A First-Timer’s Experience Selling at a Vintage Market


A first-timer's experience selling at a Vintage Market - great advice! girlinthegarage.net

A little over month ago, on one unseasonably cold day in May, I participated in my first vintage market in a nearby covered park plaza – the Three Little Birds Market.  In this post I’ll share all the details of my space, everything I learned while preparing for and selling at the market, and all my thoughts including what I’ll do differently next time.

Here’s my space all set up:
A first-timer's experience selling at a Vintage Market - great advice! girlinthegarage.net

I was lucky enough to get an end spot, which means people had two ways to enter my space, and I was one of the first spots people saw when they entered the pavilion.  I found this out a couple days before the event, and set up everything in our driveway to plan the design and flow.  If you’ve never done a market before, knowing the size of your space and having a setup plan will make a huge difference when it’s market day and you need to be efficient with your time.  As you can see, the basic layout is the same, we just flipped it from left to right.

A first-timer's experience selling at a Vintage Market - great advice! girlinthegarage.net

Tips:  Find out ahead of time if your market will allow you to set up a tent. Not all markets will let you use them if you’re under a pavilion or in a building.  Also, if you will need electricity, let the organizers know in advance because that may help determine where they place you.  This information should be included either when you apply or when you’re accepted to be a vendor.

While not necessary, it helps to have a sign for your space – especially if you’ve been promoting the event to people who follow your business on Facebook so they can easily find you.  I made my DIY fabric sign myself and hung it from a curtain rod from the canopy.  Others hang a sign from their main table/tablecloth, but that won’t be easily visible if there are other people standing in front of it.  Other ideas are an easel, a chalkboard, sign hung from pvc pipe stand, etc.

A first-timer's experience selling at a Vintage Market - great advice! girlinthegarage.net

My tent came with one “wall,” and I used the DIY folding display with chicken wire that Mr. GITG made for me as another wall.  I also had fabric garland clipped to it for sale, so that was a dual-duty piece.  (It’s also quite easy to move and transport since it folds up – and you could clip any number of things to it for selling at a market.)

A first-timer's experience selling at a Vintage Market - great advice! girlinthegarage.net

Mr. GITG also stained unfinished wood crates for me to use as shelves for the DIY apothecary jars, held together with large binder clips.  The stain was also used on the folding display, and all the tablecloths matched (and was the same fabric I used for my GITG sign), so everything had a nice, clean, uniform look to it.  I actually had several comments from customers about how nice my space looked, and I think that was all due to setting it up in advance and planning ahead.

A first-timer's experience selling at a Vintage Market - great advice! girlinthegarage.net

I designed and printed this sign out for display.  I love this quote so much and it reminds customers just how much work (and love) goes into each handcrafted product that’s for sale.  I’ll have this available as a free printable on my blog soon!

A first-timer's experience selling at a Vintage Market - great advice! girlinthegarage.net

For a lower pricepoint, I made these magnets out of vintage earrings and yardsticks.  It’s important to have things at a variety of pricepoints so you can appeal to more customers.

A first-timer's experience selling at a Vintage Market - great advice! girlinthegarage.net

I also brought a vintage painted suitcase, four DIY memo boards with painted frames that Mr. GITG helped me with, and two burlap-covered memo boards (Ballard Designs easy knockoff project).

A first-timer's experience selling at a Vintage Market - great advice! girlinthegarage.net A first-timer's experience selling at a Vintage Market - great advice! girlinthegarage.net

I had free Hershey’s Kisses for market-goers, which adults and kids both enjoyed, in a thrifted wooden tray that I painted and stenciled.

A first-timer's experience selling at a Vintage Market - great advice! girlinthegarage.net

And I made lots of wooden signs in three different sizes, a few which were stenciled but most of the designs were created online on a free website called PicMonkey (affiliate link) and then transferred by tracing or using an image projector.

A first-timer's experience selling at a Vintage Market - great advice! girlinthegarage.net A first-timer's experience selling at a Vintage Market - great advice! girlinthegarage.net

Here are a few more tips and things I learned:

1.  It’s very important to smile, greet customers, and have a positive attitude. Even if you’re tired, had a long day, sales aren’t great, etc.  The first impression you give people will affect how potential customers will react to you and your items.  If someone is browsing in your space, make small talk, compliment something they’re wearing, comment on your products if they’re interested.  But always be friendly and do not act like a pushy used car salesman.

2.  It’s in your best interest to get an inexpensive card reader like Square so you can accept credit cards on your smartphone with wifi.  It is so simple to use for both the seller and the buyer!  You can order one online or get it from a number of approved retailers (my closest Target and Best Buy both have them) and then just download a free app and add your information.

3.  I cannot stress how helpful it is to have a helper there with you.  Not just for setup and teardown, but for staying most of the day.  My husband ended up staying with me and it was such a huge help!  There were a couple times when I needed to leave the booth for a few minutes and both times he sold items while I was gone.  If I had left my space completely unattended I probably would have had less sales for the day.

4.  And continued from #3, it is important to get away for a few minutes at a time and visit the other vendors.  Sure you can go shopping, but make sure you talk to the other vendors, especially ones who sell similar items or have a style you really like – trade business cards, Like them on FB, stay in touch.  It’s great to have local contacts and several of them told me about other markets they were planning to sell at and shops that they rented space inside.  It’s like a little community of creative vendors and it’s a neat feeling to be part of that.

