Compare the pricing and regulations at several malls before signing a lease. There are rules and restrictions in place at each Mall to ensure the success of your business. Some Malls require dealers to spend a certain number of hours per month to help staff the floor while other malls provide that service. There are also commission fees involved for items sold. They range from 5% to 20% of goods sold. These fees vary among malls and need to be considered when choosing where you set up your business.
Choose a Location
Choose your location wisely. You will be visiting your booth weekly or several times a month to stock and keep everything neatly organized. Decide how long of a commute you are willing to take. It may be better to first start with a small space in a mall that is close to where you live and then expand once you get a little experience. Talk to a few other dealers in the mall and ask them if they have been successful with their sales. High traffic areas may do better than shops that are off the beaten track.
Create a Home Workshop to Prepare Your Items
Before taking your treasures to the mall they need to be prepared. Everything needs to be clean and priced. Setup an area in your home to work with your items. A basement or spare room works well with a few tables and shelves. Some supplies that you will need are price tags, string, scissor, paper punch and plastic sleeves for paper goods to get started. I always kept a basket of supplies handy in my car for quick repairs while working at the mall. You never know when a price tag might fall off or you need to make a quick sign.
Start with a clean empty space. Decide on a theme to use such as country, contemporary, deco, manly, classic or whatever fits the type of antiques that you plan to sell. Decorate the walls, floor and shelves first before adding your antiques. Decide if you need to add shelf paper to your shelves or carpet to the floor. Many booth spaces use pegboard for the walls so you can easily hang your products. Lacy tablecloths work well to hide bare walls and it allows hanging hooks.
Organize Your Treasures to Display
Measure and draw a general floor plan of how to display your products. At home you can prearrange your sections on a table or in a room. This makes it easier to visually see how your displays will look and save time setting up at the mall. Once you have a general plan pack your items carefully in boxes and head to the mall.
Once you are ready to start decorating, place your largest pieces in the space first, such as furniture and then add the smaller accent pieces. The first time you set up your booth will be the hardest and take the most time. Give yourself plenty of time to accomplish this task. It can feel a little overwhelming so you may want to do it over several days. If possible, ask a friend or family member to help you. After the initial setup is done maintaining and stocking can be done on a weekly or monthly basis.
The first impression is the most important. When viewing a booth one should be able to get a sense of where things are and what is being sold. Keep things grouped that belong together. Keep sets of items together such as dishware or sports memorabilia. Shoppers will glance for things that catch their eye. They know what they are looking for so do not hide anything. No one likes to look through layers of things to find something at the bottom of a pile.
Each item needs to be priced and to have a price tag attached to it. The price tags need to be readable and easy to attach to your items without damaging the product. The best way to accomplish that is to attach with a ribbon or string. Avoid placing scotch tape or stickers on items that could be ruined from the glue such as paper products.
Ask the shop owner how they want your tags designed. Each tag will need your booth ID. Sometimes the ID is a number and sometimes it is a unique name such as “Lady Bug” Plan a code to use on your price tags for your inventory control.
Pricing Your Items
One way to determine your selling prices is to research completed sales on eBay. The completed sales will give you a sense for what buyers are willing to pay for items. Don’t forget to add the shipping price that eBay buyers pay. You can always sell your products for less if you find that certain items are not selling well in your area. A rule of thumb is to double your cost. But sometimes, you purchase things at a super bargain so don’t sell cheaper than you need to. Compare the pricing of other dealers in the Mall and keep yours about the same. Sometimes you will see price tags marked firm. The reason you mark an item firm is so that you can run a sale with one large sign in your booth stating something similar to – 25% off all items unless marked firm.
Keep Tract of Your Inventory
Create a spreadsheet or inventory list on paper to track your sales and profit. Running a booth is a small business and you will need to apply some business procedures to your project. The easiest way to keep track of your inventory on display is to take photos of your display. Unfortunately sometimes theft will occur from your booth. This may happen with smaller items such as jewelry. To secure valuable pieces use a locked case.
Advertise with Business Cards
Design a business card that describes what you have for sale. Such as, if you specialize in Antique Hardware mention that on the card along with the Antique Mall Name. You can use an email address for communication. Place a stack of cards in your booth. Many shoppers will pick up these cards and refer back to them when they are looking for what you are selling.
Create a Facebook page to post items that you have for sale. Many malls now have their own Facebook page and will allow you to post photos and descriptions.
Track Your Sales and Costs
This is a small business and needs to be reported on your taxes. The advantage to running a small business will be your tax deductions. Discuss this with your tax accountant and decide the best way for you to set this up and what expenses you can deduct.
At first, you may start by just de-cluttering your house. We all seem to collect a lot of treasures over the years. Another way is to attend auctions and estate sales. Auctions are a good way to purchase a group of items in a lot that can be broken apart and sold individually. My special auction tip is to be patient with your bidding, save your money to spend at the end of an auction. Buyers become tired and cash poor as the night goes on and at the very end one can pick up lots at huge discounts. Estate sales are the same way, the last day of the sale most items sell for half price.
Labor of Love
All of this may seem like a lot of work, but it is truly a labor of love. Learning and researching Antiques and Collectibles will keep your mind active. There is a whole community of dealers who you will get acquainted with. Many will become lifelong friends. You can express and use your creativity when you set up your displays. There is a lot involved in setting up an antique booth display, but with each step, your dream of creating your own business becomes closer. Enjoy the journey it should be a pleasant one.