Are you ready to sell vintage?

Here's some things I wish I would have done better right from the start. 

1. Keep it simple

Can't go wrong being over prepared, right? Wrong. Less is more. I overcomplicated my first show in a big way.

Rookie 1st show mistakes:

  • Brought too much stuff to manage for a two-day show.
  • Drove two vehicles, four hours each way. Ouch on gas.
  • Went far from home adding hotel expenses and food.
  • Bought expensive display pieces that weren't necessary.

I wish I would have:

    • Picked a local market where I could learn and try new things without travel expenses.
    • Taken my time buying costly display things until I knew exactly what I needed.
    • Observed observed layouts and booths that were busy and taken notes.
    • Started with only a few tables of stuff so I could observe other booths and customers.
    • Talked to the promoter and other vendors and asked questions. (there are no dumb questions)

2. Set Realistic Expectations

 I fantasized customers would crowd around me, customers would be so excited by my stuff they would carry me out on their shoulders chanting my name.

That's not what happened. Success takes time. So...

  • Be committed to learn.
  • Do more with less.
  • Be humble and pay attention to what applies to your business.
  • Smile and build relationships.
  • Make your own decisions on what shows you want to do.
  • Don't blame others.

Not every show or market may be for you but when you find one that feels like home, commit and be in the same spot every time.

  • When in doubt talk to the promoter. Your success is my success. I WANT TO HELP YOU. Ask advice on how to get started. Ask to be placed near dealers with a lot of successful show experience so you can get some pointers.

3. Give Your Brand Identity a Little Time To Evolve

You started this because you have a great eye for vintage and knew you could make a business out of it. Buffy's Cool Collectible Rose Shabby Chipped Cottage seemed memorable, but now you hate it.

Take your time in finding your niche and brand. Don't think you MUST name your business immediately; have cards made with your first and last name. Call yourself a vintage enthusiast and make sure your style shines through when customers come into your booth. Work towards branding yourself and when you are ready to unveil it, you will already have a following that will be excited for you!

Bad Vintage Business card
Just Don't


Here are a few posts I wrote about my own experiences as a vintage seller:

My First Show Ever

What's the Least You Need to Know to Sell Vintage? 

For the seller with experience:

The Secret to Competition in the Vintage Industry

I hope this helps, and if you decide to take the plunge and decide to be a vintage vendor at the Vintage Garage, check out our  dealer application.

If we haven't met, I'm Melissa Sands, owner of Vintage Garage Chicago and vintage seller and buyer. I've loved the business of buying and selling vintage for a long time.

If you've never been to the Garage, check out the Vintage Garage on WGN. If you have a passion for vintage, learn about selling at the Vintage Garage Chicago.