This year I was extremely excited to attend St Louis Vintage Market Days as a buyer FOR THE FIRST TIME!
So I put together some of my best advice I learned from my weekend of braving crowds…
-Top 10 Tips from a Buyer’s Perspective-
1. Prioritize what you REALLY want and what you think you want.
2. Do some research about what the going-rate is for similar or same items that you want. A lot of times, reproductions of actual vintage items are super expensive! And lots of people pay that higher price because they can’t find the real deal. So either write down or make mental note of the price range you are willing to pay for the items, so you know you max budget, but also when you see a great deal.
3.Go the first day (if there are multiple days) and go early. Scout out every booth if possible. Sometimes those booths that have a bunch of candles or jewelry also have some really cool vintage items as well, so don’t dismiss those at first glance.
4. Go through each booth twice. The first time you likely notice everything at a mid-eye level with the exception of an eye-catching display that might pull your eyes upward or downward. You need a second walk-through to notice things hung high, things on lower shelves, or tucked behind corners… those are often the gems!
5. If you find what you REALLY want or that you unexpectedly LOVE on the first day or at the beginning, don’t haggle or walk away. Buy it. Or someone else will before you get a chance to return. I walked by some wooden candlesticks that were a great price and I thought, ‘oh when I come back for a second walk-through I’ll buy them.’ By the time I got back there an hour and a half later, they were gone. 🙁
(Candlesticks pictured below on this table)
6. On the second day, go back and make a lower offer on items that caught your eye. They can say no, so you got nothing to lose, but most people will go down a little at least!
7. Take a friend. Your friend can be your voice of reason on something you are hemming and hawing over, but also be that second set of eyes if you are looking for something in particular. A friend can also make the overall experience more fun because hello… shopping, eating, walking, brainstorming creative ways to use something…. all of these are not as fun when you fly it solo, I promise! If your friend isn’t available, take your child! I wouldn’t recommend taking more than one, but I took my daughter and we had a great time together. Did I have to spend more money on her than I was planning, just so she would stay cheerful? Absolutely. But it was worth it.
-The last 3 tips are specifically for vendors from a buyer’s perspective-
8. If you have a smallish booth, do not stand around in your booth unless it is behind some sort of counter. If it feels crowded, I (and most people) will not spend much time perusing. No one likes being watched like a hawk… and that is exactly how it feels when it is a small crowded booth where you have to maneuver around the booth owner.
9. PRICE EVERYTHING! Do not leave pieces without price tags. There were a few things in one booth that did not have prices. I asked how much the first item was but once I saw no tag on the second and third item, I just decided to walk away because I didn’t want to keep on asking how much things were. I also sorta assumed that no price tag means it was too expensive and they needed to give some sort of justification for the price. I’m a bottom-line type of gal and I think most people are that way as well. If the price isn’t clearly stated, I’m not that interested after all.
(Red Door Furniture Co)
10. Think about how you display your items. Don’t pile your stuff in disorganized chaos… this isn’t a rummage sale! You can have a lot of different things and even stacks of stuff, but if it looks TOO busy or TOO cluttered, or there is NO contrast or focal point, I get overwhelmed and just end up walking away, not really finding or having the desire to find anything I might want. Booths that have some pretty displays made me want to hang out longer because 1) I wanted to take a picture and 2) I spent time admiring items that I typically wouldn’t gravitate toward, but the display made me reconsider. Group like items together. This is also a point I’ve made in my “How to Sell Out” post for vendors.
Here are the rest of the images that caught my eye. Please leave a comment if you know the booth owner of a specific image, and I will edit to give credit to that business.
(4 Quarters Vintage)
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