Wednesday, January 7, 2009

New Year's Resolutions for antique booth owners

I antique a lot. (Yes, a noun as a verb. I'm on the bandwagon. Sorry.) Most of the antique shops/stores around here in the greater Nashville area are what's called antique malls. They are large, although not always, spaces broken up into booths. Each booth is rented out by a different dealer and they fill the space with whatever they want. There is a booth rental fee and the store owner pays all the utilities and staffs the register. Most of you are probably familiar with the set-up, but I thought I would explain.

It's a great system IF you have a good eye. I shop a lot, though, and I keep up with the wares in various booths and the turnover and sometimes it's frequent. Booth rentals are generally not that high ($300 - $500 a month around here, depending on the size) and it's a great way for a stay-at-home mom or creative full time accountant to break out and make a little extra money doing what they love. Unfortunately, I sometimes think people think "I can do this" and jump when they shouldn't.

So here is my manifesto of things booth owners should keep in mind:

1. Painting it white: Simply painting something white and replacing the knobs will not enhance furniture's value. If it's cheap, it will only look like cheap painted furniture. Just because something is old, doesn't mean it's quality. I'm sure the booth owner in the first photo was going for "cottage" but that look is so over. If you have a hard time understanding when something is over, just ask yourself this question... are they knocking this off at Target? If the answer is "yes", then don't put it in your booth. I'm not even sure they are selling Rachel Ashwell's "cottage" line at Target any more, so that's more proof that the look is really really over. (Sidebar: I would be more interested in this piece if it was painted a high gloss pink.)

2. Fringe on a lamp shade: I'm totally baffled as to why an antique mall operator would allow a booth owner to sell this in an "antique mall", but go figure. Anyway... if you can buy it at Kirklands, don't put it in a booth.

3. Tapestries: These were machine made in massive quantities. Just because you saw it on Dynasty doesn't make it quality or in style. Stay away. And the quasi-Mediterranean feel is not a plus, it's a minus. Also stay away from anything "Tuscan". Yuck.

4. "Chippy": I wasn't crazy over this trend when it came out, but it's really over. Stop doing it.

5. Hideous oil paintings: These are painted in massive quantities in sweat shops abroad. There is nothing artistic about it. Just because you're selling an oil painting doesn't mean you are selling something valuable.

So in conclusion, an item isn't worth putting in your booth just because it's old or has the perception of value. There was lots of crappy furniture made in the 50's, 40's, 30's and before. At the moment you think "oooh... an oil painting. That's good, right? Maybe I'll buy it and put it in my booth" remember this and don't. Please be discerning and study. Read House Beautiful, Southern Accents, Domino, even Southern Living... anything current. Pay attention. I love the booth owner. It takes dedication and a sense of adventure to do what you do, but I want you to still be around a few months from now. Keep these tips in mind and maybe you will.


Pigtown-Design said...

agreed! when i was doing architectural salvage, we had a section for furnishings and we worked really hard not to have crap in the shop. we had unique things, but they had to have some sort of redeeming feature.

Anonymous said...

I hear what you are saying, but also, I think you are being a bit over critical. "To each his own". What you may not like and may regard as hideous, someone else may adore. And it takes only one person to make a sale.

eclecticentertaining said...

Perhaps I was a little harsh in a few of my assessments, but, as you said, "to each his own." This is my own opinion. I'm happy to post yours.
Thanks for the dialogue.

Anonymous said...

A few years ago, I might have agreed with you. Then I volunteered to work one day a week at the large mall where I was a vendor. I was totally shocked at some of the things that sold. I realized that each person is in a different place on the antiques/home decor trail. I didn't change what I was selling. . .but I did realize that the longer we are involved, the more critical our eye becomes, but that doesn't mean that everybody is in the same place. So there might very well be a market for the things that we wouldn't want.