Friday, June 19, 2015

Cluttered Booths and Changing Styles

I recently visited a couple of out-of-town antique malls.  It was interesting.  One thing stood out - the clutter effect.  Many of the booths that seemed the most cluttered were having sales - 20% or 30% off everything in the booth.  The regular prices were low.  It was obvious they were just concerned about low sales.

I'm sure there were treasures to be had, but it just looked like a mass of unwanted junk.  I found myself standing in the aisle and doing a quick booth skim.  I didn't even want to enter those booths.  It looked like exactly what I want to steer clear of.  I suspect many customers felt the same way and the poor vendors are no doubt thinking that if they just mark things down, those knick knacks will sell.

It also brought to mind something else that I have noticed more and more.  About 5 years ago, having vintage smalls were all the rage -especially old kitchen items.  Many people decorated with all sorts of things from especially the 40's and 50's.  Magazine photos were full of photos examples of  people who achieved the perfect vintage look.

Now, in those same magazines, you still see some vintage items but having too much now looks overdone and sad.  There will likely always be a draw for vintage items, but the way they are used and showcased changes.  A vendor needs to stay on top of the shifts in styles!

As I've said before, the next hot style doesn't seem to be here yet, but people know what they are tired of!  Unless you are a specialty booth with continuing good sales, you need to make sure your booth isn't selling mostly what most people no longer want to see.  Look through current magazines and popular Pinterest pins to see what is trending in terms of styles and colors.  Keep your booth current and you won't have to have a booth wide clearance sale!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Closing a Booth

One benefit of having a booth is that there is a great deal of flexibility.  You can work on it as much and as often as you like.  You can even take a break from it entirely.  That's exactly what I'm about to do.  At the end of this month, I am closing my booth.  I have no idea how long my break will last.  I may even explore other  selling options.

If you have been following this blog or my Facebook page, you may know that my husband died.  After seeming perfectly strong and healthy, he was suddenly diagnosed with cancer back at the end of October.  He died May 7th.  As you can imagine, I am reeling.  I find myself not even knowing who I am.  We'd been married for 36-1/2 years and even though I considered myself to be a very independent person, it seems I was mistaken.  I feel like half of me is gone.

In addition to the overwhelming emotions, there are tons of details to be taken care of when settling affairs.  There are also tons of things I now take care of that my husband used to be in charge of.  I find myself with absolutely no interest in having a booth, which is unexpected.  I have more things than ever to sell, but just don't want to deal with keeping up a booth.  A break is exactly what I need.

I won't be completely out of the biz.  I will continue doing the Facebook page for Collectors' Corner.  I hope to get back to more posts here, as well.  Working on the computer in the evenings is therapeutic.  It's work that feels more like play nd it keeps my mind from dwelling on sad things.

Closing a Booth  - When you sign up to have a booth, you generally sign a contract and agree to keep your booth for at least a certain amount of time.  Six months seems to be the norm.  If you have a major life event, most store owners will work with you if you need to close a booth before that.  If you want to close before your 6 months is up to move to another store or because you are just tired of it, that's not OK.  You'll lose your deposit and you'll not be able to change your mind and come back in the future.

If you plan to close your booth, I highly recommend that you do everything you can to close on a positive note and on very good terms with the owner.  Give AT LEAST 30 days notice.  That's probably on your contract. No bad mouthing. Leave your booth looking clean and nice.  Make sure it's completely empty before the last day of the month.  Don't burn any bridges.  Leave in a way that if you ever wanted to return, you'd be welcomed.

Most owners are used to vendors coming and going.  It's the nature of the business.  Even so, some owners may take it personally.  Just do your best to stay on friendly terms.  If the owner really likes you and is desperate to keep you around, he/she owner may even try to sweeten your deal.  A popular mall with a vendor waiting list won't need to do that unless they consider your booth to be a major draw.

My exit will be easy.  I had met my contract time.  I have a good reason for leaving - a major life event.  I gave more than 30 days notice.  I will be sure to have everything out of my booth before the end of the month.  Lori, the owner, was super nice about the whole thing.  When I'm ready to come back, I feel certain I'll be welcome.  I left my previous store on very good terms as well and still consider everyone there a friend.

Clearance Sales - You'll probably want to have a clearance sale so you won't have so much to lug home.  You may want to mark some things down or you may want to mark everything down.

If you are having a sale, make BIG signs to put in your booth. Signs printed on standard size paper just aren't that effective, even if you have several of them scattered around your booth.  Don't be lazy when you are having a sale.  GO BIG!   Spend a little time making an attention getting sign.  It will pay off!  A large chalkboard on an easel is my personal favorite, but there are other wonderful options.  After you put out your sign, stand way back from your booth and see if you notice it.

When to take things out of your booth - If you are moving your booth from one store to another, you may want to do it all in one fell swoop, which is exhausting.  Depending on your move in day at the new store, you may be able to do it all in one day.  If there's a few days wait til your new space is available, then your options depend on your vehicles and storage.

If you are closing entirely and have to take things home, I highly recommend getting a head start.  Start by bringing home the things you don't mind keeping.  Leave things you seriously hope will sell til the end and make them look as fabulous as you possibly can!

Even though I won't 
have a booth, 
at some point, 
I will begin exploring 
other selling options 
- Etsy, Ebay, yard sales, markets.  

I have sold on Ebay in the past, but, frankly, it's been a while.  I have things to sell that would be a good fit for each of these venues.  Each venue is a bit different.  I'm not sure when I'll get started on that, but when I do, I plan to post about it.

I have said in the past that in this business, it helps to have other outlets for sales.  For instance, sometimes, when you have a nice collectible item, you can sell it online faster and for more money than you might be able to in a booth.

Part Time Booths - I am taking a break because of life circumstances, but there are other business reasons where some people may benefit from having a short term booth - 6 months on (enough to fulfill the contract), followed by a break.  The key is to figure out what you expect from this business and how to get it.  Rent comes out every month regardless of whether you are selling or not.  Some months are typically slow and may be a perfect time to take a break.  April, May and June seem to be the slowest for me.  Depending on what you sell and where you sell, you may have other months that are your worst.  I have talked more about the part time booth concept in this post - A Short Term Booth.

Now, I need to take my own advice - I still don't have a large fabulous sale sign in my booth.  I guess I'd better get off the computer and get busy, right?