Your own antique business, Selling StockBy
Your own antiques business part 5 – selling stock
Selling your antique or vintage items is such a vital part of your antiques business that I am splitting this part into 2. Today I am going to talk about selling in real life venues and next time I will talk about selling on-line including eBay and your own website.
There are several real life ways of selling your antiques including :
Car Boots sales,Flea Markets, Antique Fairs, Antiques Centers, Auction Houses.
I’m not covering setting up your own antiques shop as I dont have any experience with this.
Selling at Car Boot Sales and Flea Markets
Suitable for when you have lots of low grade vintage / antique items which you want to move on quickly and cheaply. Car Boot sales are a good place to learn about selling but dont bother if you only have higher value stock. You can get rid of your household junk to help raise money for antique stock.
There is not much difference between selling at car boot sales and flea markets. Check out the local car boots and flea markets in your area. Its worth looking through your local paper to find these and ringing up to find out when they are on, what time you need to turn up, how much do they charge you to have a stall and if you need to book in advance.
Your do not need to stick price labels on your stock for these venues but you should have a rough idea about how much you wish to charge for each item. Take lots of small change and lots of supermarket carrier bags or other packaging suitable for your items. Potential purchasers will sometimes walk away if you cannot give them change or provide packaging.
You will normally have to provide your own table at a car boot sale but many flea markets will provide one for you.
Take care early on of dealers wanting to “Help You ” unpack or ask if they can rummage through your stock before you manage to get it out of the car. The pieces they are after will sell anyway so there is no panic to sell to the pushy ones in the first 10 minutes. I have been know to put my tables out and then lock up the car and walk away for 15 minutes until the initial panic is over. This avoids precious pots being broken or small items being stolen whilst you are looking elsewhere.
I spent many years selling at antiques fairs nearly every weekend and I loved it. There can be a great buzz at fairs, setting up your stall to make it look attractive and then the anticipation of selling your antiques. There are many different types of fairs from single day fairs which cost less than £50 to take a stall up to the largest multi day fairs which can cost Thousands to stand. Some of the larger fairs are date lines and or vetted. Date lined fairs require you to only have stock which is before a certain date. This date varies from fair to fair – check with the organiser they will advise. Vetted fairs have a team of people who will check your stock before the fair opens. They check that the stock for sale meets the dateline of the fair and perhpas that the stock is all labeled with a correct description.
Perhaps before you jump straight in you should visit a few fairs and look for a fair where they are selling stock with a similar price range to yours.
Things to check at the fair or ask the organiser:
When is the fair and how much is a stall. Stall prices will sometimes vary depending on where you have the stall within the fair. Its your choice but stalls with their backs to a wall are always popular with stall holders as are stalls on the ends of a row.
What dates are the fair and what time you should turn up. At most fairs the stall holders turn up two or three hours before the fair opens. If this is the case you should do too otherwise you will not get set up in time.
How much space do you get for your money? What tables are provided and can you hire more if necessary? How many of your own tables can you put out?
What electricity is provided? You need lots of light to make vintage jewellery or glass sparkle and to show up pottery. Take portable lights, a couple of adapters and an extension cable.
Things to take to the fair:
Stock ready labeled with prices. Wrap it up well and transport in strong boxes .
Tables and portable shelves. Clamps to hold the shelves onto the table if you intend to stand the shelves on the tables.
Glass display cases if you are selling antique jewellery or other small precious items
Table cloths, display stands for plates, cups and saucers, books
Packaging from your sold items. A personal note here – I hate stuff wrapped in Newspaper. If I am spending £10 or more I want it wrapped in bubble wrap not a grubby and torn piece of old newspaper.A supermarket carrier bag will do.
A note book and pen to write out receipts and record sales in. Business cards if you have them but you can start your business without these and just write down your name and phone number if asked for your contact details.
Spare price labels, some will come off and you may wish to re-price some items during the sale.
Change, notes and coins.
A hot flask, food and reading matter especially if you are standing the fair on your own as you will find it difficult to leave the stall
As you can see there is a lot of stuff to transport to the fair. I found a trolley invaluable to help with the transportation. You will find most other dealers use one too.
Selling through antiques centers can be profitable and it is something you can do along side standing at an antiques fair or selling on-line. Find out where the centers are in your area and pay them all a visit. In the past I have had stalls in 5 different centers. At one point I had stalls in three centers at once which was probably not a good idea ( see the final paragraph on mistakes to avoid).
Selling though centers you avoid a lot of the personal contact with your customers which you get at fairs. This can be both good and bad depending on how well you deal with people.
Things to find out before choosing you antiques center.
What stalls or cabinets are available and what is the cost options. You will normally find there is a fixed charge and the antiques center may take a % of every sale.
At some centers you just pay a flat monthly fee but are requires to spend some time working in the center each week for no wage. This is a great way to learn about antiques and other antiques dealers, if you have the time its well worth looking at this type of center.
How much space do you get? Are any stalls / cabinets provided or so you need to provide your own?
Ask how and when you get paid . This varies between centers .
Take a look round the centers at different times of the week. Are they busy? Also are they open on Sundays? If not I would consider going elsewhere as Sundays are popular days for trips to antiques center. If centers are very quiet at weekends you will probably not sell much.
Take a look around , are there other dealers selling stuff the similar to yours. This can be good as a lot of the same stock attracts customers BUT can your prices stand the competition.
The center owner or manager is unlikely to be completely open about your chances of selling much in their center. Their job is to rent out the stalls.
Selling through Auction Houses
These days I sell through auciton houses rather than taking my low grade stock to car boots. I dont have time for car boots nowadays and selling through auctions is a quick and easy way to off load stock even if it may not be the most profitable. I have written extensively in the past about real life auctions , look here for my guide to selling at auciton
A few mistakes to avoid
We all learn through experience and in these articles I am trying to pass some of mine on . I’ve made quite a few mistakes in the past, I hope this helps avoid them.
- Do not try and do too many fairs or take on too many stalls at antiques centers. Rents are costly and you can only sell each piece of stock once. If you price your stock relatively cheaply it will sell quickly and you do not need to have so many selling venues and are not paying out so much rent. At one stage I had stock in three centers and was standing an antiques fair most weeks. The rents I needed to cover were so high that I had to price my stock quite high and then it was not selling. It took me several moths to realise the problem and the solution. I dropped down to selling through one center and only taking a stall at the most profitable fairs. At the same time I dropped the prices of my stock a little. I managed to sell almost the same amount with vastly reduced overheads and made more profit for less effort.
- Watch you stock there are thieves about and they will try and distract you.
- Label your stock well, you do need to know how much to charge at a fair and you may not get paid for sold stock in a center if your name is not on the piece.
Next time I will look at selling on eBay and setting up your own website.