If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I gave my official 30-day notice at the antique mall last week and will be closing up shop in mid-February. The truth is, I had higher hopes for the booth and the antique mall as a whole, but it just doesn’t seem like the right fit for me. I opened it, considering it an extension of my blog and as a fun hobby on the side, but my enthusiasm has fizzled—for several reasons. As a last resort, I even moved my booth to another spot in the middle of the building, but I think I was already over it by that point.
When I started the booth, I had high hopes of styling it in lots of different fun ways and going on all kinds of shopping excursions for new treasures. But, it’s hard to justify buying more when things aren’t selling all that quickly. I won’t blame it totally on the venue, but I’m not sure the shoppers who would love my finds are the same shoppers that are coming to the mall on a regular basis. Side note: My blog readers have been great supporters—thank you! I would say that for 95% of the things I sold, I would get an email from one of you afterwards telling me that you bought it. ;)
Okay, so a few thoughts/observations for those of you considering opening a booth:
- The right venue is key. The convenience of the antique mall being 10 minutes from my house was a huge draw. But, the overall style of the mall probably wasn’t a good fit for me.
- Talk to other vendors first. This will give you a good idea of the overall feel of the place where you’ll be. Most are happy to share their experience with the venue—and even their sales figures. . .
- Ask about the venue’s marketing plan. What are they doing to draw in more traffic? Are there special events? How do they advertise and utilize social media? Is there an application/screening process for new vendors?
I also wrote a 6-month update here, sharing more of my experience.
I had considered an Etsy shop, but I just don’t think I have the time to get into the shipping business at this point. . . So, for now, I’m taking the last of my loot up to the booth—and pricing it really well. I’ve sold most of the furniture, but there are still several small things, in case you have time to visit before Feb.16th. (As I mentioned earlier, I’m now on the main floor. Just ask at the front desk, and they’ll point you in the right direction.)
Claire Bingham says
A neighbor and I went there several weeks ago to find your booth and we agree with your observation- not much else fit your style- you are more in the decorator business, not the antique business.
I was wondering if a booth in Blacklion or Sleepy Poet Stuff would make more sense? I know that they’re a drive from where you live, but they seem to cater to your kind of shopper.
Just my 2 cents….I love pretty much everything you do so no bias here or anything :) :)
Emily Clark says
I’m sure I’d probably enjoy a booth at one of those places, but I just can’t justify making the drive once a week–or even every two weeks… I feel like I already live in my car :) Thanks for visiting, anyway! Now, tell me when you’re coming to Belmont next time.
[email protected] says
Hi Emily. I had the same experience. Did it for four months to try a new venue that opened. Total waste of time for me. Every experience teaches something, though. I learned a bit, hope you did too.
Thank you for your candid observations. I am in a similar situation. When I first set up, things sold right away and it felt so good. For the last 10 out of 13 months though, I usually have to pay more than I make. That is tough to justify! Also, I wanted to style and rearrange but there hardly seems to be any point when things just aren’t moving. I wonder if it is not just your locale (and mine) but also shoppers in general. I know that I don’t shop like I used to. At this time of year, we all seem to be more interested in organizing (which leads to the realization that we have too much already). It is also easier to look on etsy and other sites for exactly what I’m looking for. I am a very specific shopper these days. I really like the guys that own the mall I’m in and they have phenomenal things there. I don’t want to let them down, but I think I’m ready to pack up, too. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts as I ponder this issue myself. Best of luck to you and I will continue to enjoy your blog!
Emily Clark says
Totally understand. I would’ve pulled out sooner if I hadn’t made my rent. (Fortunately, I did, but it still wasn’t FUN…) I think the size of the venue has a lot to do with it, too. So much stuff where I was; I sometimes wonder if the traffic could keep up. Good luck with your decision!
I toy with having a space to sell things I find but don’t buy because I have no room for them in my house, so appreciate your perspective on this. It’s funny, I’d love to run across a booth like yours in an antique mall. They seem otherwise too full of real oddities that I can’t purpose in my home.
If you do open an Etsy shop in the future, I’d be there!
I’ve had a similar experience in Maryland. I chose a venue that was adjacent to a very popular vintage furniture store but the traffic was disappointing and the results definitely didn’t justify the effort. So now my garage is full of pretty stuff until I devise my plan B. I’ve considered consignment, but the standard 70/30% split is just too painful. Best of luck to you.
