Sunday, September 28, 2014

Vintage Dealer Interview = Nest Vintage Modern

We hope everyone is enjoying the first weekend of Fall. The weather has been gorgeous. Not too hot or cold. Just right. We've noticed some Fall foliage starting to take place around here. Eeek. Like many others, this is my favorite time of the year. There's something about Fall that makes me want to get out and pick and junk till my hearts content. And speaking of pickin...we are interviewing, Alana Waters-Piper today of Nest Vintage Modern. 

Nest Vintage Modern
@Jackson Square Antique Mall
112 East Burlington Ave.LaGrange, IL 708.352.4120

We are so happy to have her here today. So let's get started! 




1 . How long have you been a vintage dealer? 4 years.

2. What type of setting are you in? I sell at Jackson Square Antique Mall in La Grange, IL. It's about 20 minutes west of downtown Chicago. I was a customer there for 12 years before I got my own booth. I've found so many wonderful things for our home there, so it's a great fit. I also do regional markets like Nellie's Barn Sale and Kane County. Last year we had a blast at the Country Living Fair in Ohio. (Highly recommend making the trip!)

3. How many booths do you have? I keep one booth in the antique mall, then my traveling setup. -Plus I sell on Etsy.

4. What size booth/s do you have? My antique mall booth is about 10x18, but the market setup is usually about 10x10 and in front of my vintage trailer. I find that manageable to set up on my own. 

5. What do you sell? I try to keep a defined story in mind for what I sell. Usually it's something which could have been in my grandmother's home. One grandmother was all about 40's farmhouse style, the other was into designer mid-century. I tend to lean toward farmhouse with a little MCM thrown in. I'll mix in new items that have vintage flair, like handmade pennants, candles, and jewelry.

6. What do you find sells the most in your booth? Linens. I think those really tug on people's hearts. Folks see an old tablecloth and it takes them back to great moments with their mother or grandmother. They're easy to store and usually affordable so you don't have to feel guilty about picking one up for your collection. 

7. What do find sells the least in your booth? Oddly, soaps. I really thought beautiful handmade soaps would sell well since it's an affordable luxury, but nope! Sometimes I get a gut feeling that something will really light folks up, but sometimes it's off. Oh well!

8. Why do you think your booth has been successful? I think it's successful because everything about it is a genuine love of mine. My heart is completely in it. It's not something I did just because I thought it was fun, though there's not a thing wrong with that. A large reason I have my booth is because somehow going out to find, clean up, rescue, and find new homes for these items feels like I'm honoring my family history. My mother has 2 booths in Texas and has pretty much always done antique malls and markets. My grandfather on my dad's side had an antique furniture store. My grandmother was a big believer in getting something well made then caring for and repairing it if needed. Things rarely got thrown out. She sewed her curtains, linens, and clothes. They were simple with pretty touches to make them special. A plain green pillowcase would get hand-tatted trim. Simple cotton curtains would get a plain ruffle to make them sweet. That's what I grew up around and the wares I sell are tangible memoirs that honor the people I love. Does that make sense?

9. How often do you refresh your booth? I try to get it at least once a week to spruce up and add-to.

10.  What mistakes have you made and learned from as dealer? Not mixing in enough smalls. At first I wanted to be all about furniture. The tough part with that is it makes doing markets absolutely exhausting. You're basically moving an entire apartment's worth of goods each weekend. Take a handful of good furniture pieces, then mix in linens and smalls. Make sure there's a little something for anyone who likes your style. Something that's an easy treat to indulge in, some good giftables, or affordable painted furniture that's easy for a young woman trying to outfit her first home. 

11. What advice do you have for someone just starting out? Paint the story you want to tell with your booth and stick to it. Make a set of questions that help you define the story you want your personal brand to be about. Keep asking yourself those questions as you hunt for goods, then you'll have a cohesive collection instead of a box of clutter. That and get a Square reader & a reliable truck!

12. What do you think the number one mistake is that unsuccessful dealers make? Being inflexible or refusing to listen to their antique mall owners. Those folks know what sells in their space. Pick their brains and ask for advice.

13. Do you do this full time? I have before. I am now, but also freelance as a graphic designer.

14. Do you stick to a specific color scheme with your booth? No, but I try to keep my brand colors teal & red. 

15. Do you utilize social media, and if so, which ones work best? I love Facebook. I started a page about 4 years ago and am up to just about 30,000 followers at this point. Pinterest is strong, but I'm not as strong on Twitter or Instagram. Facebook tends to be the place where we're all more conversational. I'll post a picture of an old Green Stamps book and everyone has a memory of them. Sometimes the conversations go on for days or weeks. I love that! It's so fun to hear everyone's stories.

