Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Trying to Contain My Disappointment

Six months ago, I was so excited to sign the lease for my OWN space in an antiques mall.  The Minuteman Minimall in Culpeper, Virginia, seemed to be a perfect fit for me.  It wasn't.

(I had already packed the small items in the booth by the time I remembered to take these photos.)

I have been a shopper at the Minuteman for 20+ years.  It used to be a great place to shop ... but it fell into a spell where it was more like a crappy indoor flea market than an antique mall.  It looked to me like the quality of the dealers and their merchandise was on its way back up, and the management assured me that furniture and items like mine were in great demand.  It isn't.

Almost all of the furniture that I moved into the space over the past six months was still sitting there today when The Husband and I went to move it out.  In an effort to reduce the load, I offered a 25% discount for the past month ... only sold the small grey and white chest during the sale. 

All empty.

Was it price?  Merchandise?  Location?  Whatever it was, it took lots of sales of small items for this little venture of mine to cover expenses ... and I never got the impression that it would do anything more than that.  No matter how much I promoted myself in this location, the location itself seems to have worked against me.

Now it's time to rework the plan.  A short-term test will be the Lucketts Spring Market on Saturday and Sunday.  I'm really excited to have a booth there, since I have loved shopping this market in past years.  I wonder, though, how well my stuff is going to do in what I imagine will be a whole sea of competition.

It's not that I doubt that my stuff can compete ... quite the contrary.  I will put the quality of my items and my workmanship up against anyone else's.  I come at this enterprise from a carpentry and remodeling background, I know quality construction when I see it, and I only spend my time refurbishing pieces that are worth my time.

I have considered taking space in another antiques mall ... and I have a couple of recommendations for ones where I would probably do well.  I'm not convinced that this is what I should do.  I also have the crazy idea to have monthly sales HERE.  My little white workshop building would make a PERFECT shop space ... so would the greenhouse when it's empty of plants during the summer.

Both trucks are all loaded up and ready to go.

So, dear readers, I find myself standing indecisively at yet ANOTHER fork in the road.  If any of you have suggestions or advice to offer, please speak up.  I could use some words of encouragement ... or perhaps the voice of reason and experience.  Whatever you have, I'm listening.


  1. I think it's a combination of things... the economy for one. I used to shop these type of places for a couple of decades, but find that now that I have more money and more time on my hands that the shops I used to love have become junky. When that happens to a shop, the serious buyers go elsewhere.

    I'm sorry this didn't work out for you. That just stinks. And, I'm sorry I don't have a good suggestion for you. Your inventory is lovely.

  2. Don't give up altogether! I think a once monthly sale at your own place is brilliant. I'd jump at the chance to do that -- and think of the rent and gas you save!

    You can put that money into some advertising.

    Or, just keep it and buy dog treats.

    Seriously, though -- how nice to have total control when it's your own space.

    My sales at my booth had been going well until April when they just STOPPED. My "smalls" have been selling -- big deal -- but my furniture is just sitting.

    Tomorrow I'm working there so I'm going to rearrange things and lower prices and see if that spurs some action. Fingers crossed.

    I'm sorry Minuteman didn't work out. I don't know what's up with the market -- I'm even having trouble finding things to buy for resale!

    Let us know what you do.

  3. I hope we can make it to lucketts this weekend! I think you'll stand out for the style you add to your furniture... keep your chin up. Youll figure it out :)

  4. Donate the stuff to the AIDS resale store and take a tax write off! There is always roses!! :)

  5. I'm thinking you can sell this stuff on your property... you are open to the public, right? ... I'd call that spot The Vintage Rose.

  6. Have you tried craigslist? That would at least be a way to test the market and it's free.

  7. Don't be discouraged...I think most people go through several different spaces before they find the right fit. Wait and see how you do at Lucketts, I'm sure you will do really well!

    And you know I'm a fan of you doing the sales at your place, so see what kind of response you get at Lucketts and then go from there.


  8. Oh, Connie....what a bummer, girl. I'm so sorry it didn't work out for you. You were so excited about it and had such high hopes. I do think that the economy has alot to do with it. Sales have been very slow at my booth, too. I am hoping that once school gets out, maybe shoppers will get out more...Try Lucketts, first. Then if I were you, I'd certainly try out having a sale once or twice a month at your greenhouse! :)

    xoxo laurie

  9. How awful, Connie. Not only is it disappointing but it was a LOT of work to set up and fix up and do and re-do.

    Is Craig's list viable in your area? If not, I would try the show and then, if all else fails, I'd say hold a barn sale...invite fellow dealers...right at your own place.

    Whatever you do-don't be discouraged...because it is NOT your and NOT your "things"...it is the place and the economy. xo Diana

  10. Your items are so gorgeous and such great quality! I think this was not the right fit for you. I think Once a month sales would be a good thing to try! I still love that head/foot board in blue! Hugs, Linda

  11. I think you should do it at your place!

  12. I think others are right when they say it is because of the state of the economy. I think selling at your place is a brilliant idea while the market is unpredictable, because it doesn't involve any more outlay.

  13. Connie, That stinks! I don't have any answers but your furniture is beautiful. If I lived anywhere nearby, I would love to shop at your sale at Lucketts. I enjoy your blog so much, of course I feel like I know you! Anne Boykin

  14. Connie, I just hate that. It's about Location, location, location. Hopefully your new spot will bring in the shoppers... You have some great items..... Don't give up!

  15. Connie, I think you should simply sell from your property. Then you don't have to worry about overhead, transporting pieces, etc., and I think a little advertising will go a long way. I'd be more apt to buy something if the owner is standing RIGHT THERE so if I have any questions, I can ask. I don't particularly like flea market/antique malls for that reason. Your pieces are beautiful and you obviously are proud of them - that would show in a one on one scenario :)

  16. Agree with Tara. Definitely YOUR place! Make it an "event" quarterly or monthly. Make a deal with some restaurant nearby to provide lunches to those who order them. We are always looking for fun things to do on weekends that don't involve major walking, so flea markets are out (I'm soon for a knee replacement).

    As for why the store venue didn't work, I'm seeing that in many places. I had a favorite spot in my town that I frequented often. Now I go and the merchandise hasn't changed in months! The economy is affecting this certainly, but also the merchandise just isn't out there like it used to be. Hubby and I go to estate sales, yard sales, etc... Nothing like it used to be! I think things will turn around though. In the meantime, good luck at Luckett's and at home!

  17. The minute man used to be a great spot to find antiques and such, now, not so much! I think if you set up a monthly sale at the house, combined with roses, would be a big success!!! Good luck at Lucketts!!!

  18. Well, I, for one, would love to have that white cushion/green bottom bench... it's beautiful! =)
    So sorry you're having trouble

  19. Don't be discouraged Connie. This just wasn't the right place for you. I'm definitely a fan of the occasional sale. It doesn't even need to be monthly. Hope you have a fabulous sale at Lucketts and that will put you right back in a positive mood. I'll be looking for you!

  20. Hi Connie: great stuff, I too like the idea of you selling at your place. The 'antique malls' around here are all going under. Younger people - under 40 - seem to only want 'clean contemporary type stuff' I am told. mid century, etc... but not cute, not cottage style, not antique at all... thats what we hear... too bad.

  21. I'm assuming you will sell out at Luckett's :>) But just in case you have anything left - I would agree with the majority. You have nothing to lose by trying out your space. I would think it was a fabulous place to shop if I lived nearby. And you could use the money you're not spending on the booth for advertising. You might even consider taking friends items on a consignment basis!


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