Wednesday, January 1, 2014

What Color Should I Paint It?

Vendors are generally creative and adventurous.  When we paint furniture, it's far more fun to show our talent by choosing pretty colors, interesting paint techniques, and the hottest trends. You need to think twice when you paint something. That pretty, quirky look may satisfy your creative impulses, but it won't necessarily help your bottom line.

As much as it grieves me to say this, the larger the item and the more expensive and item, the more you should consider choosing a neutral paint color and a neutral paint technique. In the everyday vendor world, bland can be beautiful.  Hear me out on this before you dismiss it.

This chest sold the first day it was featured on Facebook.

When an average income customer comes to a store looking for say, a chest of drawers, they need a chest that will go with their decor... hopefully, for a long time.  The room accessories are most often where they add color and pizazz - not furniture.  Color choices come and go, but for many people, the chest they buy will be the chest they'll have to live with for a long time.  If they are decorating their room in blue and white, they probably won't get a chest that is blue, even if it's the perfect shade of blue.  They may get tired of blue in a year or two.  They don't want to be stuck.

White is different.  Customers can make a  white chest work with lots of color schemes.  Other neutrals are good as well - off white, taupe, gray or greige, even black.

This secretary sold the first day it was featured on Facebook.

When you paint a piece you're selling a neutral shade, you've expanded your potential purchasing group.  Say there are 50 people coming to your store in a given month looking specifically for a chest of drawers.  Many of those will be able to work a white or off white chest into their decor.  Only 1 or 2 will be able to use a chest that's turquoise... if you're lucky.  In fact, you may have to sit on a turquoise chest (even a beautiful one) for many months before the right customer sees it.

Put another way - How many people decorate their bedrooms in turquoise?  How many of those are looking for a chest?  How many of those are so in love with turquoise that they feel sure they'll stick with that color scheme for a long, long time - long enough to feel that buying a turquoise chest is a wise purchase?

If you want to have fun, choose a small piece for showing your creativity.  People don't mind spending money on a small versatile side table that's a bit adventurous.  Also, those small, fabulously painted tables will add pizazz to your booth while they are waiting to be sold.

This pretty red table sold within about a week of it being featured on the store Facebook page.  We've had chests and hutches painted a similar color that took months to sell.  The table was reasonably priced.  It's versatile and could be used in a number of rooms. And, if worse comes to worse, a customer wouldn't feel too bad giving it away if they tired of it in a few years.

As with almost all of my tips, there are exceptions.

There are always pieces painted in very UN-neutral colors that turn out so fabulous they sell super fast.  They are usually painted by very talented people who have a knack for choosing colors that leave customers gawking in awe.  I love color and am not afraid to buy something like that.  There are definitely other customers like me.

I see fabulous quirky pieces online that sell fast.  They are often presented by bloggers who have a big following.  They are marketed so well that the right customer will come to them faster than the typical vendor.  If you have a great following and you have a style that your customers love, keep it up.  If you are a small vendor struggling in a sea of other struggling vendors,  keep the large items neutral.  If you paint furniture very creatively, but the amount of time you have to wait for things to sell makes you sad, then maybe you need to rethink your paint strategy.  If you have a booth just for fun and the income is totally unimportant, paint all your furniture any way you want.  :-D

I promote for a fun antique mall.  I see what sells.  I see what doesn't.  All three of the photos on this post are items from that were in that store.   I love to estimate how long it might take for certain pieces to sell.  If there was a gambling ring set up around sales for antique malls, I would probably be banned from playing.  I'd win at least 80% of the time.  The other 20%?  There are always pieces that sell quickly that leave me flabbergasted.  If you aren't just in the booth business JUST for the fun, then increase your odds.  Use neutrals for large pieces.