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December 14, 2017

Should You Open an Antique Mall Booth?


Should you open an antique mall booth? The answer to that question will vary according to who you ask. Folks who have opened a booth and failed will, of course, tell you “no”. Many antique dealers will tell you “no” as well, citing the fact that their sales are getting lower every year. Operators who run successful booths will always encourage you to open one, because they realize that, in the antiques business, customers are attracted to the varied inventories of multi-dealer malls. Rather than competition, more dealers grouped together means more sales for all.

As a licensed auctioneer, I get weekly auction sales results from all over the country. Auction sales are setting records; average prices have never been higher IF YOU ARE OFFERING THE RIGHT KIND OF MERCHANDISE.

As an antiques trade columnist and author, I visit antique shops, malls, and shows regularly and speak with dealers often. What is true for auctions has proven true for antique shops as well: Dealers who offer collectible and noteworthy merchandise are making sales; dealers who offer vintage but nondescript, easily obtainable merchandise are struggling.

You see, old-time, well-established dealers are stuck in a rut. They don’t have websites, they don’t advertise, they don’t particpate in social media. Their stores are a theme-less cornucopia of poorly displayed, poorly lit merchandise. Back in the 1980s, all they had to do to run a successful antique business was rent space, fill it with products, and wait for the customers to come in and spend money. They haven’t kept up with the times, and all they do about it is whine. Today, running a successful antique business takes a bit more work.

How can you determine what merchandise is selling, and what you should stock? Easy. Follow the sales trends on eBay and furnishing/fashion trends online and in magazines.

How should you set up your booth displays? Here’s Gary Stover’s take on what a good booth looks like. Gary is the owner of The Brass Armadillo antique mall in Denver, CO. He’s right on the money here, so (if you’re seriously considering opening a booth) it’s worth 30 minutes of your time to give it a listen.

But, having a successful booth is more than merchandising and inventory: you have to manage your money well or you’ll find yourself out of business within the first year. Remember: most companies that go out of business are profitable, they just run out of cash. Don’t let that happen to you. It’s imperative that you understand the relationship between your money, your inventory, and your expenses before you even consider signing a booth lease. To get a handle on financial matters, have a look at my book “Antique Mall Profits for Dealers and Dabblers”. It’s gotten very good reviews, and it’s only $2.99. You can get a free Kindle reader for PCs and mobile devices at Amazon. Frankly, new dealers can’t afford to be without it.

Should you open a mall booth? Only you can answer that question. But before you do, do some research and make sure you know what’s involved. Done right, you can set yourself up with a nice, steady second (or primary!) income for the rest of your life.

Best of luck…
Wayne

Originally posted 2016-09-17 11:54:54.

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About Wayne Jordan

Wayne Jordan is a Virginia-licensed Auctioneer (#3481), as well as an AIA and CAGA Certified Personal Property Appraiser.

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