Read, Shop or no Shop and The Least you Need to Sell Vintage  If you sell vintage, or want to become a dealer someday, you are welcome to fill out the Vintage Dealer survey.  Join me at Business of Vintage where we'll dive in.

There is a lot of competition in the vintage industry.

No doubt.

Any niche market you decide to get involved with will be filled with people who are interested in what you do. Whatever field you are in, if there is any demand, there will be competition. If you are in a niche with NO competition and you are killing it, it won't be long before it shows up.

Vintage Garage Chicago

What does that mean in the Vintage world? 

This is really simple and important and if you learn nothing else from this post this is it.

The only competition in the vintage world you need to worry about is competition to BUY. It's that simple. Here's the good news, there is plenty of stuff out there to buy. If you don't think so, keep digging, it's there.

What you buy and for how much is what determines your success.  

Most of you know about the Vintage Garage; it's my show in Chicago. At the Vintage Garage, I could have 10 vintage clothing dealers (or Midcentury dealers, any selling niche works) set up in a row for a whole day. If 3 of the 10 dealers had an amazing show and sold the heck out of their merchandise, what will the other 7 say?  "Too much competition," is my guess.  To that, my answer is, bull-loney.

The first instinct is to blame others. I get this. I want to do it all the time. The bottom line is this is a problem. You've done something wrong in this situation, so what is it?

Here's what I know it isn't:

Your neighbor's fault.
Competition from other dealers.
Too many vintage clothing dealers in a row.

Vintage Garage ChicagoHere's what it could be:

Paid too much for your merchandise.
Sizes (everything is tiny).
Sales ability.
Lack of knowledge on your items.
Set up.

If there are 10 vintage clothing dealers in a row, how many items are duplicates? Not many. What are the differences between the 10 dealers? Experience levels, quality of merchandise, consistency, marketing, set up. All of these things matter.

Here's what doesn't matter:

The fact that there are 10 vintage clothing dealers set up in a row.

Our niche doesn't have stores in malls. When people go shopping for vintage, they look for groups of stores or groups of vendors.  They want to see a LOT of stuff at once. Ten booths in a row in the same genre isn't going to hurt your sales unless you are priced too high and your merchandise isn't working for the audience.

So what does this mean to you?

If you are complaining about your competition on a daily basis, stop. Quit now. You won't make it.  

Take a hard look at your buying practices. Are you only buying at the thrift? I can pick out a booth where every item comes from a thrift in about 5 seconds flat. Where are you getting your merch and how much are you paying for it? It's the core of your problems if you have any.

How to buy and for how much is something you have to learn. It's not usually something I'm dying to share with others, but I do all the time. You buy right, you will make money in the vintage business.

"I had to learn this business on my own, so should everyone else."

Vintage vendors grumble about helping each other.  Is that smart if you want to strengthen the niche you are in?  There is serious interest in vintage. Seeing what your competitors do well can provide valuable insight to the market and help show you what works.  You can be the most experienced dealer in the world and you can still learn from others in your niche. And you should.

Check out the steady increase below via Google trends.

Google trends on vintage
See this photo to head over to Google trends and explore your niche keyword

When I go through the Vintage Garage on an early morning set up, I might stop at a booth and size it up. If the word SMART comes into my head, I know that dealer is going to rock. The set up is strong, prices are right, merch is cool. This dealer walked in the door like this. It's almost impossible for any booth to be the same as another. It's almost impossible for vendors to have the same merch at the same prices.

Every single day, I talk to dealers. I give advice on how to improve their business. Online, offline, I'm an open book. When I've asked dealers to share tips with new dealers who join the Vintage Garage show, I usually hear crickets. It's fear.

I share everything I can.

Do you know why?  I know how to buy.  How I buy and where I get my stuff is hard to duplicate even if you know my secrets and many do.

Since I started sharing info with other dealers, my vintage sales has gotten stronger, not weaker. If you know what you are doing, your tips and tricks for other dealers or customers won't affect you at all. You might even learn something and get some new vendors on the right road.

If you think competitors are your biggest problem, I challenge you to give your vintage business a hard honest look.

Let me know what you think!

Business of Vintage

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Vintage Garage Chicago

5051 N. Broadway

Chicago, IL 60640

United States (US)

Phone: 312-505-6373
Secondary phone: 8475799079

Vintage Garage Chicago is a Chicago flea market on the 3rd Sunday of the month.
Vintage Garage Chicago is a Chicago flea market on the 3rd Sunday of the month.
Vintage Garage Chicago Flea Market Vintage Clothing and shopping. July is all about vintage fashion!
Vintage Garage Chicago, 5051 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL 60640, United States (US) - Phone: 312-505-6373 Secondary phone: 8475799079 Email: URL:

11 thoughts on “The Secret to Competition in Vintage

  • February 9, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    I think a great display goes hand in hand to success, which you can find by doing an internet search…..

    • February 9, 2016 at 5:04 pm

      Agreed we’ll talk about that too! 🙂

  • February 9, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    Oh ya! This said it all …awesome read!

    • February 10, 2016 at 2:20 am

      thanks for reading Jane!

  • February 9, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    This article is spot on!! I agree that creating a true community increases sales across the board. In the short time I’ve been in “the business” I’ve seen that unfold between vendors, between businesses in the same town and now between similar shops across the city. Kudos to a great perspective! Can’t wait to read the next one.

  • February 9, 2016 at 10:15 pm

    nice!…you pretty much nailed it…simply put, lots of sellers equals lots of buyers…also, as a seller, your sales are only be as good as your merchandise, it takes a savvy seller to keep-up with current trends (always changing) and market prices ( always changing too)…and don’t forget too, the Promoter also shares in the responsibility for the success or failure of the show and should be considered when it comes time to re-up…

    • February 10, 2016 at 2:20 am

      Thanks for reading Kevin! There are many factors of course and as I promoter I know everyone has to do the best job they can. My goal is to work together to strengthen our “industry” as a whole and possibly be open to new ways of doing business that may help us all. 🙂

  • February 10, 2016 at 12:21 am

    You hit the nail on the head! Great job….I am going to share this with my Dealers.

    • February 10, 2016 at 2:07 am

      Thanks for reading!

  • February 11, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    great read! you touched on everything I have been preaching to the local show organizers/promoters i deal with … create community amongst the vendors (yes i call them vendors, i am a vendor) Right now the only community I see is the community of complainers! Complaining does not change anything, buy better, be yourself, have a brand, and be NICE!

    ~ Peace

    • February 11, 2016 at 5:19 pm

      Thanks for reading Sara! I’ll be posting on Thursdays, keep watching for more! 🙂

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