I’m in Maryland. Whatcha got? :)
Hi Dawn- I’m in Salisbury, near the beach. Here’s a link to my “inventory.” I have a custom home dec sewing business and really just love transforming junk.
I am tucking you away for future reference. I love repurposed items. Thanks!
oh right now i wish you were up here in maryland so you could have a space in my shop, where you’d be a perfect fit!
I was thinking the same thing Cassie!
Where in Maryland? I’m in Salisbury, near the beach.
Pam, we are in Frederick, MD. Sweetcloverbarn.com ; if you are ever out this way come see us!!! :)
Emily Clark says
What fun that would be!
I had a similar experience in Arkansas with the same type booth that you have. The mall I was located in was in a heavy traffic area of town but not an area known to be an antique district. It is not fun when you try so hard and don’t get the results you expect. Myself and other vendors could never pinpoint exactly what customers are looking for. Your booth and your style is gorgeous and I enjoy following your blog!
Elizabeth @ The Little Black Door says
I’m so sorry Emily. But I applaud you for stopping something that wasn’t working for you. And with the knowledge you know have, I bet something even better will come along.
Thanks for sharing! I enjoyed following along with your booth journey and always loved seeing photos of your treasures. I even opened up a booth myself last year. I’m running into similar issues with traffic and am disappointed to also say I may be ready to call it quits. Unfortunately, in my area the types of booths that seem to be the most lucrative are the ones that travel from location to location for fairs, farmer’s markets, etc., but I just don’t have the ability to move from week to week.
Renea Sinisgalli says
Emily I had the same experience this past Fall. I suspected it wouldn’t be a perfect fit for me but thought I’d give it a shot. I should have listened to my gut. I couldn’t justify the monthly rent when I wasn’t making it back in sales. I’m strictly doing Craigslist until I find a different alternative. Felt good to take a risk though.
Hi Ladies my name is Terri I live in Louisburg and I have some of the same problems that you all are talking about. Renea there is also a sight I just found out about (offerup.com) they are pretty much like craigslist but I don’t think they have the kind of rep that craigslist have. look it up; may be somewhere you’ll like to list your items.
Wish I still lived in Huntersville, I would have visited your booth frequently (although my husband unknowingly is thankful we don’t
Every time I saw photo of the booth I wished I was local so I could buy your treasures. I understand not wanting to make the commitment to Etsy at this point, but again, I would BUY. Love the blog! :-)
Katie Butterfield says
Hi Emily! I know you said you don’t have the time to open an Etsy shop, but I too would buy from it if you did. The great thing about Etsy is there is very little commitment and almost no overhead ($.20 listing fee). It might be worth considering for the every once in a while that you have something to sell. Like you said, since most of your sales are from readers this would give you the opportunity to sell to those of us in different states. I like everything you do! Best wishes:)
Tina Matteson says
Emily, I opened a booth in a similar place here in east Texas in August, and enjoyed it immensely the first three months, and then it started costing me more money than it was bringing in. I closed it in December and haven’t looked back! It was a fun experience and I’m glad I did it. Now, on to other things!
Sarah O. says
OH, Emily. If you had an Etsy shop…I would be a frequent shopper! I am so very far away, and I would’ve loved to shop at your booth! Etsy is kind of easy, but yeah, shipping is a pain.
Good luck with whatever you decide!
I’ve had booths in 2 different locations with 2 different results. The 1st was about 20 min. South of me and I did terrible, then I took my same inventory and opened about 40 min north and am happy to say doing really well. I think the location and the mall itself make a big difference.
I love all the blue & white pottery that you have. Do you look for any markings on the bottom?
Emily Clark says
No–just buy what I like :)
Clever Girl Reviews says
It seemed like such a good idea. Is there a way to transfer it to an online venue?
I really love your site, your views and your beautiful photos. However, I will probably not be returning. It is IMPOSSIBLE to read your posts! The print is such a light shade of grey, is there something wrong with black.?
Good luck, Will really miss your site. Hope there are no miss spelled words, can barely read my own post.
Beth Barden says
I was JUST thinking today how I wanted to go up there. I really need a dark moody old painting- got anything like that? :)
Emily Clark says
Very little art left :(
You advice for selecting a booth is absolutely right. I was approached by several shops in my area but I knew the area wasn’t my market. Best of luck in your next adventure!
Emily Clark says
The dream would be to have a booth where you are :) I love the feel of Slate but it’s a bigger time commitment than I can manage right now.