16. How do you break down and come up with your prices? I balance between my comfort level as a potential customer, sold prices on eBay, Etsy, and my peers in the mall. I try to lean to the lower end of the price range for quicker sales. It's better for customers to know they'll see fresh goods when they come back then the same old stale stuff that I could have sold a long time ago if I had priced it for $10 less. Everything has to pay it's rent. If a dresser sits for 6 months at $300 when it would have sold in 1 month at $200, then it didn't pay it's rent.

17. Where do you find your vintage goods? I'm so glad you asked! Watch our video here


18. Do you change your booth out to reflect the season and or holidays? I do! I need to go over now and pull out the summer camping stuff, but I leave the picnic items and add wool blankets for fall tailgating. There's a baseline of items which are always there, like dishes and furniture, but I'll add touches of holiday items to making being there fun for customers.

19. Do you swap out stale merchandise or do you reduce it for a fast sale? I do! And sometimes it's all about rearranging. I'll move something from the shelf to a tabletop and all of a sudden it's gone. For some reason people see it as new or maybe they didn't see it before. So in addition to swapping out stale goods to go to market or putting it on sale, sometimes just rearranging stimulates sales.

20. Do you think booth location is important? YES! Absolutely, just like any retail location, you want to be in the main flow of traffic. 

21. Do you use any kind of inventory software for your personal use? I use Square register to track sales at markets, then I keep photos & a list of everything at my antique mall booth.

22. Do you market your booth/s outside social media? I used to place print ads in local publications, but as much as I personally want to support print media, I've found that I get much more bang for my buck in social media, so that's where all of my ad budget goes now.

Do you have any other advice tips or info you would like to add? Sell what you love. Pay attention to trends, but if you sell what you love it'll always be fun. A couple winters ago I sold at a market about 4 hours from home. It was freezing cold and I slept in my chilly vintage camper but I had a blast! The people who do this for a living are good folks. Salt of the earth people who are usually pretty darn nice. Get out and meet the other dealers. You'll see them over and over. They'll become your clan of vintage gypsies, like family you look forward to seeing at the next market. It's a wonderful community to be a part of.


Thank you so much, Alana for an awesome interview! 

Friday, September 26, 2014

To Snap or not to Snap!

Come on over to our Facebook page. We are having a discussion on whether or not your antique shop or mall allows photography. Here's the link.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Antique Shop Owner Interview No. 2 = Hand Pickin Emporium

Happy Sunday friends. Hope everyone had a great weekend. The weather is certainly beginning to feel like fall around here and we are loving it. We were able to get out this weekend to a small town festival and car show. As usual we ate to much junk food that the vendors were offering up this year. But enough about our weekend. Let's get on with our weekly interview. We had the pleasure to of speaking with shop owners, Barb and Bob of Hand Pickin Emporium They are located in the heart of old Rocklin 4155 Rocklin Road, Rocklin, CA 95677. Click here to visit their facebook page. 


1. How long have your been a shop owner? My Partner and I have had a shop going on 4 years.  Hand Pickin Emporium is the second store.  It is an Antique Mall

2. How large is your store? 5000 sf. 

3. Do rent out booth space? Yes we have indoor and outdoor spaces and we do Outdoor Picker Markets every 4thSunday.

4. Before becoming a shop owner, were you a vintage dealer?  We started collecting as a hobby.

5. What do think your hot ticket items are that customers just can't get enough of? Wow that really changes Monthly, weekly and daily. 

6. What are your non selling items? Vintage Clothing

7. Do you think the shabby look is still selling very well? Yes, We sell more painted furniture then natural wood.

8. Do you sell a lot of industrial chic and salvaged items? We sell hardware, doors, windows and anything Victorian. 

9. Do you utilize social media? If so, which ones work best for you? Yes, I am a huge believer in the internet and the power of it reaching people.  Facebook is still my favorite.
10. Does your store offer any kind of creative classes? Yes, We have a paint class featuring our Pretty Powder Paint.  We teach different paint techniques.

11. How many days a week are you open? 7 days a week.  That will change in winter I am hoping for a 5 day week.

12. Why do you think your shop has been successful?  One reason is our dealers.  They are all so talented and smart "PICKER'S ".  We try to have something for everyone and every type of collector.  We also keep a "wish list" for our costumers.

13. What advice would you have for someone going into business for themselves? Know it will be the hardest job you will ever have.  We work 7 days a week 13 hr a day.  We eat, drink and sleep Hand Pickin Emporium.  Make sure you love what you do and who you do it with because that makes all the different in the world.

