If you are like me and have day-dreamed for years about having your own vintage or second-hand retail shop, you might find the thought of having “just a booth” to be a bit of a let-down. But there are a number of advantages of having “just a booth” and it all has to do with the ability to test the waters without risking your primary means of financial support. Meaning, having a booth is a way to discover whether the vintage and antique business is something you love , or just a passing fancy, without starving to death as you learn.
Here are the primary advantages that I see in operating a booth, whether or not you ever decide to open an independent shop.
It’s less financial obligation. With a booth in the mall I’m currently in, I owe three things: rent, sales commission, and credit/debit card fees. That’s it. The mall owners are responsible for all utilities, sales tax, staff wages and benefits, marketing, building maintenance, and all other expenses. My booth rent, rounded, is $250 per month. If I had a shop, my rent would be three to four times that amount (or more), and I would be responsible for all the other expenses as well.
In the right kind of mall, you don’t have to be there to make sales. While it’s true that in some malls, the dealer is required to make their own sales within their individual booth, I’m in a mall that provides the staff. The booth rent is higher, but it works for me (and many others) because I simply could not put in the same number of hours as mall staff.
You don’t have to hassle with taxes. Because the mall I’m in has one primary sales counter that they staff with their own employees, they collect and submit all sales taxes. They also handle all payroll taxes and other taxes. This is huge for me because in general, I hate taxes and more specifically, I’m a terrible bookkeeper.
If I didn’t want to, I wouldn’t have to lift a finger to help drive traffic to my booth – a good mall handles advertising and marketing on behalf of their dealers. Fact is, though, I do a lot of things to help drive traffic both to my booth and to the store in general, for the sake of my own sales and for everyone in the mall.
It’s frequently said that the only ones who make money in an antique mall are the mall owners. After all, if their spaces are rented, they are guaranteed a minimum amount of income each month with rent, sales commissions and fixed fees. For some dealers, the perception is that they “give away” to the mall owners everything they sell right up until the moment when all rent and fees are paid for the month.
But the fact remains, operating costs are a lot less with a booth than they are with owning a stand-alone shop. The convenience of having a shop without having the responsibility of a whole shop is worth a lot. And the opportunity to learn the business – to learn what sells (and what doesn’t), how to market, how to price, how to stage and display, where and how to acquire inventory… all without risking your life savings and your ability to sleep at night… is really priceless.
None of this is to say that I won’t someday still have a stand-alone shop. But I consider myself to be still in the experimental phase right now, and this approach is perfect for now.