14 Tips on How to Open an Antique Booth

Do you think you might want to open an antique booth? Here are 14 tips on how to get started.

My love of antiques all started with one woman. My mother-in-love. She has been a collector her whole life and with two gifts from her early in my marriage, I was hooked.

Antique Gifts from my Mother-in-Love

gilded mirror

One from her…

Statue Named Wendy

And the other handpicked by her as a gift from 007.

face of wendy

How could you not be hooked by this face? Her name is Wendy and she is both young and old.

A Small Decorating Business

Years later, when Pinterest came about, my sister, Kiki (her childhood name) and I became addicts! We started a small decorating business, along with my youngest sister, Kellie, and were on the brink of opening a home staging business in our hometown, when Kiki’s husband was offered a job in another state. We loved shopping in antique stores, thrift stores and flea markets. I miss my sisters. I miss our shopping excursions and the thrill of finding something that we could transform into a gem.

sisters

So, I decided to open my own booth in an antique mall. It was a way to stay connected, in a sense, to my sisters and continue the fun of treasure hunting. I’ve learned a lot in the 3 years since I started, so I thought I’d share a few tips with those who might be thinking of opening their own booth.

14 Tips on How to Open an Antique Booth

         1. Go slow, start small.

One mistake I made was not planning the overall style of my booth ahead of time. I purchased items that I thought would sell without thought to any type of theme or style. Now 8 months later, I have items that haven’t sold and don’t really fit into the overall look I am going for. On the bright side, my customers get great prices as I work toward my new look.

Setting up an antique booth

 

          2. Investigate mall policies and amenities.  

If there are multiple locations for you to choose from in your area, be sure to investigate each mall and what all they have to offer. I now have two locations and love them both. One is open 7 days a week in a prime location not too far off the interstate. It has lots of booths with lots of choices in antiques and current trends. The other mall is open 6 days a week, and 30 minutes longer per day than the other. It also has lots to offer with creative, friendly booth owners, daily email with a list of items sold that day, and a monthly sales event with extended shopping hours.

          3. Buy smart.

Choose your display cases, shelving, and lighting, to fit into the overall look of your booth. Purchase items that offer beauty, style and function. I was so excited to get started, that I didn’t give a lot of thought to how I might display hanging items. I bought white pegboard and installed it right away.  Since then, I’ve fallen in love with booths using reclaimed wood, shiplap or lattice as their walls. At the very least, I wish I’d painted my pegboard and still plan to do that soon. When purchasing for your booth, shop estate sales, thrift stores, online resale sites like CraigsList, VarageSale and auctions. Make bi-annual trips to market, focusing on items that fit your style and aren’t sold in local big box stores. We can’t compete with Wal-Mart or Hobby Lobby.

gathering treasures

My booth, the first month.

Budgets, Projects and Style of the Booth

          4. Set a budget.

There are booth owners who start with as little $100, but honestly, I don’t see how. Pegboard or similar materials will cost that much. A more realistic number is between $500-$1000 to get started. That does not include rent, commission or advertising.

          5.  Avoid huge project pieces, unless it’s something you love to do.  

I originally bought several pieces that needed painting or updating in some way, just for the fun of it. I now recommend starting with pieces that need little-to-no work, so you can concentrate your energy and time on setting up your booth. Work on projects to fill in as you sell items.

          6.  Plan the style of your booth.

Use your own distinct personality and taste. The name of my blog, decorating style and stage of life have everything to do with the style of my booth. CoziNest was born out of a need to refill my empty nest with new loves. So, I wanted my booth to reflect this. The goal is to feel cozy, portray a sense of nesting and offer pieces that create a comfortable home with a mix of antiques and current trends. Birds gather twigs, strings, and feathers from other locations that make their nest uniquely theirs. An osprey nest is different from that of a seagull, yet they are both seabirds. To help you get started, scan booths you love and incorporate items that match your look or style, without encroaching on their personal style.

This was my pin-spiration. Click on the photo to visit Country Provenzale e Shabby Chic site. My goal is to create a booth that reflects the style of French Industrial who married Rustic Elegance. 😉

Price Tags, Inventory and Social Media

          7.  Design your price tags.

Purchase a die-cut, cardstock, ribbon or twine and a hole punch. Stay with a predetermined color scheme for a professional look. Or, you can order tags from someone like VistaPrint, or make your own on the computer. I do a combination of all three.

          8.  Decide on a price point for your merchandise.

Is your merchandise high end? Bargain-based? Or somewhere in the middle?  I want to pass my savings on to my customers, so they’ll come back again and again. There are some items over $300, but most are below $100.