14. What do you think the biggest mistakes are that vendors make? Thinking they will go into a space fill it up and forget about it for a month.  I warn all mine that getting a booth is when the hobby becomes a business. Booths need fresh stock weekly. 

15. What do you think the biggest mistakes are that shop owners make? Thinking it will be fun to own a store. It is a lot of work and finding a partner that shares your vision is a must. I am lucky my partner knows my strengths along with my weakness and trust me when I make a decision. 

16. Have your done any barn sales or Vintage Markets? If so, how many? We have Pop up Markets called "Outdoor Picker Market's every 4th Sunday.  We have been doing them for about a year.

17. Do you doing shows? No shows any more. I miss doing them, just like I miss hitting the road.  Hopefully those will be in my future again.

18. What are some advantages and disadvantages of doing shows? I feel the advantage is it helps you streamline you pickin. Teaches you what sells and what doesn't.  Also let's you meet people that shares your passion. Disadvantages? Early Mornings, long hours, lots of lifting and lots of cookie loos.

19. What advice do you have for someone that wants to do a show, but has never done one? Have a cute booth.  I know people a visual and cute booths do good. Neat and organize wins.

Thank you so much, Barb and Bob. We appreciate you taking the time to speak with us. 


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Vintage Dealer No. 8 Vintage Picks by Jen

Good evening friends. We hope you have had a great weekend. They always go by too fast around here. A couple of weeks ago we lost all of our e-mail which meant we lost all of the interviews that had been emailed to us too. :-(  We posted about it, but wanted to mention it again for those of you that may have missed that post. Thankfully, Vintage Picks by Jen sent her's in to us again. So that's the one we are sharing today.


1. How long have you been a vintage dealer? In several different forms, I've been selling vintage for about 10 years.

2. What type of setting are you in? Living on Cape Cod, our population changes drastically from winter to summer, when we experience an influx of visitors.  As a result, small business owners must be very creative and plan for the changing economy throughout the year.  For sure, sales are at their highest during the summer, which I believe differs from other parts of the country.

3. How many booths do you have? Presently I have two locations, one large booth off-Cape in a 2-floored traditional group shop and one wee kitchen counter on-Cape in a 2-floored antique shop, both located in the centers of their respective towns.  I also sell vintage at flea markets, bazaars, local special events or markets and I even popped up in a shop for a weekend.  I spent last year in a wonderful little booth at Vintage Thymes Monthly Market, which has been my most favorite experience, but unfortunately located 1.5 hours away.  For that booth, we were required each month to stage a new vignette, with new merchandise for the sale that would take place during the second weekend of the month.  The space of about 20 dealers was filled with a wonderful mix of vintage and hand crafted items and was a very popular destination for customers.  It was a great way to try out having my own little “shop.”  I’ve found that setting up at local markets and holiday events requires a different mind-set when planning and prepping.  Consideration of the types of customers you may encounter for that one day event is necessary, ensuring that you’ve packed up, then displayed the items most likely to sell.  In these settings, I’ve had success with vintage items along with some vintage re-purposed handmade added in and set up to appear like a little shop on the go.  It can be a lot of work for one day, so it’s important to balance the costs of the event with anticipated sales, and in some cases, I’ve found that collaboration with others to share a space has been a great option.

4. What size booth/s do you have? Currently, my vintage is located on a counter that is approximately 2’x7’ and a central floor space of approximately 10’x15’ . . .both of which present different challenges due to their sizes and configurations.  I actually seem more comfortable working in a smaller space, so I’ve broken up my larger booth in to two spaces.  My large space has a column that I’ve wrapped in shutters, allowing me “wall space” to hang framed pictures and art.  In addition, I tend to stack smaller pieces of furniture to maximize display space and use a hutch –type piece as my focal point.  To maximize space on the kitchen counter (yes, including a sink) I’ve used items such as a chair, cake stands, crate, step ladder, wicker shelf, stools and travel cases in order to add interest to what would otherwise be a very flat surface.

5. What do you sell? I sell items that speak to me . . .which tend to fall under a very broad category of rusty metal, glassware, picnicware, mid-century, kitchen, funky/what is it, nautical and pretty & sweet!

6. What do you find sells the most in your booth? It definitely depends upon the location, and shows the importance of knowing your market at each location.  At my larger location where I’ve been for 8 months, I’m still trying to figure out what’s hot because it seems very hit or miss, but definitely Pyrex bowls & fridgies, framed artwork, old photos, nautical, serving utensils/cheese domes/cake plates and thermoses/picnicware.  Due to the shop’s large size and number of other dealers, my sense is that if it’s price right, the item will sell or if the customer falls in love with the item.   At my little kitchen counter, where I’ve been for 6 months, pitchers/creamers, dessert dishes/plates, ironstone and glassware have been popular.

