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How an antique mall works

If you’ve ever wandered the aisles of an antique mall and wondered “how it works” to be a vendor, this post is for you. It might even help you decide whether to explore vendor opportunities for yourself. An antique mall (and by ‘antiques’ I mean true antiques, second-hand vintage and mid-century items, and maybe even the whole “collectibles” category – most malls are a combination of all of these) as you probably know is typically a large building sectioned off into individual spaces, with each space managed by a different vendor. At the most basic level, the vendors rent the space from the mall, then sell their merchandise from their booths, hoping to earn more in sales than the cost of rent and other fees charged by the mall.

Antique Mall Booth | Hazel & Verdie

Of course, there’s a bit more to it than a simple space-for-rent agreement. The details of the agreement should be examined carefully before you sign up for a space. In addition to understanding the basic concepts of retail merchandising and what items might be good sellers in your booth, it’s important to understand the terms of the agreement you’re signing. Here are some common elements of antique mall agreements.

Rent, Commission and Fees
Rent is typically priced by the square foot, and is charged either monthly or twice-monthly. So for example, in a mall where space is $2.25 per square foot per month, an 8×10 foot booth (80 square feet) is $180 per month. You might also be able to encroach into the aisle a bit (one mall I’ve been in allowed this while two others did not). And, don’t forget to ask how high up you can go.

You’ll also most likely be charged a commission on your sales. In my area this ranges from 8-10 percent. And, other fees may also be assessed such as a credit/debit card fee, security fee, or others.

All of this means you must sell enough in merchandise to cover your rent, commission and all fees. If you don’t, you will owe money to your mall at the end of the pay period. Anything above and beyond all this is what they will pay out to you.

Deposits
Some malls require you to pay a month’s rent up front; others do not. One variation on this is that you may be required to pay your final month’s rent in advance. This assures the mall that you won’t “skip out” after giving your notice to vacate. Or, you may be asked to pay your final month’s rent in advance on the day you give your notice. In any case, if you have paid rent in advance for a given pay period, then rent should not also be deducted from that period’s earnings.

Frequency of Payout
Some malls offer monthly payouts, and some offer bi-weekly payouts. It’s important to know what you can expect here, as well as the exact date on which you can pick up your statement and/or check. Also be sure you understand the mall’s policy on carrying over any rent that might be due if you did not sell enough. One mall I was in offered bi-weekly payouts, and would allow vendors to carry over any due rent into the next pay period.

What you get for your rent
Your contract should specify everything that the mall provides to you in exchange for your rent, sales commission, and fees. These items may include: employee wages and all associated costs of employing workers to staff the mall; utilities; sales taxes (which they collect from customers and remit to the state on your behalf), price tags, sales reports to vendors, and business expenses associated with running the mall itself.

A note about sales reports:Your mall most likely uses computer software to track sales. (If they don’t, you should seriously consider a different mall.) This computer software has the capability to generate a monthly statement of all your sales, but also the capability to create a daily sales report. Being in a mall that automatically emails you a daily sales report gives you a nearly invaluable advantage – you can know almost immediately whether a major piece has sold, leaving a void in your merchandising space.

Required Sales
Some malls require dealers to participate in store-wide discount days. In our area, two of the three malls I’ve been in did not require this, and one did. In the mall that did, they routinely promoted 15 percent-off days – this meant that dealers were required to sell their merchandise for 15 percent off, and also pay 10 percent commission to the mall, for a total discount on each item of 25 percent. You have to factor this in to your pricing, and still be able to make a profit on your items.

Offering discounts in your booth
Be sure you understand whether and how the mall requires you to handle having a discount sale in your booth. Some may allow you (using signage) to state the percent off that you are offering, while others may only allow you to say you are offering a discount that the customer must inquire about at the checkout desk. They’ll probably want you to also let them know when the sale is over, so staff doesn’t continue to offer your discount longer than you intended. Just be sure you communicate the parameters of your sale with the mall manager.

Disputes Over Pricing
Occasionally, you may find that the mall has sold something for the wrong price. Review your contract to understand how they will (or will not) adjust your sales report (and therefore your payout) in the event of an error.

Holds
If it’s not stated in the contract, ask the mall manager how they handle customer requests to “hold” merchandise without payment. It is not in your best interest to allow the mall to hold or place a sold tag on an item if they have not collected payment for it.

