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.
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.
What does that mean in the vintage industry?
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. 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 how much you pay determines 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.
Here's what it could be:
Paid too much for your merchandise.
Sizes (everything is tiny).
Lack of knowledge on your items.
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 complain about your competition daily? 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?
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.
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!