If you’re a booth seller and you’re ready to take your antique booth from hobby to business, then this article is just for you.
When I started Lost & Found over 7 years ago, it was really more of a hobby than a business.
Sure, I was hoping to make a little money selling things out of my antique booth space, but other than that, I had no real business plan.
Honestly at the time, I think my main goal was to just have fun and enjoy finding unique things to turn around and sell.
So I went into those first few months at my small booth space just winging it!
I watched other successful dealers closely, paid attention to what did and didn’t sell, and tried to read all the tips I could find online (which wasn’t a lot!)
Pretty soon into that first year’s lease though, I learned that this whole booth thing really did have potential to make some profit!
I wanted to make the most of my space and maximize what it could put into my pocket, so I started trying to be more strategic and “think” like a business person, rather than a hobbyist.
What followed was several more years of self-taught learning . . . Having no real official “business” training, it took me awhile to figure out some of the most basic business skills.
I made some mistakes along the way, but with each passing season, I tried to learn more and act better.
And after a few years, it paid off!
Learning to think like a business person made all the difference!
I was blessed with being able to run not only one, but two profitable booth spaces over the past 7 years, and I want to pass along a bit of what I learned with you today.
Here are 4 steps you can take to start you on your way!
1. Get Serious About your Location
The right location can make or break your booth business!
Many new booth sellers think that as long as their own particular booth looks great and is filled with awesome finds, they will be ok in a less-than-stellar location, but that’s just not true.
A bad mall will bring down a good booth, every time.
I’ve seen many new dealers get caught in the trap of thinking cheap rent is a good business decision, only to find out that their malls are not attracting the right kind of customers or have poor foot traffic–which adds up to low sales for those dealers.
A business person knows that the right location is key to the success of their business!
So if you’re in a not-so-great mall, it’s time to make the choice to leave for a better spot.
That may mean you have to sit on a waiting list for awhile, or that your rent may increase, or that you may have to even drive a bit farther.
But those are business decisions that need to be made. I promise–you won’t regret any of those sacrifices once your booth starts to take off in a better location!
2. Create a Brand and Stick With It
I see it all the time . . . booths that look basically like recycled garage sales.
There’s no rhyme or reason as to what is for sale, and it’s all piled on the floor and stacked on shelves with no thought to theme or display.
If your booth sells everything, then customers will remember you for nothing.
You have to have something about your booth and your inventory that pulls it all together for your customer.
Some ideas are:
- A color scheme (all white or all bold colors)
- Decorating style (Farmhouse? MCM?)
- Consistent Inventory (the booth that always has ironstone/chalkboards/windows/whatever!)
- Focused Collection (the Pyrex booth, the vintage toy booth, etc)
The point is that you need to give your customers something to grab onto when they are in your space.
Something about your booth needs to stand out in their mind, and they need to be able to quickly associate your booth with some style or item or color.
This means you will need to edit your inventory to fit your brand.
Not everything you find needs to get tossed into your space! It takes a bit more thought and planning when you shop for your items, but the payoff is a booth that customers will remember and recommend to their friends.
3. Stage your Inventory,
Don’t Just Display It
Once you’ve nailed down your brand, you need to think about how you are showing off the great finds you have in your space.
And here it’s very important to remember that you don’t want to make your customer think too hard about how to use what you have for sale!
For example–you may know that the old, turquoise, rusty tool box you just found at the estate sale would make an awesome garden party centerpiece (fill it with flowers, napkins, and utensils, and it would be adorable!)
But your customer probably doesn’t have that same vision!
When they see the tool box sitting on the shelf or floor in your booth, all they may see is a dirty piece of metal.
As a flea market digger, you likely have some natural decorating instincts–that’s part of why you love having a booth! But, many of our customers don’t necessarily have that same instinct.
They need to be clearly shown how to use and repurpose your awesome finds, not just that you have them available for sale.
Just like creating a brand and sticking to it, staging your items well will take you a bit more time than if you just drop them on a shelf.
But I’m confident you will see an increase in your sales if you take the few extra minutes to “think” for your customers by making sure your items are thoughtfully displayed.
4. Develop a Marketing Plan
A marketing plan? What? For a booth space?
You’re not serious Melanie, are you?
You bet I am!
Remember when I said we were going to stop thinking like a hobbyist and start thinking like a business owner?
Well, a business owner understands that having great stuff to sell is only half of the business plan, the other half is marketing it to the right customer.
There are several really easy and inexpensive ways you can market your business as a booth owner:
- Signage with a professional logo hanging in your space
- Business cards available in your space
- SOCIAL MEDIA!
- Even a basic website!
Let me harp on social media for just a second–if you don’t have a Facebook page or Business Instagram Account for your booth business, stop reading this article and go set one up right now!
With the internet, we small business owners have the amazing ability to connect directly with potential customers, an opportunity that didn’t exist 10 years ago!
I can assure you, there are people in your city, town, or area, right now, who are looking for the types of things you have to sell.
The problem is, they don’t know your booth exists! They may not even know your mall exists!
Marketing your booth helps bridge that gap.
It’s not enough to just wait for the customers to find you, you need to go find them and make sure that everyone has a way to connect with your business even if they never step foot into the door of your mall.
I know this may seem complicated, so let me give you a few basic first steps.
- Get a business name and start using it when you talk about your booth. Don’t call it “my booth”, in conversation . . . make it sound professional by calling it your distinctive business name.
- Create social media accounts (at the least a business FB page) with that name and start sharing photos of what you have for sale in your booth.
- Keep business cards with your biz name on them with you at all times. Pass them out anytime you start chatting about what you do. Be sure to also include on your business card your social media accounts so people can go home and look you up.
- Once you’ve started, commit to learning how to do social media better (hint–I can help you!). Don’t worry about understanding it all perfectly before you start, just get started! But once it’s going, learn how to use your social media to create an audience of fans who will advertise your business for you by sharing with their friends!
So . . . are you ready to go from hobby to business?
These 4 steps are a great place to start!
If you want go even further though, I hope you join us for this session of my Booth Seller Bootcamp 🙂
In this 4-week online video course, we dive deeper into each of these topics and really explore what it looks like to transform your hobby into a profitable business that will bless your family.
Remember all those years of teaching myself how to run a business?
Well, in this course I pass along everything I’ve learned, so that you can fast-forward in your business and bypass all of those years of trial and error. My heart is to help you succeed!
Registration for the course opens on February 13th. The best way to stay in the loop is to join the waiting list here.
Don’t worry–joining the waiting list is free and doesn’t obligate you to actually jump into the course 🙂
It does mean though that we will remind you when doors to the course open, because we all know life is busy and it’s easy to miss things!
If you have found this helpful, please pass it along! And I hope to see you in Bootcamp!