Security & Theft Recovery
While it’s important to understand how the mall handles security and prevention of shoplifting, don’t expect to ever get back an item that has been stolen from your booth. Sadly, this has been our direct personal experience – the only times we lost merchandise, it was stolen from the one mall that had the best and tightest security around. While they had a firmly established policy of how they would handle trying to catch the thief, our items were never recovered and we were just “out.”

You’ll likely learn a whole lot more about “how it works” when you are sitting with the mall manager, going over the contract, but above are the basics. And even if they don’t sit down with you to cover it, you should or course read your contract thoroughly before you sign and ask them any questions that come to mind.

You’re also welcome to ask any questions in the comments here, and I’ll be happy to share our personal experiences with you!

 

 

Booth news and furniture round-up

Wow kids, it’s been a long month with some ups and downs… but I am still here and ready to share more pickin’, paintin’ and junky fun!

First up on our little recap, Greg and I have made the decision to close our last remaining booth, which is at The Picker Knows here in West Des Moines. Personal changes mean that logistically it would be too difficult to continue. Plus, neither of us can really afford to be “on the hook” for the booth rent should we somehow fail to sell enough to cover it – although, I must say at PK that has never happened!

Anyway, at this time we’re planning to continue flipping furniture (and hopefully other junk too!) but will just be doing it without the booth. I’m a bit sad about this… I love so many things about PK!… but it just seems like this is the best path for now. So, May will be our last month in the booth and in all likelihood we’ll probably be out by Memorial Day Weekend. Do check us out in Booth #211 if you are local to the area; The Picker Knows is located at 1208 Grand Ave. in West Des Moines! Hours are 10-7 Monday thru Saturday and 10-5 Sunday.

In other news, we have sold some beautiful and FUN pieces lately and I wanted to share a few of our most recent favorites!

This buffet had a broken leg (which Greg fixed) but a classy Downton Abbey vibe with that pretty swag on the front – this sold to Traci of The Shabby Nest.

Beautiful buffet | Hazel & Verdie's
We also sold this little chest to Traci – the drawer pulls were beautiful.

Chest of drawers | Hazel & Verdie's

This French Provincial dresser was painted in a coffee bar theme when we bought it. It had a ton of personality “as is” but could also be repainted.

French coffee bar | Hazel & Verdie's

This fun little tea table had the prettiest harp design to the base.

Harp tea table | Hazel & Verdie's

And this amazing piece started life as a dresser/vanity (it came with a beautiful tall mirror!) but could also be repurposed as a buffet or sideboard.

Vanity/sideboard | Hazel & Verdie's

And now you are all caught up on our crazy pickin’ life. LOL More soon!

 

 

 

Restylist feature: Furniture re-do with Traci of The Shabby Nest

I’m so happy to sharShabby Nest Logo | Hazel & Verdie'se this little furniture re-do with you all, because I’m actually featuring one of the many talented artists who purchased her furniture from us!

Traci Gyles owns The Shabby Nest, a furniture and décor restyling business with a retail location in The Picker Knows Antique Mall in West Des Moines and a shop that she operates in St. Charles, Iowa. Traci says she’s been selling her painted pieces for about six years, including furniture and smaller home décor items.

She recently purchased this beautiful “gentleman’s dresser” from us and transformed it, so I wanted to show you the before-and-afters. Here’s the piece she purchased:

Shabby Nest Re-Do | Hazel & Verdie's
Traci said she was originally drawn to this piece because she loves to find pieces that are unique, and the ornate details of this dresser – and its size – caught her eye. Although she originally envisioned the dresser in a lighter, brighter shade, she wanted it to have a more masculine look because of its history as a “gentleman’s dresser.”

“I usually do light or bright colors,” she said, “… (but) I really wanted to play up all the amazing details.”

Here is the after!

Shabby Nest Re-Do | Hazel & Verdie's

Traci’s go-to paint brand is Wise Owl Synthesis chalk paint, which she used on this project. She’s a retailer for this brand because of its great coverage and range of colors. For this dresser she used Peppercorn, Gray Linen and Snow Owl. This understated palette really brought out the details while also being a bit neutral, so the piece will work with a variety of décor styles and color themes.

