Sunday, February 21, 2016

Vintage Dealer Interview = The Rusty Nail

I hope all of you had a good weekend and were able to get out and find some wonderful old treasures. We've got another great dealer interview today. Last week we spoke with Amber Strong of The Rusty Nail. Her booth is located at my favorite place to junk in Savannah,GA. It's called: Two Women and a Warehouse. This store has two locations. My favorite is the one located on Bull Street. Perhaps that's because it's located just down the street from my all time favorite bakery, Back in the Day Bakery. I usually try to get to Savannah once or twice a year. Having good friends that live on Tybee Island always makes it much easier for a visit. Whenever I'm town I have my obligatory list of places to visit. These two places are on the top of the list. So the next time you find yourself in Savannah be sure to put these two destinations on your agenda. You won't be disappointed.  So if you are ready for Amber's interview let's get started! 

1. How long have you been a vintage dealer? I've been what I call a retail dealer since Sept 2015. However, I've been buying, upcycling, painting and building going on 4 years. 

2. What type of setting (Mall/Boutique/Flea Market) are you in? I'm in what we call "the furniture mall" because that's what the store is well known for (painted furniture)!  

3. How many booths do you have? I currently have two booths. 

4. What size booth/s do you have? My first booth is a 11.5x10 my second booth is 11.5x6.

5. What do you sell? I sell custom furniture such as farm tables and benches, rustic and reclaimed wood pieces. My entry tables do well! I also love to upcycle so I sell a lot of that and I sell chalk painted furniture too. 

6. What do you find sells the most in your booth? The trend I see for my booth is chest of drawers, dressers and farmhouse tables. 

7. What do find sells the least in your booth? Wall decor and smalls are not my strong point. I have a good eye for "big furniture". I have not really mastered the smalls just yet. 

8. Why do you think your booth has been successful? I think I have flourished because I have a unique brand. I am very artistic and creative. I bring a unique feel to my customers. I also market and engage the public daily. I put myself out to be seen. I've grown a following because of my brand. My style of painted pieces is on high demand. My knack for the trends is always on point! 

9. How often do you refresh your booth? I pop in at least twice a week to "work my booth". This is key in our stores. We have a lot of repeat customers who come in multiple times a week. Getting things noticed is important. Sometimes those goodies are hidden. Sometimes re-staging is a must. You have to get people to see the piece in their space. That draws them in. 

10.  What mistakes have you made and learned from as dealer? Mistakes... hmm that's a good one. Let me see. Well I think the first mistake I made was thinking that it was going to be so easy. I remember saying to my husband. "It will be so much easier to just drop things off at a booth and not deal with constant appointments at my home. It will make things so much easier honey". I was so wrong. I love having a retail booth but the demand is higher once you take that leap. 

My second mistake is one we've all made I'm sure. "I love this Barn Red, it's such a statement color. I think I'll paint this French Provincial chest, it will sell fast". No. I had to learn I'm working for the public not for necessarily what I like. Sometimes that bold color may be a good idea but not on a particular piece. I've learned every piece has a person. And don't be alarmed if you have zero sales for a few days. This happens to everyone. Rework your things and keep your booth looking fresh weekly at least. 

11. What plans do you have to improve your booth for the new year? 
My plans are to really define my brand more. Making sure I'm a stand out for my particular niche. I don't want to be a duplicate of everyone else.  

12. What advice do you have for someone just starting out? Plan ahead! Talk to some dealers and store owners. Get feedback. Scout out the local shops, visit them all a few times then decide where to lay roots. Placing yourself in one spot and developing a following is important. You don't want to "mall hop" this is a turn off to your followers. Moving to a larger spot is okay. But if you researched ahead of time then you got a good size booth that allows for growth because that will happen. Staying put allows you to develop a following. There are customers that come in weekly to see what I have. If I'm moving they become stale and find a new booth to follow. Build a solid reputation. Finally, plan to market yourself daily. 

13. What do you think the number one mistake is that unsuccessful dealers make? 

#1 not being active I have to share my #2.... not marketing or promoting. 

14. Do you do this for a living, part time or as a hobby? Started as a hobby 4 yrs ago, grew to part time. Now this is my full time job. 

15. Do you stick to a specific color scheme with your booth? My style is very much Farmhouse/French Country/Rustic I don't think there's a name for it really. It's like a Mashup. I do a lot of whites, print decoupage, an chippy layers too. 

16. Do you utilize social media, and if so, which ones work best? I have a Facebook page and Instagram. Facebook seems to have the most engaged followers.  

17. What is an average month in sales for your booth? My average sales are typically $3000.00 a month. It's growing monthly though, as my following grows. Keep things interesting and you will have more sales. 

18. Do you price your items with even, odd or somewhere in the middle? I'm embarrassed to say but I've never heard of this. I price everything $___.99

I price high to allow for reductions if needed but allow for commissions to come off the top too. 

19. Where do you find your vintage goods? All over really. Auctions, estates, flea markets, yard sales, online yard sale groups, craigslist, road side. It varies. 

20. Do you change your booth out to reflect the seasons and or holidays? I do the big holidays/seasons. I go all out for Christmas. Doesn't everyone?

21. Do you swap out stale merchandise or do you reduce it for a fast sale? Depends really. For example. That Barn Red French Provincial Chest, I reduced it to sell. I'm not in this for a loss. I rather make less profit but still a nice profit rather than haul it home repaint it or store it and then resell later. If you tally it up doing that is a Loss. Let's face it, time is money! Smalls, I'll take home. Or I move things between my two booths different customer base at my second booth helps. 

22. Do you think booth location is important? Booth location is important on two levels.

The store your booth is in is important for foot traffic. Booth location in the store won't matter in my opinion. If you have a good booth it won't matter. Customers will shop your stuff and tell others. Again marketing is important but so is your product. 

23. Do you use any kind of inventory software for your personal use? The store I'm in tracks my inventory and sales. At home I have a composition book I log everything in. Date, Description and price paid. 

24. Do you market your booth/s outside social media? I do. I leave my business card everywhere. I talk with most everyone I come in contact with. Even if it's to say "Hey, have you been to Two Women and a Warehouse before? Oh you gotta check it out. Great stuff in there you would love. If you get a chance check it out. I have a booth in there. You will enjoy browsing the unique finds" that always gets the word out. 

25. Do you sell online too? If so which venue do you use -Ebay/Etsy/Other? 
I do not sell online. But I market online daily. 

26. Would you like to own your own store someday? 
I thought I did, but after much research it's a lot to be the owner. I'm not sure I'm up for that task. 

27. Do you ever participate in barn sales or pop up sales? If so, how many a year? 
I have not yet. That's something I may consider in the future.

28. Where do you find your vintage items? 
Anywhere I can get a good deal. I set my budget and I stick to my guns! I know what I want to profit and I won't go to high end estate sales just to make $40 I keep my profit margin high. So surfing flea markets, craigslist, yard sales for good stuff is better for me than just having a full booth with little profit. Remember time is money. Find your honey hole! It may be eBay, Facebook group sales, yard sales, a junk dealer. But shop smart!

Thank you, Amber for taking some time with us for an interview. We really enjoyed getting to know you a little better and looking through your beautiful photos. 

My junkin friends I hope all of you enjoyed Amber's interview.  Have a great week everyone. 

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