7. What do find sells the least in your booth?  Vintage purses, linens, furniture, books, galvanized

8. Why do you think your booth has been successful? I believe that I price fairly and ensure that my space looks different from the surrounding spaces.

9. How often do you refresh your booth? I try to visit my spaces at least 3 times per month for a refresh and adding new goods.

10.  What mistakes have you made and learned from as dealer? Stay away from theme type purchases (for example, items specific to an upcoming holiday, other than Christmas) and stick with what I know, which is the items that speak to me or something that I myself would want.  Also, I’ve found that I very much miss the interaction with customers in my booth spaces (since both shops are staffed) so am grateful for the customer interaction on Facebook and when I set up at local markets and events.  I always love to learn about the beautiful old things that find their new homes!

11. What advice do you have for someone just starting out?  Buy low so that you can afford to price fairly, stay organized and refresh your items in your space.  Side note: when buying low, don’t go crazy buying items just because they’re cost effective, buy what you think will sell in the venues where you’ll be so as not to be burdened with a lot of extra stuff.

12. What do you think the number one mistake is that unsuccessful dealers make? Overpricing items

13. Do you do this full time?  I do not, though I often dream of having my own shop full time!

14. Do you stick to a specific color scheme with your booth?  I use a lot of green/white/beige for my furniture/set up pieces and try to group & layer items to tell a story either by color or by subject matter (back to school, nautical, farmhouse).  At present, I have a red, white and blue shelf because I loved how my 4th of July vignette looked, but it’s about time to change up that display.

15. Do you utilize social media, and if so, which ones work best? I have been actively promoting my vintage at Vintage Picks by Jen on Facebook for two years now.  I love posting and sharing and interacting with my FB friends and have sold a few items as a result of the page.  Many of my FB friends have come to visit me at the various venues where I’ve set up, and it’s always such a thrill to meet them in person!

16. What is an average month in sales for your booth? $100-$400, depending upon location and time of year. . . I still consider it a hobby that I love.

17. How do you break down and come up with your prices? I wish I had a formula to offer but really, I tend to use my gut instinct. . . possibly based on what I would pay if it was an item I wanted.  I always strive for a very fair price.

18. Where do you find your vintage goods?  Yard sales, flea markets and thrift shops . . . oh, how I do love the hunt and not knowing what treasure will be found!  Over the years, I’ve streamlined my visits to thrift shops, visiting the ones where the purchase of an item would still leave some meat on the bone.  Some thrift shops have become gift shops and those I only frequent if I’m looking for something special.  The item I’m always in search of for myself . . . Cathrineholm . . . and I have my kiddos trained to help in the search!

19. Do you change your booth out to reflect the season and or holidays? Yes, getting ready to change it up to a farmhouse fall!  I do not recommend Christmas in July, however, I sold not one item!

20. Do you swap out stale merchandise or do you reduce it for a fast sale?  I tend to do both but if I’m tired of looking at an item, I’ll drop the price and bring it to the flea market.  Over the last few years, I’ve found that an item may not sell at one venue, but then sell immediately at another venue.

21. Do you think booth location is important? I’m sure that it is.  During my year at Vintage Thymes Monthly Market, I was in a very small space, but it was a corner booth not far from check out, so I felt that it was a great location for my items.  Both of my current spaces are located on the second floor, so I rely on standing out with a different look and pricing well.  I had an opportunity to relocate my large space to the first floor, but it would have meant a move to a much smaller booth.  I opted to stay in the larger location with a plan to make my space stand out.

22. Do you use any kind of inventory software for your personal use? I do not, I use notebooks for each venue to track my inventory.

23. Do you market your booth/s outside social media? Twice I’ve advertised on Craigslist for my large booth, but I haven’t yet gotten the sense that it’s been helpful.  I’ve sold a couple of dressers on Craigslist, which was great for making a quick sale and recouping the cost of the items.

Do you have any other advice tips or info you would like to add? Do y If you’re breaking into the vintage business, make sure that you love vintage and all that comes with it!  I started by taking baby steps . . . I set up a few times each summer at a flea market (rent is only $20-$25), two summers ago I decided to splurge and buy business cards, immediately setting up my Facebook page, soon after that I found Vintage Thymes Monthly Market while also consigning items at another shop.  Now I “play shop” with my two booths while also setting up at a few markets throughout the year.  My goal is to establish an Etsy page in order to share my vintage online.  Buy what you love and enjoy the journey!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Even, Odd or in the Middle?

We took a  survey yesterday on pricing your items. We were curious to see if you like your numbers even, odd or somewhere in the middle? Click here to read that post on FB.