5.  Try to keep the feel of a cohesive brand – with your display, business cards, price tags, shopping bags, a lookbook of other products you’ve created, what you’re wearing, etc.  It will make you seem more experienced and professional, and can bring you future business also.

All in all it was a really fun day and I learned SO much.  I learned that I need to start preparing much more in advance next time (LOL).  And I’ll probably focus more on bigger furniture than smaller decor next time.  I did apply for another market and I’m still waiting to hear if I’ve been accepted – fingers crossed!

If you have any thoughts or other advice, please leave it in a comment below.  XO

Jen

And here’s even more ideas and advice for doing your first vintage market or craft fair:

vintage-market-craft-fair-vendor-tips-resources-collage


 photo just-paint-it-ad-border-wide_zpsmka7ckdc.jpg

15 Comments on A First-Timer’s Experience Selling at a Vintage Market

  1. Just Justin
    July 5, 2016 at 3:16 pm (1 year ago)

    Your set up looks phenomenal! Thanks for sharing all of your tips and tricks! 🙂

    Reply
    • Jen
      July 7, 2016 at 10:38 pm (1 year ago)

      Thank you Justin – I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      Reply
  2. julie
    July 6, 2016 at 5:27 am (1 year ago)

    This is Great info, Jen. I have enjoyed all the posts in this series, and it sounds as just like everything, sucess is in the planning! I would really love to try and do a market like this, and/or also find a shop to set up a small space, since Indiana weather has such a limited outdoor season.

    Reply
    • Jen
      July 7, 2016 at 10:38 pm (1 year ago)

      Julie, I understand what you mean. I’ve actually applied to do an indoor market next time, and having a space in a shop is great because you don’t have to be there in person all the time! Markets and stores both have some advantages and I’m sure disadvantages also. Good luck if you decide to give it a go!

      Reply
  3. Tracy Shudo
    August 15, 2016 at 3:56 pm (1 year ago)

    Great set up, I did craft sales only at Christmas for about 5 years, just crafting stuff has changed. But I did learn what you did say about being very professional, just by having all your tables covered in same fabric. What were the things hanging on the chicken wire? Great idea to hang things on I LOVED your painted sign!! Question do you do as well selling at these type of places or on line? I am thinking of selling again and thought on line sales would be better? Thanks for al you do, and all the help and advise you give us out here…

    Reply
    • Jen
      August 18, 2016 at 6:29 pm (1 year ago)

      Thank you, Tracy! The things hanging on the chicken wire are rag garland. I have a closeup of the garlands and more details about how we made the chicken wire display here: http://girlinthegarage.net/2016/06/diy-folding-display-with-chicken-wire Oh and my Girl in the Garage sign is actually sewn, not painted. 🙂 Here’s how I made it: http://girlinthegarage.net/2016/05/diy-fabric-backdrop-sign I don’t sell anything online since my products are mostly furniture, but I have a lot of friends who have success selling handmade/vintage items on etsy. There are quite a few good articles and books out there about how to run a successful business selling online – I have stumbled on them from time to time, but I haven’t dug in deep. I hope that helps – good luck! 🙂

      Reply
  4. Claire Purcell
    August 19, 2016 at 8:56 am (1 year ago)

    Hi I love your work and your tips! It seems like you and other vendors have done the business cards, postcards, tags, etc yourself. I am graphic designer who would love to do these pieces for vendors like you. Do you think there is much need for it? Good luck with your business!

    Reply
    • Jen
      August 22, 2016 at 7:15 pm (1 year ago)

      Thank you, Claire! I do think there is a need for it. People may have an idea how to print cards but many probably don’t know where to go to have them professionally designed. A consistent design (i.e. branding) is definitely important with cards, price tags, even stickers.

      Reply
      • Claire Purcell
        August 22, 2016 at 7:37 pm (1 year ago)

        Thanks so much for getting back to me. If you hear of anyone that would like graphic design help please pass my name along. Thanks again. Keep being so creative!

        Reply
        • Jen
          August 24, 2016 at 9:59 pm (1 year ago)

          Do you have a website or Facebook page for people who might read this post and see your comment?

  5. Claire Purcell
    August 25, 2016 at 5:10 am (1 year ago)

    Hi Jen,
    Unfortunately I don’t have either for my work at this time. I only have a Pdf of work at this time. I hope to do a website soon. Thanks.

    Reply
  6. JETTIE
    October 23, 2016 at 4:59 pm (11 months ago)

    This was very helpful and thank you so much! My friend and I just rented a booth space at a flea market for the first weekend of every month. This is a great read!

    Reply
  7. kim
    September 13, 2017 at 9:45 pm (2 weeks ago)

    Your booth looks great. How large is the tent and where did you find it? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Jen
      September 20, 2017 at 1:40 pm (4 days ago)

      Thanks Kim. The tent is 10×10 and I got mine from Target. However, I really wish I would’ve bought a tent with a white top. Many outdoor markets require white tops, so I would recommend buying a different one than I did for that reason.

      Reply
      • kim
        September 20, 2017 at 8:47 pm (4 days ago)

        Thanks so much. I would have never thought to look at Target. And thanks for the tip on the color. I was looking at a blue one but maybe I should reconsider. Thanks again!
        kim recently posted…Hall Tree Re-DoMy Profile

        Reply

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