I mentioned in my last post that I participated in my first vintage market at GypsyFaire. It was such a great weekend! I got to meet a lot of vintage lovers, spend time with vendor friends like Roland and Lisa of Pallet Refined and make a lot of customers happy!
It was also a great learning experience! Before I participated I scoured the internet for tips and found only a few suggestions. As an educator, I’m all about learning and sharing what I’ve learned with others. So, here are some of the lessons I learned:
1. Square – It would be ideal for everyone to carry and pay for items with cash. However, we live in a world of plastic users! Before the event my husband ordered and registered my “business” with Square. It’s a great little device that I could plug into my phone and use it to swipe credit cards. It was so easy to use and allowed us to sell more than if we had only accepted cash.
2. Variety- It’s important to have a variety of items and price points. I had an 8ft sofa table my husband put together with some reclaimed lumber for $395 and some dried lavender bunches from my mom’s garden for $3. There were a pair of reupholstered cane back chairs for $150 and a 1940’s baby scale for $45. There was a chippy weathered windmill for $100 and some hand painted signs for $18.
3. Boy Scout Motto – Be prepared for anything! That includes weather! Our first day started with a fair amount of rain. I had planned to put a rug on the floor of our booth which seemed like less of a good idea with the rain. Luckily, we had packed some plastic drop cloths that we placed on the ground first. My partner, Shannon, was the Queen of preparation. She had wipes, extra shopping bags for small items and even a large jar of water flavored with cucumber and mint.
4. Display – It’s important to create a space that feels as polished as a real store, but also really accessible. In addition to the rug to create a floor, we added solid curtains to the back to create a wall behind which we could keep extra items. A simple bunting made with torn canvas, flowery fabric, and pom poms added a decorative element to a boring tent.
As far as the inside, the sofa table was really a nice piece but ended up looking like a display table for the cutting boards. We moved it to a different location the second day and it got a lot of attention.
5. When in doubt, bring it anyway. – You never know what will attract a buyer. I painted a last minute sign that didn’t seem all that special, but it ended up being the first item to sell. On the opposite end of the spectrum the caned back chairs mentioned above paired with a cute matching pedestal table seemed like a no-brainer. Lots of interest, but it didn’t actually sell until almost a week after the event to someone who had seen it but walked away.
6. Strategy – The first day of the event was really busy. We were overwhelmed with foot traffic at times. Day two was completely different. It was really slow with a fraction of the people from the first day. Putting out everything the first day is the best strategy as long as the booth doesn’t seem too cluttered.
7. Signage and Branding – I was fortunate that my cousin-in-law Shannon of Next Day Signs had created a great sign for me in advance of the event. I hadn’t really put much thought into a sign. My mom took an idea I had and created some amazing price tags. The one thing I didn’t have was business cards. I never thought anyone would be impressed enough to want to seek me or my business out after the event. I had many requests and ended up writing my Facebook info down for a few. Next time I will definitely have cards.
8. Network- For me this business is a completely enjoyable hobby. However, I love the dream of one day doing it full time! In order to hone my business acumen I need to keep attending vendor markets and other events where I can build a clientele. Networking with other vendors is essential to gain valuable feedback.
I can’t wait until the next event. There is always more to learn!