How to Pick the Right Price for Your Antique Booth Items

Sharing is caring!

If you’re a new antique booth owner, learning how to pick the right price for your antique booth items is one of the most important things to figure out. 

A solid pricing strategy is key to building a happy customer base and a sustainable profit for your pocket.

Follow along to learn how to set just the right price for the items you want to sell!

When I opened my first antique booth 12 years ago, I knew nothing about running a business. I just knew that I loved cool, old stuff, and I thought I could sell some of what I found as a way to make extra money.

When it came time to price the items I put in my booth, I asked myself, “What would I pay for this?”

That worked for a while, but then I felt I was underpricing my items.

I needed a better way to figure out how to price my items so I could really take my business to the next level. 

how to pick the right price for your antique booth items

What is an Antique Booth Business?

Before we dive deep into the pricing, let me clarify what I mean by an “antique booth” business, in case you’re new to this whole idea.

A popular business model is the “antique mall,” which is a large store subdivided into smaller size “booths.”  These smaller booths are rented out to individuals–often called “vendors”– who fill the space with their own inventory.

The mall collects payment for items and usually takes a percent commission from each sale. Then, they pay the vendors the balance of what is owed for the items sold.

While usually called “antique malls” and “antique booths,” these types of stores can be filled with a mix of items. Many places sell true antiques (items 100+ years old), others sell vintage items (20+ years old), and some even sell new clothing and decor items.

You may also hear these types of stores called flea markets, vintage malls, or vendor malls.

Whatever it’s called, the idea is the same–a collection of small vendors selling items inside a larger space.

Because each vendor booth is run independently, pricing all their inventory is the booth owner’s responsibility, and there is usually a lot of leeway given to how it’s done. 

RELATED POSTCan You Make Money Selling at an Antique Mall?

How Do I Know the Right Price for Items in my Antique Booth?

If you started your booth to make a profit, a good pricing strategy is key to your success.

Too often, booth owners price items too low to see any real consistent profit or too high and then rely on regular “Flash Sale!” signs to drive sales.

There is a sweet spot–both for your pocketbook and your customer base– that you need to hit.

Here are 4 things to consider when determining how to price items for your booth space. 

1. Profit Margin for Your Booth Space

A starting place for me is to price items at least 3 times what I paid for them, which roughly equals a 66% profit margin.

Now, that may sound high, but again, most antique malls will take a commission out of your sales, usually around 10%.

Booth rent also needs to be covered, which, depending on your booth size and how many items you’re moving monthly, could easily be another 5-10% of your profit.

Together, that 66% profit margin quickly drops to 45-50%. So $1000 of sales in your booth puts $450-$500 in your pocket. 

If you spend 50 hours working on your booth that month, that’s a wage of $10 an hour.

Are you starting to see why pricing your items with the right profit margin in mind is important? 

So many booth owners fail to consider the true cost of running their booth business, so they don’t price their items high enough to cover their costs and pay themselves an actual paycheck for the time spent shopping, pricing, loading, and displaying. 

That is why starting at a 3x’s markup or 66% profit margin is key.

You will likely pay yourself pennies an hour if you consistently drop below that.

I’m also speaking on an average here–there are some larger items I sell that I can’t quite reach that 3x’s markup, and others that I can markup much more than 3x’s. 

Also, wholesale items I purchase for my booth space naturally have smaller profit margins than found, picked items–usually 40- 50%.  That’s important to consider if you mix new wholesale items with your vintage.

If you consider that 3x the cost 66% profit margin a good baseline, you’re starting off at a healthy place.
 

2. Considering Your Customer Base When Pricing

Different malls attract different levels of customers—some attract higher-end shoppers, and others attract flea marketing types.

Add to that the cost of living differences between areas of the country, and the online Etsy price you found for your treasure may not be right for where you have your booth.

I always encourage the booth sellers I coach to target higher-end shoppers, which means setting their prices at the higher end of the spectrum.

However, an item truly is only worth what someone will actually walk in and pay for it. 

It’s good to consider the local customer base that frequents your mall and what prices they are expecting to find there. 

You don’t need to be the cheapest vendor at your antique mall, but you must ensure that your items are priced within what your actual customer base can afford.

And if you find that the prices at your location are too low to get the profit margin you want, consider moving to a location that appeals to higher end customers.

3. Understand Different Ways An Item Has Value

Several years ago, I found a great old wall clock at a flea market. It had amazing patina, and even though it didn’t work, I loved its look.

It was made by a famous maker, so out of curiosity, I contacted a local clock restoration expert.  After sending him photos, he said it wasn’t worth much because it needed a lot of repair work and the condition was poor. 

He offered me $35.  But then I sold it in my booth space for $125.

How could I get that much for it when the clock expert said it was basically trash?

