Monday, February 22, 2016

Transitioning From Garage to Booth Space

Do you remember the first time you opened an antique booth? If you were like me, you were excited, nervous and just basically a big old mess of mixed emotions. Or maybe you haven't taken the plunge yet. While the majority of our readers are seasoned dealers that have been at this a while, we occasionally get e-mails from aspiring dealers seeking advice on taking the first step. 

Dawn and I are always looking for new ways to improve Booth Crush and help you get the most out of our site. So when Ashley McGowan suggested a couple of weeks ago we follow along as her successful home-based business transitions to a first time booth, we jumped at the chance. In her e-mail she explained the difficulty in finding information on this topic. She hopes by sharing her journey it will help someone else on this same path. The name of her business is Don't Stress, Distress and you click on the name to visit her Facebook page. Here is a little bit more information about Ashley in her own words: 

I am soon to be thirty. (Eeek!) I have always had a career/job in the food service industry. I have always loved architecture, home d├ęcor & interior design but those were usually loves trapped inside my head and fueled by trips to Home Goods. After purchasing my first house in 2013, I knew I wanted it to feel like a home. 

I spent hours searching local furniture stores until I found my dream dining room table... a farmhouse table heavily distressed & worn. Well the price tag of $1700.00 was enough to send me to my grave before I even had the chance to move in. 

The sales associate was talking about how this look & design style was all the rage especially with the use of chalk paint. I had never heard of chalk paint before and left there deciding I was going to see what all it entailed. After hours of Youtube videos, Google & Pinterest, I decided to give it a try. I purchased a quart of Annie Sloan's Old White & a $10.00 table off of a local Facebook swap site & I was on my way. 

Three hours later & a garage filled with profanities, I did it! I completed my 1st piece of furniture. In my excitement, I posted pictures on Facebook & watched in awe as all of my girlfriends started a bidding war with each other for my newly painted "masterpiece"... I use that term loosely. I never had any intent on selling the table, as it was the only piece of furniture in my newly inquired home. So it sold to the highest bidder because there will always be another coffee table & I truly needed the money more. 

I then decided that I would wait tables during the day & paint furniture at night as a way to unwind and make extra income. After four or five pieces of furniture I decided that it might be time to start a little name for myself. I looked to my best friend for help. Her Master's in Marketing paid off... on July 6th, 2014 I became known as Don't Stress, Distress! I started my Facebook business page, ordered business cards off of Vistaprint and was on my way. 

I continued working my serving job & painting furniture until October 2014 when I could no longer keep up with my client orders & requests for commission work, let alone find the time to pick up new pieces. This was my now or never moment... take the plunge to paint furniture full time or let the freedom & creativity go while I focused on my full time serving job. I took the plunge & have never looked back!!!

When I left my full time job to run my business, I got an ear full from the naysayers! I totally took a leap of faith & knew that if this journey should it leave me defeated, that I could always go back to waiting tables. By January 2015, I knew I had made the right decision. I was working day & night, harder than I ever had before and the orders just kept coming in. I looked to my mother for help & she decided that at the age of 55, she was ready to take a leap of faith too. She left her factory job of 15 years on February 1st, 2015 to assist me full time. This two-woman show is often a three ring circus and we love & enjoy every minute of it.

I have been in business almost two years now and have found amazing success. Facebook as been my source of marketing & advertising, I have also started using Instagram which has put me in contact with a few client's that don't use Facebook. 

To date I have 4,200 Facebook followers on my business page and gained 3,200 of those within the past year. My business page is currently the only way to purchase pieces from me in addition to four open house events we have had with great success this past year. I usually complete six to eight pieces each week with almost half of those being commission pieces. I would say I sell about five pieces each week on average. In most cases my inventory sells as soon as it comes in and is painted color of choice for my client.

Running a business from my home has been rather difficult. Scheduling for clients to stop by can really cut into my day. It has also led to random people that stop by at all hours not realizing that we are an appointment based business. So I have spent quite a bit of time looking for the perfect retail/booth style space that fits my vision & design as well as has great foot traffic and buyers. 

Most shops that meet those requirements have a waiting list a few pages long and rarely have anyone move out. I was extremely shocked and excited to be approached by the owner of Pigeon in the Parlour in Holly, Michigan. It is one of the most beautiful boutiques in all of Michigan and an absolute honor to be asked to join their shop as it has been four years since they have had an opening. 

I start a new journey for myself & my business as I move into my first retail "booth" space on April 1st. It is nerve wracking, exciting and scary. My fear of moving into a booth space goes from one spectrum to the other... I move in, I almost sell out & don't have enough pieces or time to refill my space properly. To the other end of the spectrum in which I have a $300 a month overhead and don't sell anything, will I be able to find enough quality pieces to fill my space & the most stressful of all...where are all of the smalls???

I look forward to documenting my journey of being a first time booth owner and where it goes from there... the good, the bad & the truthfully honest.

Thank you, Ashley for reaching out to us. We wish you much success on this new venture. We look forward to following you on your new journey. You are going to love being a booth owner. 

 I know some of you are afraid to take that leap of faith. You just have to trust your gut. As, Ashley mentioned above, take your time research and do your homework. You will know when the time is right for you. We hope you enjoyed this article. Be sure to back in April. We will share pics of Ashley' new booth space. If you have questions for her be sure to comment below. 

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