Monday, September 29, 2014

A Short Term Booth

Not every vendor wants to work at a crazy pace all year long keeping up a booth.  Some would prefer to take it a little slower.  A part time booth could be the answer for many vendors.

One option is to only keep a booth open part of the year and use the rest of the year to gather and prepare and relax.  Most malls want a contract for 6 months, so that's what I'll discuss here.   I'm going to work up a little pretend example.  Meet Doris.  She has a booth for 6 months of every year.

Doris has a booth every year from October til the end of March.  That seems to work best for her.  During the months Doris has no booth she is able to devote her extra time to treasure hunting and fixing up.  She spends many Fridays and Saturdays going to yard sales looking for bargains.  She uses her other days to paint, clean, price and sort.

Doris likes to have nice vignettes in her booth, so as she begins to accumulate a nice pile of treasures, she begins looking for themes.   She has storage space in her basement, so she can easily sort things into display groups.  She looks for good color combinations and what items are used for.  Kitchen things are put together.  Desk items together.  Bedroom items together.  You get the idea, right?

As it gets closer to time to open, Doris has a pretty good idea of the order of her vignettes.  She doesn't put everything in at once.  Her booth needs to look pretty darned good for 5 of her 6 months.  The last month (March)  is her clearance sale month and people are more forgiving then.

Doris rents her booth for $200 a month.  That's $1200 for 6 months.  If she had a booth for 12 months, she'd spend $2400, so that's a pretty good savings.  She'd also have to work a whole lot harder.  Doris is a vendor who does it for fun and a little pocket money.  The part time booth gives her more time to enjoy life while keeping her profits a tiny bit better.  It gives her more time to relax and enjoy her family.  Doris is not on the high-speed-buy-sell treadmill the whole year.

The "Doris Example" is a 6 months on, 6 months off plan.  That's just one option. Some might want to have a booth from August to June - when their kids are in school.


If you think this plan might work for you, 
there are some downsides to consider. 

The riskiest part is finding a booth exactly when you need it.  You should begin talking to mall owners a couple of months before you hope to start up.  If a coveted booth opens sooner, it might be good to jump on it.  Some years, you may not get a booth til a month or two after you planned to open.  It's a risk.

The booth you get will likely not be in a prime location.  It's more likely to be in an out-of-the way spot with bad lighting.  Don't let that stop you.  A good vendor can make lemonade out of lemons.  If your booth has good stuff, it will sell.  If it's displayed well, it will sell even better.

Some mall owners may not like that moving in and out.  You might seem less serious.  However, if you show them that you are bringing in great items that sell and are a wonderful booth vendor all around, they may be happy to have you on the terms you want.  If all goes well, they will look forward to you returning each year.

Moving in and out of booths can be a hassle.


Another option is to partner with a vendor friend.  You could find a booth you both like and instead of giving it up, the friend could take over.  Some malls might want you to use the same vendor number.  If so, you'd have to work together pretty well to split profits on payday.

During transition times, it might be nice for the leaving vendor to be able to remove things slowly and the incoming vendor could bring things in slowly.  Or it may be that some things can be left in.  Maybe just the large items are removed when the next person takes over.

Some malls might not like this plan.  The owner may not realize that it's actually to their advantage.  Every so many months, they'd have a fresh vendor with fresh merchandise.  I usually recommend being very honest, but if you are going to use this plan, it might be best to let people assume the two of you are partners year round.  No one needs to know your plan really except the two booth partners.  There are all sorts of options for making this scenario work.


This whole idea of part time boothing highlights one key benefit to the life of a booth vendor.  It's flexible!  You make of it what you want.  I love that.