What I Learned About Selling in a Booth

What I learned about selling in a booth…and the bottom line…is it right for you?

 

I was in the antique booth business for only 4 years, but it was long enough to figure out whether it was a right fit for me. What did I learn? It took over my life!!!

 

Excitedly I jumped in with both feet figuring I would have no trouble keeping a booth filled up. After all, it was just a continuation of the vintage items I was selling online, right?? Not exactly.

 

What I Learned About Selling in a Booth:

 

Inventory needs to turn over regularly. Ideally visit your booth once or twice a week to poof, fluff, and rearrange.

 

Do you have a flair for display to make things look attractive? (My weakest area). Here’s my first booth. I was so proud!

 

what I learned about selling in a booth
My First Booth

 

Do you have big display pieces (chests , bookcases and shelving) available to display wares at eye level? This is very important. Eye level, eye level, EYE LEVEL was preached to me constantly by the mall owner! But see in the photo above? Too much landed on the floor because I didn’t have enough big display pieces!

 

Set aside every weekend for yard sales and estate sales, with visits to thrift stores during the week. This is the fun part, but the downside…there’s tons of competition!

 

Keep a running list of what you take to your booth, what has sold, and what you’ve removed. I learned the hard way that I couldn’t trust the shop owner to keep up with that for me.

 

Dealing in furniture and other big ticket items helps the bottom line, but smalls are your bread and butter. These little items (mismatched jewelry pieces) sold well bringing a profit.

 

what I learned about selling in a booth

 

I was only asking 50¢ each for them…cheap…but it adds up quickly.

 

Do you have help to haul furniture to your booth? This is a biggie! Do you have a vehicle to do the hauling? We managed with a small SUV, but a truck would have been great.

 

You will be spending lots of time repairing, painting, and/or repurposing furniture and other items to take to your booth. YES, it takes over your life!

 

Do you have a stock of items to decorate your booth around the major holidays? I tend to sell everything, so am left with nothing to decorate with.

 

Be aware of what your commissions, credit card fees, and rent amounts are. Rent is a huge chunk of change! The first big item I sold was a large desk. I might as well have handed my entire “profit” to the mall owner in rent!

 

Consider having insurance for theft losses. We learned there was a kleptomaniac living in the neighborhood, and things displayed outside began disappearing…even when the owner got security cameras! You know how you think it’s not going to happen to you?? It did.

 

Do you have a stock of paint on hand for fixing up your pieces? Paint and supplies are expensive.

 

Do you have cleverly repurposed items to stand out from the competition? These tend to fly out the door if priced right!

 

Be prepared to weather the slow months when nothing is selling.

 

Promote on social media, especially Facebook! It helps get people to the shop by posting what you have for sale. When I started out, I was totally clueless. I had no idea what I was supposed to do to promote!

 

For an excellent post on selling in a booth, check out Melanie at Lostandfounddecor.com

 

Have I mentioned that a booth takes over your life?? There are days you don’t have time or feel like going to the booth or working on projects. I worked all the time, even on Sundays, which didn’t set well with my husband or me. Little time was left over for other pursuits. I miss it, but barely had time to glance at my Etsy/Ebay shop, much less create a listing! Maybe some can, but I couldn’t do both.

 

Booth dwellers out there, what are your thoughts and experiences?

 

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what I learned about selling in a booth

 

44 comments on What I Learned About Selling in a Booth

  1. Great article! I have shared it for other booth owners. I have been in business for 18 years. You have to really LOVE it to do it.

    1. I totally agree Donna, and I can tell you do love it. Wow, that’s a long time to be in that business! I miss it some & toy with the idea of going back just because I have so much JUNK! I may do it yet…still thinking it over…

  2. Florence, I’m on a waiting list at a local flea market but maybe it’s a good thing I’m still on it. I don’t think I could handle such a time consuming endeavor right now. I still haven’t given up on it but perhaps the timing has to be right for a booth. Anyway, this was a fantastic article and I’m so glad you shared this!! It’s given me a lot to consider.

  3. Great post Florence! I’ve toyed with the idea for ages, but I know I’d never have the time to put into it right now to be successful. Plus there’s way too much competition at the local flea market with one vendor really cornering the market with a huge portion all to herself. Maybe someday I’ll give it a go though. I’ve always wanted to try it.

    1. Thanks Tuula! It is fun having a booth, but I found it to be so much work. It just got to where I couldn’t do what I really loved, which was my Etsy shop. Well, I really loved both, but had to give one up. Yes I found it to be a lot of competition at yard sales, estate sales, & thrift stores with seemingly everyone doing the same thing.

  4. Florence that was an eye opener. I had no idea so much was involved in running a booth. I have never thought about it but I have shopped in booths in the past. That takes so much dedication and work.

      1. I’ve never seen any. They have outdoor farmers markets and sometimes they will sell knick nacks. Also there is one huge market in Athens but it is really overpriced. Florence, I really do live in the Boondocks!! 😉

  5. Florence you hit the nail on the head. It is getting very competive in my area as well. And then when you add a blog to it you really don’t have much time for anything else. We love it though or else we wouldn’t be doing it.

  6. You got the whole booth thing covered. I really didn’t know what I was getting into. At first I went all the time and sales were great but have fallen off over time. The mall has new owners and I don’t really like some of the things they are doing. I am going to stay through year end then decide for sure if I am going to continue but right now I’m leaning toward closing it.

    1. Sharon, you will know what you need to do. I totally didn’t know what I was getting into either. I liked some parts of it. I don’t see how you have time to blog and do a booth too!

  7. Your post is really helpful in the way that how to display and restore the items. Yeah I agree with you that as doing business, we must follow and take care of the products. I am going to share your post on my facebook. Thanks for your sharing,

  8. I love visiting all the flea markets and antique booths in South Africa but never thought about how much is actually involved. I have always had huge respect for what you do and all the beautiful things you find Florence, but now I’m just in awe and you have such an amazing blog too. Wow, how do you do it?

  9. Florence, I thought about this in the past, but was worried about the time commitment. The booths here are only about 3 foot wide and they are shelving units built in. You couldn’t display much so I decided not to do it. I can’t imagine the time you put into this! Really a huge job, I think that it wasn’t for me, thanks for the post. It will be in my mind if I think about it again in the future!

  10. This tip is really helpful for all who want to run a business in form of selling in a booth like you, and of course, I am one of them. But it is truly not simple! still need much of patience and attempt! … I haven’t thought that I can have one just by myself. But after reading your sharing, it seems I have known what is the key I need to hold in order to run my small store. Thanks!

  11. I must say you have very interesting posts here. Your website should go viral.
    You need initial boost only. How to get it? Search for; Etorofer’s strategies

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