I gave a quick tour last week of my retail home, Antique Company Mall in McKinney, Texas. I hope you all enjoyed the “eye candy” pictures of just a few of the fantastic dealers there. If you missed the tour, you can click here.
I also promised a few tips and thoughts for becoming an antique dealer. I have been renting booth spaces on and off for 6 years now, and have held my space at ACM for the past 2 years. I don’t claim to be an expert on the life and business of an antique dealer, but I have learned many things through my experience that I think would be helpful to share. So I’ve compiled a list of questions to consider if you are an aspiring antique mall dealer.
I started my first small booth space with an investment of $150, which covered my first month’s rent and a small amount of inventory. I was able to supplement my initial inventory with lots of things I had stored around my home.
Within two months, I had enough sales to get back my initial investment, and enough sales from then out to cover my $60 rent each month and have a little extra to buy more inventory. When I had excess at the end of the month, I put it into savings.
After a year I had $500 saved. When I moved into my larger spot downstairs, all of that $500 went into my first month’s rent and more inventory for my much larger space. My rent increased more than 4 fold, and so the amount of money it took to run the space also increased drastically.
Thankfully, to date I have always had high enough sales to pay each month’s rent and set a little back. Some months there is alot more after rent and buying more inventory, some months there’s very little.
My point is this–becoming and antique dealer and starting a booth takes $$, and the larger the space, the greater the investment. My initial $150 investment was money I had saved in the bank, not from a loan or put on a credit card. I would highly recommend that you avoid going into any sort of debt to start this business.
If you don’t have much capital saved, then start with a very small space. As you bank more money, you can consider moving to a larger space once you have more investment capital. Starting out with a debt to pay off will quickly rob you of any joy in the business. If considering renting a space, begin setting back some inventory and investment money now so that you can start your business debt-free.
My time investment in my booth space changes each week, anywhere from 1-2 hours to 12-15. My time is spent on cleaning, prepping, and tagging my inventory, going to estate and garage sales, my furniture refinishing projects, and arranging my inventory in my space. I also go to 2 regular flea markets each month, one of which is an all-day event.
If you are like me and have young children at home, you need to take into account how much they are capable of coming along and doing with you. My kids can do garage sales with me, but most estate sales ask that you not bring children.
I love my kids dearly, but, well . . . they’re kids, and they really don’t do well going up to the mall with me to arrange my inventory. Your children may be different than mine, but I can’t concentrate on thoughtfully displaying my products when my 3 are throwing cheerios on the floor and trying to “see” every breakable item around them.
So if you’re considering becoming an antique dealer, it’s good to consider if you have time available, without your children, during the days to do your booth arranging work.
Also, is there enough other time in your week to do the legwork of hunting for and preparing your inventory?
Speaking of that inventory . . . that’s my #3.
Becoming an antique dealer means different things to different people. There is no shortage of things we would call “antique.” So you’ll have to narrow it down a little.
- What do you want to sell?
- High-end antique furnishings? Or rusty junk?
- Just furniture? Or no furniture?
What you want to sell factors in to where you decide to rent. Selling high-end antiques require a high-end mall. I am more of a “Vin-tiques” seller, so my items do well in my mid-range mall that houses lots of decorative dealers.
What you want to sell factors in to where you decide to rent.
If you are planning on selling only furniture, I would say an antique booth may not be the right space for you. Furniture sells, but not at an aggressive rate. I typically sell 1-2 pieces a month.
If you only sell furniture, I would estimate you would need to sell 3-4 pieces a month to cover your rent and costs for an average space. Ask yourself, can you produce that much furniture each month? I supplement my furniture sales with a steady diet of “smalls” . . .
like sterling-plate silver, and my book bundles . . .
small art and decorative containers,
along with plates, mirrors, and vintage tins.
In my experience, success in an antique mall booth requires stocking a wide range of items. If you only want to sell furniture, consider other options, like Etsy, Facebook groups, or Craigslist. They may be a better, more profitable, fit.
Becoming an antique dealer means there will be a lot of junk being hauled around, so having a vehicle with large carrying capacity is a must.
If you have a very small space, you can get away with a smaller car, maybe borrowing the occasional truck from a friend. If you have a larger space though, a truck, trailer, or at least van is absolutely necessary.
Until recently, I have done all my hauling in our minivan. It can hold quite a bit, but it requires me taking out the kids’ carseats and laying down or removing all of the back seats.
It’s quite a pain, and I was getting our family car really dirty. So, we invested in a work truck specifically for this business.
Think through your available vehicles, will they withstand the amount of hauling you are about to attempt? Are you in a position to purchase a more suitable vehicle, remember, without going into debt?
I hope I gave you enough information there to chew on . . . Like I said in my earlier post, becoming an antique dealer can be a great business, but it’s not for everyone. I would be happy to think through any of this with you if you are considering taking the plunge. Just contact me via the comments or Melanie@LostandFoundDecor.com.
I wanted to thank everyone who stopped by to see the reveal of my French Chair Makeover.
The post has been an incredible success and a great source of new visitors to Lost & Found. Thank you to all of you who shared it on FB, pinned it, and passed it along to other blog friends. More great makeovers will continue on Lost & Found, please stop back by!