(Still need to email you, btw! Just running behind.)
I love that you gave it a try and even though it didn’t work, I also appreciate your candid account of hte experience. If you ever do open an Etsy shop, I will definitely be a patron, so please keep us posted!
I have had booth space for about 4 years now… and honestly, things have changed. In the beginning, things were great and moving. Although sales always fluctuated, the first year or two brought much better sales than this past year. I am currently pondering giving my notice as well. I feel like resale/antique/flea type venues have popped up everywhere and just wonder if the market is too saturated.
At least you tried it and had some fun along the way! I love your style and can’t wait to see what you do next!
Emily Clark says
And, I found some fun things for our house :) But, yes, I agree, I wonder if it’s all just too much.
Jennifer @ Brave New Home says
It was really interesting following along your journey and I’m surprised so many other readers have similar type booths! Based on interest, I wonder if you might be able to find someone local to manage an Etsy shop on your behalf. From what you’ve told us, it seems you enjoyed breathing life to old pieces and treasure hunting. Perhaps you could find a way to focus on that and outsource the business side of it?
I agree with the others, if you opened a etsy shop, I would buy from it. When you have posted pictures of your booth, I often saw something I wanted but only local people could purchase it.
So…open a Etsy Shop already, what do you have to lose?
Emily Clark says
My time standing in a line at the post office :)
Kim Sims says
Hey Emily! I love reading your blog and admire the talent that you have. I had an Etsy shop for 4 years and it is a good way to sell your items with little overhead. If you do ever decide to open one, you can actually have your mail person pick up your items to ship out everyday free of cost just by going to their website. All you do it put your stuff on the front porch. I utilized that option a lot and it was great! Just thought I would pass on the information. :) But it is still time consuming so I completely understand your reluctance to go down that road. You do beautiful work so Etsy would be very lucky to have you! :)
Luann Combs says
Hello Emily, I opened a booth about 10 months ago. The best months were Oct, Nov, Dec,. I am closing it by the end of April. I love to paint furniture and do up-cycled home décor. I find that people are looking for garage sale prices, which is insane with all the work I put into each piece. I am selling my furniture and décor pieces for 50% off so I don’t have to store them or bring them home.
I am considering the possibility of just doing a three month stint from October through December with the kind of items that flew out the door during last year’s Christmas shopping season.
Thanks for the blog. Nice to read about your similar experiences.
Luann from Kennewick
Emily Clark says
I have to say, after a couple of months of being finished with it, I’m not missing it a bit. Good luck with whatever you decide!
lucinda calista says
I had a bad experience with an antique mall. Here are fifteen questions to ask before you open an antique mall booth:
I really hope this helps other potential vendors.
Emily, I found your blog by searching for ideas for an antique and collectible mall we’re starting in WA State. I like how you kept up with your experiences at the antique mall you rented space in. I have to agree with others that your style is more chic and modernistic than what we likely see around here at the few malls there are, yours is quite sophisticated. Do you working interior design? If not, I think it’s a natural fit for you. Real estate agents would be screaming for your talents in staging rooms and entire homes. I hope you’ve found your niche. Anyway, thank you for your design elegance, it is timeless.
I know you’ve been done with the booth for awhile but you have a true talent and I think it appeals to a wide variety of people. Hope you can find something to showcase your style! :-) I had a booth in a mall that was supposed to be popular near me and didn’t do well so got out pretty quickly. Took the same inventory and added to it at a different mall – a very high traffic and tourist area. Been there almost a year. The drive is an hour and 15 one way so now I bundle everything in one or 2 trips per week and never buy any furniture that doesn’t fit in my trunk. Sales have been $600 (worst) to $1,700 a month (without me advertising my Booth at all) and I concentrate now on mostly smalls – vintage mixed with traditional and prim home decor, a little Victorian also. So I can tell you it is totally worth it to drive if you plan it out! You have to be in the right market for your kind of people that like your style and in a high traffic area. Sometimes the venues close to home are just not profitable. Love your style and your Blog! :-)
Rhonda Cumpsty says
I’m in the process of closing my booth now. I have done it for about five years. A LOT of WORK. I am hoping someone will buy my inventory in total. My life circumstances have changed and I can’t work the booth like I used to. It also keeps my home cluttered I never made a lot of money. It was more of a hobby. Not many want old antique furniture or dishes anymore.