Mad Maine Vintage Shop

This little blog will chronicle my ventures into selling vintage items in a local antique market.
My booth is called Mad Maine Vintage Shop - it features items inspired by a certain popular TV show,
and I am located in lovely Maine. Viva Vintage!



Friday, November 2, 2012

Expanding my horizon


These are the kinds of mid-century items I love - and would keep in my own house.  Elegant design, functionality, and wood with metal and wood with glass.  Timeless. Classy.  Yet these three items have been in my booth for a very long time.  It's almost like my customers don't keep up with the same cool mid-century blogs that I do.


These are the kinds of items I would not keep in my house.  I find them all charming and super-kitschy in a fun way, yet, they would not suit my everyday space.  However, these are the things that my customers seem more attracted too.  I have sold quite a bit of vintage souvenirs, most of them from Florida (pre-Disney World era).  Fun things with owls and butterflies as well as mugs of all kinds are also reliable sellers. 

So, I have gradually shifted my focus.  I used to say that I could keep 90% of my booth in my own home decor, but that is approaching 50%.  Initially I sort of felt like I was selling out in a way.  That is silly, I know - especially since this is not just a hobby but a little business as well. I need to not take it personally that my customers are not necessarily attracted to the same things about mid-century decor as I am.  Also, I am not in a stylish market in New York or on the West Coast, but in a more laid-back part of Maine.  Finally, my sales venue is not upscale at all, which I like, since there is none of that whiff of snootiness that can linger around the more fancy antique stores.    Some might say that I am lucky to get away with selling cute kitsch and not have to hunt down the hard-to-find Scandinavian design pieces etc. All in all, I guess I should be content.

Do you feel like you have to love the stuff you sell in your antique booth?  Do you mostly focus on what you personally like or what you see is selling?  Can a happy compromise be reached?

17 comments:

  1. i have been trying to only buy things i personally love, but it seems like not alot of people in my area like kitsch. i'm trying to decide if that means i need to branch out, or stop selling because i don't want to start buying stuff that I won't want to keep in my house if it doesn't sell.

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  2. You should move to Maine, Rae. Kitsch is all the rage here :-) I actually don't mind selling the cute kitschy stuff because I DO like a lot of it even though I would not want to be surrounded by it 24/7. I just thought I would be selling more elegant (or Man Men-ish) stuff and cutesy stuff in a 75/25 ratio. Seems like it has turned out to be reverse. Just trying to embrace the change, I guess...

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  3. I have learned in the almost two years of boothing it that I have to separate myself from my items, but it's nearly impossible for me to put something that's not my esthetic into my booth! EEEKKK! But whenever I do, it nearly always sells.

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    1. Thanks Danavee! I also often am surprised when something I thought would sit there forever (because I myself don't like it) flies out the door, lol.

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  4. Oh, I don't know. Some things have sat in my booth or have been listed on Etsy for a year or more. Just when you seem to loose heart in a particular item someone finally purchases it.

    As time goes by we learn what items move quicker then others in our booths. But there are collectors for everything. It just takes that right person to find your item.

    With that said, I think it important to keep stock of the quick movers, but to also invest in those items that we also adore.

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    1. I think you are right on. And at least, the shelf warmers are not cluttering up my shelf at home :-)

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  5. Great thoughts to ponder...I am loving all the mid-century items I see on the west coast blogs and long to find them to purchase. Those items are very, very hard to find here in Maine. Perhaps people here are behind the trends and your pieces will be discovered later. Also, trends are just that, trends and a certain look falls out of favor. Years ago, I did NOT care for mid century modern, but I have learned to love it.
    I thought I would only buy things to sell that I like, but I think sellers have to be practical and pay the bills, first. Maybe, once your business is solid, you establish a well known store where a certain style can be found. Just today, at a church fair, I told someone I try to buy what I like, in case I am stuck with a piece.

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    1. I am hoping that I one day get a sort of brand associated with my booth so that customers come by to MY space to check out what new cool stuff I have put in. Therefore I am still a bit hesitant to expand too much - but I figure that as long as I stay mid century (and not just the modern part), I am still ok :-) Hope your booth is going well too!

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  6. Hi again. I really enjoy your blog. I resell vintage on the side and, like you, prefer to only buy/sell stuff I like. Every once in a while I buy/sell something just because I know I can make bucks on it, but... not so much. That said, I genuinely like kitsch. Kitsch is a good word to me. Unlike you, I'm 100% online, Ebay and Craigslist, but may do a booth eventually for larger stuff (lamps & furniture). From your past postings, I know you try to do a 3x mark-up. For me, I very rarely get only 3x mark-up. Instead, I aim to make at least $20/item, with $10/item as the rock bottom minimum. I really enjoy getting like 50x or 100x mark-up. As you know, tons of work goes into reselling. I hope your booth rages in the coming holiday season.

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    1. Thanks Chris. I feel like I was perhaps a bit too anti-kitsch in my post. I did not mean to imply that I look down on it in any way, just that I expected the "classier" stuff to be better sellers. After all, you can readily find deer figurines and souvenir trays at Goodwill, but it is harder to come by a Chemex coffee maker or a teak salad set. Therefore, I thought the latter would create more enthusiasm in an antique market, I guess. Also, I do have pockets of kitsch in my own house - one of my favorites are the Russian babushka nesting dolls I have on a shelf in my kitchen. Love those crazy colors!
      Finally, the 3x ROI is a minimum only. I usually make a lot more back, but my requirement is that any item I purchase has to yield at least 3x my investment to make it worthwhile. When I sell things online (which I occasionally still do, I usually make a lot more). But I hate the shipping part, and I find having an actual resell space a more fun experience. However, when I come across some truly valuable, it goes onto ebay :-)
      Love browsing your stuff by the way!

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  7. I have just resigned myself to the fact that it's completely unpredictable! :) It's so funny to come to comment and to see two of my friends (I know Rae now in real life and have become good buddies with Danavee!) commenting also -- we should start a re-seller's group on Facebook so we can all be friends and talk about this stuff. :)

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  8. So I just started a FB group. I am impulsive like that. :)
    Hopefully this link works - https://www.facebook.com/groups/278505685603874/

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    1. What a great idea! I have already requested to join - the one with the horse :-)

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  9. Perfect mod scores like that seem to collect dust in my shop too. I just think people don't want to pay what they're worth when you have them in an antique mall, prices are competitive in mine because others will have mod scores for a very low price. It's hit or miss sometimes, but experimenting is always fun.

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  10. Part of the fun is seeing what sells. I narrow my searches to certain items and styles. I want my booth to stand out and be different then the rest in my small mall. That being said, as long as I make my rent and a bit more I'm okay with that for now. I'm building a following. When I am in the mall restocking my booth I have customers say they love my items and go on to tell me what they have bought. I have items I wouldn't personally use but that I love the design of. It's like decorating someones home....a professional can select wonderful items in any style, even one they might not personally like.

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