Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Think Vintage: The Selling Basics

Selling your vintage items is a very broad subject with many variables. For now, we'll stick to the basics. The most important part of selling is knowing what you have and how much it is worth. No matter what you have to sell, the buyer expects you to tell them as much about the item as you know. That's why doing your research is so important. Selling is an art and, like any other art, it takes time to master.

Okay, let's talk about where to sell first. The where of selling all depends on the time and effort you want to put into it as well as the price you want to get for your items (wholesale or retail). Here is a list of places to sell your wares: Auctions, fleamarkets, rental spots in shops, your own shop online or off, garage sales, through ads in various publications, pawn shops, selling to shop owners or selling directly to a collector. I'm sure you can think of other places to add to the list. Any time you display your items, such as at a fleamarket or in a offline shop setting, do it with style. Cover your tables with nice linens. I found it works better if you don't use any cloth with patterns as it tends to draw the eye away from the merchandise. You want the potential buyer concentrating on the items your selling, not the fluff around it. As a beginner, I would start by using price labels. Don't use tape to write your prices on, or write the price on the item itself, because it's more difficult for the buyer to remove once the item has been purchased. If you are selling vintage books, then use pencil to write the price inside the front cover or page of the book. If you are selling cups and saucers, or anything that has an opening on it, then use the tie tags on the items.

If you are selling directly to the potential buyer, I suggest wearing a nice shirt and jeans instead of a t-shirt and jeans. It's all about the presentation. Use wraps for your merchandise instead of newspaper. By wraps I mean those soft pads people put under patients who suffer incontinence. They don't scratch the merchandise and they are reuseable.

Now, let's discuss how to price your merchandise. As a beginner in this business, if you purchased the items using my 10% rule, then you have a lot of leeway in your pricing. If you are selling out of your own shop, online or off, then ask full retail price. That also applies if you are selling to a collector or if you rent a space to display your wares in a shop. When you are selling at a fleamarket expect a lot of haggling on your price and, in my experience, getting full retail price at a fleamarket is rare. When people shop at a fleamarket, or a garage sale, they are looking for bargains. What worked best for me was to set my prices a few dollars higher than I was willing to take knowing the potential buyer would ask me to come down on my price. That way the buyer thought they were getting a better deal and I sold the item for the price I expected to get. Win-win situation.

And this is the end of the "Basics". Once you've mastered the basics, then it's on to the best way I've ever found to sell. Be a "picker." My picker mantra is simple: Buy then sell as fast as you can will keep the money rolling in.

Let me tell you a little story of how I became a "picker". When I was setting up at fleamarkets, early in the morning a few folks would stop by my tables and end up buying my best items. It became a pattern every time I set up. I'd ask them if they were collectors and they'd just give me a little grin, but they never answered my question. I started getting a bit suspicious of what they did with my stuff once they'd bought it. Being a newbie, I didn't have a clue. This went on for about 6 months or so. One weekend I was setting up at a fleamarket just down the road from an antique shop. I watched as my buyer left my table, got in his car and drove to the antique shop. Hmmm. After closing up for the day, I decided to check out that antique shop. I saw atleast 10 of the items I'd sold over the past month setting in that shop for sale. That's the day I knew I could cut out the middleman and sell to the shops myself. I've been doing it ever since.

If you're interested in becoming a picker, then you'll want to read my next post once I have it written. I've delved into it a bit on forums, but there's a lot more to it.

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