This is a series of posts about the business of vintage. I took a survey of 250 vintage dealers and in this series; I'm starting with the top 10 most shared issues. If you'd like to get a notice when the new post is up, sign up below.
Check out the first two articles in the series: Shop or no Shop and Competition. If you sell vintage, or want to become a dealer someday, you are welcome to fill out the Vintage Dealer survey. If you are in Chicago and would like to sell at the Vintage Garage, APPLY HERE. Join me at The Vintage Expert where we'll continue the discussion!
Begin To Sell Vintage.
There is a lot that goes into selling vintage. But you don't need to know it all before you can get started. Aside from the actual merchandise, here are 5 things to help you begin. The rest will come with time and experience.
I have an iPhone 6 Plus. It does it all, including my Ebay photos. At first, I thought it might be too big, but I have terrible eyesight so it's actually good for me. I'd stay at an iPhone 6 or above; It sounds like a 7 is coming soon. I use an free app called VSCOcam for taking photos. The best thing about it (for me) is the ability to adjust your exposure, making it lighter or darker, before you take pics. It makes editing a breeze.
I haven't used a digital camera for anything in at least 3 years. iPhones can handle all of your photos. You can also monitor your business by accessing Ebay, Etsy, Facebook, Instagram AND your email. If you don't have a smart phone then you need a home computer, but you should probably look into getting a smart phone fast.
A Business Card
A simple business card with your name and email address is all you need. If you are serious about being a business, you need something to hand to customers so they can reach you. Don't rush to pick a name or logo. Wait until you feel comfortable with the direction your business is going before you commit to a name long term. Adding a phone number is also a good idea. If you prefer text or email, it's ok to say so. Google Voice is a good alternative if you would like a separate number. It gives you voicemail and everything.
A Home Base
A place that you sell at - a group shop, mall or shop (where you don't have to be present) - is important. If you do a market or a show once a month and are consistent, that works too. It's a place where customers are able to see you in the flesh. It takes time to build your base. I set up in my very first mall type setting last April, but my best month wasn't until this January. You have to be dedicated to going in at least once a week, if not more. Rearrange and sprinkle in new merch as often as possible. Be aware of what is selling, observe other booths and adjust.
You have to sell yourself. What is your story? There's power in selling yourself and your image. Customers want to know you, like you and buy what you like. Do you have a specialty? How can you promote it? Learn more about writing online and how to convey that story.
Facebook is especially good for this. As of January 27, 2016 there were 1.036 BILLION ACTIVE Facebook users. 65% of those users visit the site daily. A Facebook page is a mini website. Once you get this established, you can work on a website.
Something To Offer
- When was the last time you gave something away that had value that your customers would love?
- Do you sell vintage jewelry? Share your expertise. Tell them about your favorite brands and why. How can you tell a good unmarked piece of vintage jewelry from a not so good piece?
- If you sell vintage clothing, what can you teach them about 1950's dresses? How about that union label thing?
- If you sell Midcentury furniture, what's the difference between Lane furniture and Paul McCobb furniture?
- Give back to your audience. Help them level up their collections and build trust.
Let me know what you think!
The Chicago Vintage Clothing and Jewelry Show will take place March 1, 3pm to 8pm, March 2, 2019. 10am to 5pm at 5649 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL 60660. St. Andrews Greek Orthodox Church at the corner of Hollywood and N. Sheridan Road. The official website is www.vintageclothingandjewelry.com
The 2018 Vintage Garage dates are April 22, May 20, June 17 , July 15, August 19, September 16, and October 21. There will be 100 vendors offering cool vintage and antique pieces every 3rd Sunday, April to October. Vintage Garage is located at 5051 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL 60640. Hours are 10:00 am to 5:00 pm with a $5 admission. Official website is www.vintagegaragechicago.com.
Vintage Garage Chicago