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.

 

 

Farmhouse step-back cabinet built with love

My sweet boyfriend Greg (if you are 54 years old do you still get to use the word “boyfriend”?)  spent many hours recently, building me a piece of furniture that I had been hoping to find at auction for a long time, but just could never get my hands on. It is a primitive-style farmhouse step-back cabinet: two-door enclosed base, with a three-shelf open hutch on top.

Greg hasn’t really built any furniture before, but because we had started to do some small refinishing projects for our booth pieces, we had acquired a radial arm saw and then a table saw. So one day he went to the garage and started building a couple of miniature “barn gates” made of cedar. When he first showed them to me, we talked about aging them and styling as decorative wall pieces to be sold in our antique booth. Then he started talking about maybe building a cabinet around them, and at that point I showed him the inspiration photo below for what I thought it could become.

step-back cabinet | Hazel and Verdie's
Photo found via Google Images

And so, without any plans and just working out of his head with his background in large-scale construction (and NOT – as he likes to claim – in finely detailed finishing work)… he built this:

step-back cabinet | Hazel and Verdie's

 

I mean, it’s perfect. So perfect I want to cry. It’s exactly what I was looking for, only better because it’s handmade. The cabinet stands about six feet tall and four feet wide. It’s made primarily out of rough-cut cedar fence pickets and pine two-by’s. The beautiful, naturally aged top on the base is reclaimed barn board.

step-back cabinet | Hazel and Verdie's

step-back cabinet | Hazel and Verdie's

The hutch is made of more cedar pickets, pine one- and two-by’s, and pine shelving.

step-back cabinet | Hazel and Verdie's

In finishing, we experimented with a wood-staining technique where you first paint the wood with black tea, and then vinegar steeped with steel wool to draw out an aged, silvery color. However, for reasons unknown, on this project the aged color was decidedly reddish/brownish/rustish. Here it is part-way through the staining process.

step-back cabinet | Hazel and Verdie's

step-back cabinet | Hazel and Verdie's

step-back cabinet | Hazel and Verdie's

Although it didn’t turn to the silvery color I was anticipating, it allowed me to paint the entire piece white with a dark, aged appearance underneath so that if I chose to manually distress it, the “aged” wood would show through.

Once the aging step was completed, I painted the entire thing in Glidden Premium interior paint in Nano White. It took an entire gallon, two coats overall and in some places, three. I left the barnwood unpainted. Greg then attached the top to the base and we moved the whole thing into place.

step-back cabinet | Hazel and Verdie's

step-back cabinet | Hazel and Verdie's

step-back cabinet | Hazel and Verdie's

I admit, I stayed up until about 3 a.m. fussing and styling with some of my favorite cottage pieces, many of which have been in hiding just waiting for this very piece of furniture.

step-back cabinet | Hazel and Verdie's

step-back cabinet | Hazel and Verdie's

step-back cabinet | Hazel and Verdie's

I can’t even begin to express how impressed and touched I am that this is what he chose to build, and that he seems to love it as much as I do. I’m pretty impressed with him, and I hope he is too!

step-back cabinet | Hazel and Verdie's

More soon,

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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!

Furniture re-do: nautical side table

Hey remember that post where I told you that I never paid more than ten dollars for a table at an auction, except for the time that I did? Well this is that table – and again, although I don’t have a before photo, you can imagine this being a plain honey-pine side table with details that could either be interpreted as ranch/western… or ship’s wheel/nautical, which is what I chose. Here’s what I did with the little pine table, as a gift for my daughter who loves all things beachy and nautical.

Painted a light baby blue using the Martha Stewart brand of chalk paint in Agave.

Nautical side table | Hazel and Verdie's

Nautical side table | Hazel and Verdie's

Seahorse and oceanic graphics applied using an inkjet transfer method. The quotation reads: “The Sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever. – Jacques Cousteau”

Nautical side table | Hazel and Verdie's

Nautical rope applied around the edge.

Nautical side table | Hazel and Verdie's

All ready for an umbrella drink!

