Monday, April 6, 2015

Trend Watch: Reducing Clutter

Over the last few years, I have found myself longing for (and slowly working towards) a simpler life.   My dream is to have a much smaller home with only the things that I love and find useful.  I want more emphasis on making memories than storing keepsakes.

Obviously, I'm not alone in my quest.  In fact, I'd say it's a trend that is growing.  I recently came across a great article (you can read the entire article HERE) that made me think of this trend in terms of having a booth.  Baby boomers are wanting to get rid of their stuff, but their kids aren't wanting much of it because they want their lives to be simpler.

“My parents are always trying to give us stuff,” says Kelly Phillips, 29, a real estate marketer. “It’s stuff like bunches of old photos and documents, old bowls or cocktail glasses. We hate clutter. We would rather spend money on experiences.”
Many baby boomers are downsizing and they have tons of things to get rid of.  That's both good and bad.  On one hand, picking is getting easier.  On the other, the market is getting more and more over-saturated, which makes it harder for vendors to have good sales.

Stephanie Kenyon, 60, the owner of Sloans & Kenyon Auctioneers and Appraisers, says the market is flooded with boomer rejects. “Hardly a day goes by that we don't get calls from people who want to sell a big dining room set or bedroom suite because nobody in the family wants it. Millennials don't want brown furniture, rocking chairs or silver-plated tea sets. Millennials don't polish silver.” The formal furniture is often sold at bargain prices, or if it’s not in good shape, it might go straight to the dump.
Should you throw in the towel?  Not necessarily.  You might just need to adjust your thinking a bit.

Tip 1: Stock your booth mostly with things that people actually NEED.

There are certain things people will ALWAYS need.  Even a minimalist needs a bed.  Downsizing seniors have never been a vendor's key market, but even seniors sometimes need furniture.  Their items may break or wear out after years of hard family abuse.  OR, as they downsize, they may want to trade in their huge dining set for something smaller.  OR, they may, like me, want to get rid of things they've made do with and replace them with things that are nicer.

Married couples are often in a constant state of change where home furnishings are concerned.  As their families grow, so do their needs.  Having a child means that child will likely need a bed, a side table and a chest of drawers.  They may find that once their parents downsize, they are the ones having to host Thanksgiving dinners and they may need those larger tables.

Couples working from home may need a desk and shelves.  It's usually not a petite little desk like most people used decades ago.  It's a bit larger (without being overly heavy or massive) with room to work.

Young adults just moving out on their own have lots of needs.  Often they start with hand-me-downs, but they're seldom satisfied with that.  They are eager to redo and sport their own style.

Tip 2: Beware of Clutter!

Few people's needs include "clutter".  When I say clutter, I am referring to things that are not useful.  That includes collectibles, knick-knacks, tchotchkes and do-dads.  It includes furniture that serves no purpose.

That doesn't mean they won't sell at all.  But, many customers are choosier about their knick knacks.  Tchotchkes that are pretty and trendy will continue to sell to most everyone but minimalists.    Pretty decor inspiration photos can be found all over and there will always be people wanting to create similar beautiful vignettes in their home.  These things often are not useful, but they are so pretty that customers still want them.  If you can stock small decor that is both pretty and serves a purpose, it will probably sell very well.

Tip 3:  Don't overload your booth.

It's wonderful to have a good selection of accessories in you booth, but if your booth looks too cluttered, you can actually turn off buyers who are working hard to create a comfortable, yet uncluttered look in their home.  Ponder this... How many times have you walked past a booth that feels too cluttered and junky?  How many times have you wandered into a booth that feels like you wish your home felt?

Tip 4:  Be VERY choosy when you are out picking.

Look for items that you could picture in a nicely done decor magazine photo.

Keep in mind that the vintage 1940's and 50's trend is not all that popular anymore.  Magazines are seldom featuring kitchens with that once trendy, cutesy, vintage look.  I fell in love with that look along with many others a few years back, but like many, I'm over it.  Which brings me to my next tip:

Tip 5:  Watch decorating trends like a hawk and keep your booth current with what's hot.

In fact, try to give your booth the look that your customers are wanting to create in their homes.


By the way, every vendor's goals are different.  If you looked at my booth these days, you'd probably wonder why I'm not taking my own advice.  My booth's soul purpose is to help me declutter.  With very few exceptions, everything I am selling is coming straight out of my house, including plenty of things that I still love, but just don't need.  My hubby and I are downsizer-wanna-be's.  One day, everything we own will be moved to a very small, but wonderful home.  When that day comes, I hope we have already pared down so the move will be easy.  I hope to have gotten rid of everything that won't be both needed and loved in that cozy little home.  Meanwhile, our current home will feel calmer and less cluttered.  We probably aren't moving anytime soon, but by then, I hope to happily living with less.