Category: Antique Booth Adventures

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!

 

Advantages of having a booth instead of a shop

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.

Just a booth | Hazel & Verdie's

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.

 

 

How we launched an email newsletter

Last year when we made the decision to refocus our inventory on vintage furniture, we wanted to become a go-to source for those in our area who paint and restyle those pieces. We’ve had some good feedback from this group on the mix of pieces in our booth, and we also sell some pieces online through the various buy and sell apps. We’ve had buyers say things like, “I’ll be looking for you on Letgo,” understanding that it might be kind of hit or miss for someone hoping to find our pieces.

Newsletter banner | Hazel & VerdieSo with that in mind, we decided to venture into e-mail marketing, and launch a newsletter for our painter friends to keep them informed about new items in our inventory. I want them to know about what’s in our booth, but also about what we have waiting to go in to the booth. (Because if we can sell a dresser without having to actually move it into the booth? Win-win!)

I started with a trip up to The Picker Knows, where I collected business cards from the booths of anyone selling painted furniture. I also looked up a few folks whose pages I’ve liked on Facebook, and a few buyers I had connected with on the buy-sell apps.
I compiled all the email addresses from these sources, contacted them individually to introduce (or re-introduce) myself and my newsletter concept, and asked if they would like to be included on my list of recipients. Out of 16 invitations, only two have not yet responded, and all others requested to be added to the list.

For the first issue, I made a list of the pieces I thought would be of most interest to painters, took some pictures of those pieces, and compiled their “quick stats” – price, condition, and how to purchase.

newsletter content | Hazel & VerdieI won’t go into a whole how-to on using the email software (I chose Constant Contact, which I love), but suffice to say it’s simple enough because it’s template-based, and I had no trouble compiling and sending my first issue. The software also tracks how many (and which) people opened the email and/or clicked on any of its links, and offers them an automated way to unsubscribe if they wish. (You can do a 60-day free trial with Constant Contact, then purchase a subscription after that. If you choose to do so, please email me first and I’ll send you an invite. If you end up subscribing to it, we’ll both get a $30 credit!)

Our first issue went out a few days ago, and we’ve sold one of the listed pieces. I haven’t figured out yet if it sold to a newsletter recipient, I plan to continue with the newsletter for awhile and hope to also grow the subscriber list. If you are local to the Des Moines, Iowa area and would like to be notified about our paintable inventory, please send me an email and I’ll add you to the list!

Antique booth sales are brisk

We had our best month ever in December at The Picker Knows, with sales at almost quadruple our rent. This gave us enough money to re-stock for the beginning of tax refund season (people do spend their refunds on “nice-to-haves,” like antique furniture… right?). We also started off strong in January, selling two more pieces and meeting our January rent obligation early in the month. The rest of January has been a little slower, but we are still on track to sell triple the rent, so that too will be a strong month.

The picking trip was fun – we decided to do an overnight trip to the Omaha/Lincoln area, so we spent some time leading up to it looking online for pieces we might acquire in that area. So by the time we arrived on Friday night, all we had to do was call the people whose pieces interested us, and set up appointments to go and take a look.

Vintage dresser | Hazel & Verdie's

Vintage dresser | Hazel & Verdie's

This strategy worked well and by 1 pm Saturday we had a van full of vintage furniture pieces. We stopped at a rather interesting indoor flea market that had a large variety of new and vintage items, and we also stopped at a small independent antique shop while in Omaha. Found bargains at both of these places, crammed them into our already-packed van, and headed home, arriving back in Des Moines around 5 pm Saturday.

Vintage dresser | Hazel & Verdie's

PK is good about calling us whenever a piece of furniture leaves the booth – this lets us know that our booth has a big open space in it, and of course we always want to look full. So we like to have a few pieces in storage at the house that we can take over right away when something sells. (It’s a balancing act – we’d get a bigger booth but we don’t want to be on the hook for additional rent, especially because the rental rates are going up soon. So we store as much as we can at home, and take one or two pieces at a time up to the shop as needed.)

Vintage dresser | Hazel & Verdie's

Fingers crossed for a strong weekend to cap off January!

More soon,
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Furniture Flip Round-Up

One of the best decisions we’ve made so far in our antiques and vintage business is that we have evolved our inventory to focus on furniture. Painting furniture with all manner of chalk, milk, mud, and mineral paint is “a thing” right now, and there are so many wonderful pieces out there getting a second chance because of the talented folks taking up the paintbrushes. We have had very good luck identifying and acquiring the kinds of pieces they seem to want to paint.

We also have seen a trend in folks who are looking for affordably priced “mid-century” furniture – primarily from the 50’s and 60’s (you know, like that set my parents had in their bedroom that I sent to the Goodwill long before I got into this business). These folks don’t necessarily intend to paint their pieces; they just love the aesthetic and don’t want to spend a fortune.

We’ve sold so many pieces there’s no way you’d want to sit through a slide show of them all. But, here is just a sampling of some of the pieces that have run through our hands in the past few months. Most we simply repaired as needed and then passed along to the next person for restoration, refinishing, or painting. A few, we completed a simple refinish before passing it on.

Tables

Duncan Phyfe-style drum table with drawer

drumtable | Hazel and Verdie's

Jacobean Revival dining table

Jacobean table | Hazel and Verdie's

Duncan Phyfe-style drop leaf table with brass claw feet

Phyfe-style table | Hazel and Verdie's


Desks and Vanities

Ornate desk/vanity with missing leg

Ornate desk | Hazel and Verdie's

Craft desk with leaf and slide-out

Craft desk with extension | Hazel and Verdie's

Vanity with round mirror

1940's vanity | Hazel and Verdie's

Spiegel Secretary desk

Spiegel Secretary Desk | Hazel and Verdie's


Dressers

Mid-century lowboy dresser

Mid-century lowboy dresser | Hazel and Verdie's

Ornate chest of drawers

Ornate chest of drawers | Hazel and Verdie's

Maple clawfoot dresser

Maple clawfoot dresser | Hazel and Verdie's
Just thought you’d like to see the kinds of pieces we are finding – the adventure continues, as we just had our best month ever in the booth at The Picker Knows focusing on pieces like the ones above.

More soon,

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