Nautical side table | Hazel and Verdie's

I hand-painted a directional “beach” sign to go with this piece that also featured a bit of rope and some shells. Shortly after she received these items, my daughter relocated to Florida for six months to take part in the Disney College Program, where she worked at the Magic Kingdom, visited the beach many times, and even learned to surf. I’m pretty certain she’ll be going back some day.

More soon,

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Repurpose a small wooden cable spool into a coffee station

Recently at work our maintenance team gifted me with a small empty wooden cable or wire spool. (Do they know me or what!?)

Cable Spool Coffee Station | Hazel & Verdie

I had seen so many examples of the larger spools being repurposed into tables, and I knew there must be a  use for this size too. A quick review of Pinterest yielded  several good ideas, but my favorite was the creation of a counterop coffee station. It seemed simple enough, and after some planning I decided my coffee station needed to meet the following criteria:

  • Be as compact as possible to save countertop space.
  • Spin for easy access to all the cups.
  • Decoratively corral supplies on top so they would not “fly off” while spinning.
  • Have a “vintage cottage kitchen” look.

Here are the steps I used to complete my coffee station!

I removed the two full-length bolts that held the cardboard center tube in place, and retained those for a future project. I pulled the tube loose easily from the top and bottom wooden pieces.

Cable Spool Coffee Station | Hazel & Verdie

Cable Spool Coffee Station | Hazel & Verdie

Using spray adhesive, I wrapped the tube in a carefully measured and cut piece of textured wallpaper that I had on hand.

Cable Spool Coffee Station | Hazel & Verdie

Cable Spool Coffee Station | Hazel & Verdie

You could also paint the center tube, cover it in Contact paper, wrap it in nautical-style rope, or even wrap it in a mosaic tile sheet finished with grout – whatever suits the look you’re going for. I trimmed the excess off the ends so the paper was flush with the cardboard tube.

I sanded both sides of each of the wood pieces, and painted both pieces top and bottom with three coats of leftover white paint.

Cable Spool Coffee Station | Hazel & Verdie

I used my E-6000 glue to attach a spinning spice rack to the underside of the bottom piece of wood. Mine was already white – you might have to paint yours depending on what color you need it to be.

Cable Spool Coffee Station | Hazel & Verdie

I attached white screw-in cup hooks to the underside of the wooden top, using my trusty “eyeball-it” method and a stand-in stunt mug to figure out the spacing of the hooks.

Cable Spool Coffee Station | Hazel & Verdie

The key here is to make sure the cups don’t touch or clink together, so be sure to use your largest cup as your stunt mug. I set my hooks far enough in so the cups would hang under the top edge, as this would save space. I also had to experiment with a variety of hook sizes so that the hook would fit my cup handles but not drop the cup so far down that it touched the wood base. (I now have a lifetime supply of cup hooks of varying sizes and finishes that were used in testing!)

The top also needed to corral supplies such as sugar and creamer packets. For this purpose I attached a decorative basket to the flat surface of the top, using small dots of hot glue around the perimeter of the basket bottom. This could also be a small wooden box painted to match, a small bin, or any small container that fits the surface and your design theme.

Cable Spool Coffee Station | Hazel & Verdie

With the individual sections now complete, I used my E-6000 glue to re-attach the center tube to the wooden top and bottom sections. I used books as weights to hold everything solidly in place as it dried.

Cable Spool Coffee Station | Hazel & Verdie

Cable Spool Coffee Station | Hazel & Verdie

Once it was dry, I simply stocked my coffee station with mugs, coffee, and other supplies. It sits neatly under the kitchen cabinetry and keeps everything within easy reach.

Cable Spool Coffee Station | Hazel & Verdie

Cable Spool Coffee Station | Hazel & Verdie

This piece could also be used for tea or hot cocoa supplies – customize for your beverage of choice!

 

Cable Spool Coffee Station | Hazel & Verdie

Cable Spool Coffee Station | Hazel & Verdie

Cable Spool Coffee Station | Hazel & Verdie

I’ll be sharing my repurposed wooden spool coffee station at these fun DIY parties. I’ll post direct links to the parties soon!

DIY Salvaged Junk Projects (Funky Junk Interiors)
Inspire Me Tuesday (A Stroll Thru Life)
Metamorphosis Monday (Between Naps on the Porch)

More soon,

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