I focused on the decorative value rather than the book value.

In the antique resale world, some items have what I call “book” or “collectible” value– a number determined by appraisers or experts based on demand, rarity, and condition.

Think like the folks on PBS’s Antiques Roadshow. That’s a perfect example of items being evaluated by book value.

But then there is also a whole other customer who is not looking to collect or to find a perfect condition item, they are wanting something unique to decorate with. 

That’s what I call decorative value. Because my clock looked so amazing, its high decorative value led to its high price tag.

If a piece has a great look, don’t just focus on its book value. Try selling it as a decorative piece instead, and you may be surprised at the price you can get.

4. Don’t Undervalue Your Time

It takes a LOT of time to hunt down great items. And you may have spent a good bit of time repairing or rehabbing an item before you put it in your booth space.  

Your price should reflect that. Your time is worth being paid for.

Recently, I sold a small wooden desk that came out of an old high school shop class. I drove 7 hours to spend a few days shopping this certain area in another state, and brought this desk back with me.

The desk itself wasn’t anything special–the top was pretty scratched and it was a smaller size.

But I priced it higher than other similar pieces in my mall, mainly because it cost me a lot of time to get it.  And I knew there was nothing else like it in my area.

When a customer came in asking for a discount, I politely refused, explaining that the desk came from 7 hours away and was unique to the area. 

Then guess what?

They paid full price for the desk 🙂

If you sell hard-to-find items in your antique booth, or maybe furniture pieces you spend hours painting or restoring, your time is worth money. It should be factored into the price of your item.

RELATED POST: How to Tags Items in Your Antique Booth

More Tips to Help with Pricing Vintage Booth Inventory

  • If an item sells within a day or two, the next time you stock something similar, increase your price by 10%. That item is in demand!
  • Follow current trends on places like Pinterest or Instagram, to see what kinds of items are hot. If an item is trending, add 20% to it’s price and see what happens!
  • Avoid having flash sales in your booth where you mark everything down by a percentage. This makes your booth look cheap, and shoppers will wait to shop until they see a sale sign.
  • For items that have sat too long and need to move, mark them down individually on the tag using a red marker. This is a better strategy than hosting a booth-wide sale.
  • If an item has a particularly high book or collectible value that is too high for your local customers, try selling it online instead, using a platform like Etsy or Ebay. 

RELATED VIDEO: Getting Started Selling Online for Antique Booth Owners 

Thanks for joining me today in our discussion of how to pick the right price for your antique booth items. 

 I hope you feel more confident now in your pricing strategy and that your sales soar!

 

Robin Henderson

Sunday 19th of May 2024

I'm curious about "selling something as a decorative piece only" like your clock. How exactly do you do that? Do you just say it is for decoration only on the tag or what? I have have a flea market booth in SW Missouri (about an hour from your booth :-) and I have a couple of items that fall into that category. I'm wondering how to market them as decorative only. I love your blog and your antique mall space! Thanks for all the great information!

Melanie Alexander

Wednesday 22nd of May 2024

Hi Robin :) Great question! If I am selling something that COULD work but doesn't work (like a clock, old radio, camera, etc), I will make sure to say on the tag "not in working order" or "working condition unknown," unless it's obvious. This clock I shared about didn't have it's guts anymore so it was obvious it wasn't working and just for decor. But if it's not a piece that could be working, I don't make a point to say "decorative" on the tag. Here's another example--right now ironstone that is heavily stained and crazed is popular. Collectors of ironstone would consider those pieces "damaged" and worth less because of condition, but people who just want pretty ironstone to decorate with actually like the stained look and will pay more for it :) So it's just a way to re-think about some of the items you sell, a collector shopper is different than a decorator shopper. Hope that helps!

Zonya Williams

Thursday 16th of May 2024

Thank you for your latest pricing strategies Melanie. Very helpful particularly book value versus decorative or appealing value. I need to finish your video about price tags! 🙂

Melanie Alexander

Thursday 16th of May 2024

You're welcome! It can be eye opening when you realize some things collectors see as having no value actually have a high value to the decorator!

Debbie Marucci

Wednesday 15th of May 2024

Thanks for your information. I started shopping when I retired in 2016 and have rehabbed and collected a lot of stuff. Two months ago I lucked into a large space at a local, well established mall to start selling. My husband was nervous that I had higher prices on furniture and told me to lower the prices. I sold two larger pieces last week, took $10 off each and netted at least 3x my cost. I’ll use your suggestions and tell hubs to read your blog!

Melanie Alexander

Thursday 16th of May 2024

Yay for you! I say you can always go down . . . but it's hard to go up! Glad you got the price you wanted :)

Get These 5 Furniture Painting Secrets

to help you love your next project