3 Things I Wish I Knew BEFORE I Became a Vintage Seller
When I started selling vintage in 1999, I had no idea what i was doing. Selling online was new and I was learning as I went. Here are 3 things I wish I'd figured out sooner.
1. Storage and vehicles get small fast
In 2000 we bought a Subaru Forrester, our first hatchback. We proudly packed that car full of vintage resellable items. Before long we needed more. Next up, a minivan. Dual purpose, right? WRONG. A minivan is nice for hauling your family around but not for estate sales or clean-outs. After a while, springs and shocks take your comfort and destroy the family van. In 2011 we bought a 2010 Ford E250 cargo van. It solved the problem and even today. That vehicle only drives for work, belongs to the business and we don't use the personal vehicle to haul anymore. Running out of storage happens fast. How many dealers have at least one storage unit? Many. Which leads me to the next point.
2. There is never a lack of stuff
The thrill of the hunt is what drives us. Finding that 1 in 100 BIG score. It's easy to acquire at warp speed. The selling part is slower. It doesn't take much to see that maybe 1/50 things I own are actually up for sale somewhere. This can easily turn into a situation where it's hard to say no to shopping and say yes to more selling. It seems like "money in the bank" but is it? I've always seen it as - the longer it's sitting here the more it's costing me.
It's FOMO. Fear of Missing OUT. There's no shortage of stuff to buy for resale at excellent prices. If you're having trouble finding merchandise, you're looking in the wrong places. Don't be afraid to spread the word that you buy vintage things. Pretty soon you'll be buying whole basements full IF you aren't afraid to name a price and stick to it based on value and criteria you must create. I've noticed over the past 20 years, most dealers would rather have someone else price the merchandise so they can decide their risk. If you are not afraid to make an offer and take it away? You'll never have a problem. As long as you are fair, you'll be referred over and over.
We are still in a time where Baby Boomers are downsizing their big traditional homes and are also acquiring their parent's things. Everyday, more and more comes on the market whether it's on the curb, an estate or garage sale, private sale OR you pick up the leftovers at Goodwill. Once you realize this and act accordingly, it will change your business. Owner's don't know what to do with this stuff and much of just goes in dumpsters or landfills. Spread the word and you'll have plenty of opportunities to choose from.
3. It was Never Mine
In the early years, I spent a lot of time fretting over what I lost. I'd go on an appointment and make an offer and REALLY WANT IT and then they'd have to "think about it." I'd spend days or weeks wondering what I did wrong. Should I have offered more? Maybe they'd call back or maybe not. Or seeing something you really want, only to get there first and find out it was sold last night. Blah. I could go on and on with examples like this but after whining about this to another dealer, he told me firmly, "You can't be consumed by something that wasn't yours to begin with." I'm not sure why it stuck with me, but it did. What a relief! I don't have to worry about that.
As the years are going by, I've gotten much better at reducing situations that "bother" me. As long as you try your very best to uphold strong values and work together to keep the vintage industry going? You'll do just fine. 🙂
See you soon!