Shabby Nest Re-Do | Hazel & Verdie's

Shabby Nest Re-Do | Hazel & Verdie's

Shabby Nest Re-Do | Hazel & Verdie's

 

While Traci’s favored color palette has evolved over time from the white and pale pastels of “Shabby Chic” style to the brighter colors available in so many of the paint products these days, she has consistently loved vintage pieces from the beginning.

“I think I’m drawn to it because vintage has a story,” she said. “Sometimes pieces have been neglected and I just love bringing them back to life.”

Shabby Nest Re-do | Hazel & Verdie's

We’re thrilled with Traci’s results on this piece and we thank her for contributing to our success at The Picker Knows. You can purchase Wise Owl Synthesis chalk paints and supplies, and many of Traci’s fabulous pieces, in her booth #402 at The Picker Knows! You can also find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TraciTheshabbynest/ !

 

February sales report

WeBooth Feb 2017 | Hazel & Verdie's were both pretty surprised at our February results in the booth: it was a short month with only 28 days and it turned out to be our best-ever month, with gross sales at 3-1/2 times our rent!

We are beyond thrilled with this result. We even surpassed last December’s sales!

We both feel that the switch to furniture has been the key. We seem to have found a nice little niche selling project pieces to the painters and restylers out there, and we do manage to get some “steals” at great prices so we can make some great bargain deals.

We also know our mall managers do a lot of outreach on social media, and in February they promoted the opening of a “general store” featuring Iowa gifts within the mall. All of this plus the unseasonably mild weather all month long brought in the shoppers, along with our own efforts to drive traffic to our booth via social media and other tools.

We’re now in the process of putting in items for Spring, so that means garden junk, a fresh batch of vintage architectural salvage, and light/bright colored smalls. We’re also removing a bunch of smalls that have been there awhile.

New for Spring 2017 | Hazel & Verdie's

And with our February paycheck, we’ll of course be heading out on a picking spree for more great vintage furniture!

Furniture flip round-up

We are just finishing up another strong month in the booth. It was a month in which we sold 12 pieces of furniture. We have a very loose pricing formula but it doesn’t always pan out – whether we get our asking price depends of course on what we paid for a piece, because that directly affects the asking price. Pay too much, and we have to ask too much… and one thing we’ve learned particularly in the last couple of months is that it’s easy to pay too much. “All the money,” as they say. That said, overall we’ve done well and of course are still learning what pieces will sell and which styles or types have run their course in the market. So, I thought I would just share a few of the pieces that have sold most recently.

This gate leg table had already been painted, but apparently the owner just didn’t love it. We acquired it for a great price and sold it to another painter.

Gate leg table | Hazel & Verdie's
This great dresser had a broken drawer when we bought it, so we got a good deal. We fixed the drawer, and a young couple bought it to turn it into a changing table for their baby-on-the-way.

Three drawer dresser | Hazel & Verdie's

The young man who sold us this gray dresser said that his grandfather had built it, along with a small side table that we also purchased. I love this piece because the design with the six narrow drawers is so unique. We bought it for a great price so we could sell it for a great price, and it didn’t last more than a couple days in the booth. (Fun side note: I was too short to see into the top drawer. LOL)

Gray dresser | Hazel & Verdie's
This dresser was a piece we found on a trip to Omaha back in January. I have never seen another one like it. The arched top is really different, as are the vertical drawer pulls. To me, the piece had a “Beauty and the Beast” vibe. I could imagine it being restyled as a child’s dress-up armoire.

Arch top dresser | Hazel & Verdie's

 

We tried a number of price points on this ornate gentleman’s dresser, and finally hit the right one that still gave us a bit of margin on it and made the buyer very happy. “You don’t know how long I’ve been stalking this piece in your booth,” she told me! She’s a very talented painter – I can’t wait to see how it comes out!

Gentleman's Dresser | Hazel & Verdie's

We’re in the process of filling the booth now with some items appropriate for Spring… a couple of wooden outdoor benches, some trellis sections… stuff like that… and in addition to the pieces above we also sold several smaller furniture pieces such as side tables and wooden chairs. But we are still going full steam ahead with furniture and will be taking another road trip soon. Hoping for another strong month in March!