          9.  Create a spreadsheet to keep up with cost and profit of merchandise. This helps keep track of what sells and what doesn’t.

          10.  Curate your social media pages.

Facebook/CoziNest

Pinterest

Instagram

Twitter

          11.  Restyle your booth at least once per month.

a view to a booth

July CoziNest Booth Photo

Table with Pumpkins

          12.  Keep it clean.

          13.  Items that sell: I’ve had success with storage items like baskets, canisters and tables with drawers. Greenery, footstools, vintage bottles, galvanized watering cans and farmhouse decor are all quick sellers.

          14.  Carefully choose these items that haven’t sold well: Upholstered furniture and mismatched dishes.

Do you love antiques? Was it due to a gift from a loved one? We are all on a path with a purpose. I found mine awfully late in life, but God’s timing is always perfect. I hope this has been helpful if your path leads you to open an antique booth.

12 thoughts on “14 Tips on How to Open an Antique Booth

  1. Do you buy from whole sale and resell, make anything yourself?

    Did you need a business license and register with your state to sell?

    Thank you for this!

    1. I buy some wholesale, some thrifted and some items from local estate sales. The mall owner holds the business license. I do have an EIN to purchase at market. You are most welcome. Good luck if you are trying this business. It’s addictive!

      1. Hi Kim!! I’m just starting on my journey to start my booth and am wondering if you can provide more information about who you buy wholesale from? Thanks in advance!!

        1. I’m currently looking for more wholesalers. I used to buy from Creative Co-op, Park Hill and CTW. I need a fresh look now, so I’m going to market in January.

    1. Hi Sarah, I have two 9×12 booths that are side by side. I started out with one 8×10 booth. I recommend starting small. If you have the space at home, set up your booth there to see how much space you need.

      I do love what I do. I’m sure you will to! Best wishes for a successful business!

  2. Hi there! I’m conpletely in tune with your passions and wanting to start something new. I love a deal or bargain and i always loved shopping and finding one. Im starting over from divorce but selking house wanting to do something i love for income. I eould live someone like youbto take me under tgeir wing to start. I have antiques and items here at house i cpuld keep vs selling and begin a booth. I was trying to become a stager leaving a 2700 sq foot house and was going to have an estate sale.to downsize.

    1. Did you have to get an antique license or cpuld you go wuth your passion and “eye” for a deal?
    2. I have some money to start and i know i would love it, i feel a passion for this. How much to start up usually?
    3. How did ypu pick your mall? I waa thinking in moving closer to beach as i am 25 miles out of chas now.
    2. Its funny that someone tells you a plate is wortg 5 cents and you go to a dealer and worth $25 as i didnt liok it up so i wanna learn more in my time, stay busy, and uniquly buy items as well as meep some i believe i could start with…..do you think you can start like that?
    3. Ive had so much stuff and some i do or dont want to part with like 6 years of christmas items expensive as i could also use for boorh “seasonal”. Spent 7 years going to kirklands and belk buying things 75% to 90% off just for ex.
    4. You mentioned theme can you start w different items?
    5. I would love love to do this and would love some tips also before i sell items i can use in my “start up”
    6. The mall closer to beach is more high end. Looks like which some of my items are hete at house
    7. Wanted to call it NewLifeAtIt’sBest. Just a thought. Im solo w 2 dog kids and think this would give me that “spark” im looking gor
    8. Any suggestions as i too live like youband your sisters a bargain but also woukd like to devote full time to this.
    9. Best way to pick where or start?
    10. I would love your input and would love to vegin this.

    1. Hi Katherine! Thanks for your interest and I completely understand about typos. No worries! I think your passion is a great place to start and downsizing will fill your booth to get started. I highly recommend doing it that way because you clean out and stock your store without investing in a lot of inventory.

      There’s no need for a license in the state of Alabama. I’m not sure about where you live.

      If you begin with a small booth and sell your own things first, the only investment will be your rent. Shop around your local malls and see which one fits your personality best. You can make a lot of friends, have loads of fun and learn a lot from a friendly mall!

      I don’t recommend placing seasonal items that you don’t want to sell in your booth. EVERYTHING needs a price tag. Your clients may get frustrated if you have items they want to purchase that aren’t for sell. I only have a few display items that are NFS. Like a bookcase, or blanket ladder, etc.

      If I can help further, please send me a message. Best of luck!

  3. I’m just starting out, opening a booth at a popular vintage mall. I too, am starting later in life and very nervous~ but excited! My hubby is helping, as well as creating/recreating items. My booth is being born out of a time when our world is facing a difficult time of illness, unemployment and sporadic socialization. I agree~ God’s timing is always perfect. Your tips are SO helpful! Thank you for sharing!

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