Over the weekend we went to a pretty killer antique mall party. As killer as those can be, anyways ;) As a thrift addict/antique fan my whole life, I’ve certainly been to my share of these (warehouses divided up into 50+ “stalls” with each one paying rent to hawk their own goods), but this one took the cake.
Not only did they have an unlimited supply of coins and paintings and all kinds of stuff I’m super into at the moment, but everything was decorated around the holidays! And there was free food, drinks, candies, and more importantly COOKIES! WOO!!!! I made it my mission to test out every single offering within the 45 mins I was there, which turned out to be not such a good idea ;)
Anywho, a friend of ours had invited us out for this special “midnight jamboree” or whatever they called it (they were literally open until midnight, which is crazy cuz it’s an ANTIQUE store!) and I got to chatting with her about business and how the whole thing is set up in the background. You know, in case I ever follow suit with my own similar place one day ;) And I learned a $hit ton in the process:
First off, you pay rent – that’s it. I couldn’t get a hard number out from my friend as I didn’t want to pry *too* much, but she did say it was “expensive” – at least in her eyes… I should have asked the front desk on my way out but I ended up forgetting :( Anyways, the deal is you pretty much cram as much as you can into your stall, and your rent is based on the size and location of it. My guess is anywhere from $500-$1,500/mo, but I could be way off.
Secondly, it’s up to you if you want to “show up.” You can come in every single day if you want to, or you can never do it and have the people at the front desk check out your customers for you as they’re all given instructions and keys to your units (glass cases, drawers, etc). This is included in your rent, and every time I’ve check out places like these it’s pretty much always a ghost town. So I assume most dealers just stay at home or wherever, except to re-stock up – which is pretty important as you always need a good inventory to keep attracting your customers.
I asked my friend if she finds she gets more deals if she’s there vs. when she’s not, and she said that almost every single time she sells more being in her stall. Mainly ‘cuz you can chat w/ people and cut deals if you need to, and it’s especially great when you can relay stories on where the item’s been for the past 100 years or how you were able to procure them. Making the sale much more personal!
(On a side-note, you also learn things about the seller too – like how my friend’s whole outfit that night was bought off a dead person for like $15! Haha… Something her and her husband tend to do a lot because it’s easier to get a deal when the other party can’t negotiate ;) Freaky!)
Also, there’s a lot of theft. It doesn’t matter which malls you set up shop in either – they’re all prone to it :( There’s cameras everywhere, but when sellers aren’t there to guard their items, there will always be more opportunities for asshats to walk away with your goods. (I was also told there are lots of cliques among dealers too, proving once again that high school will never be over! Haha…)
Needless to say I was learning a lot. But the BIGGEST tip I received throughout our whole conversation that night was this… And it’s a biggie!
Anytime you buy something over $20 at an antique mall, ALWAYS ask for a 10% discount! You will get it!!
I had no idea you could even negotiate there! But apparently it’s some unwritten rule between all dealers, and is pretty widespread across the industry. How awesome is that?? I’ll have to block out all those previous shopping trips I’ve had before knowing this secret existed! Haha… and hopefully none of you are dealers are reading this right now and getting mad at me for letting it out of the bag ;)
The whole adventure that night was a riot. I loved it. And so does Baby Money as I’ve never seen him smile so much and coo at all the different things stuffed into that place :) I’m pretty sure he has major A.D.D. like his dad.
In the end I did not leave the mall empty handed though. Right as we were walking out the door I spotted a few items that I thought were coins originally, but the gentleman who was moving things around told me they happened to be old “tokens” instead. Like from old subways or transit buses, etc. I was somewhat intrigued by them just ‘cuz they were something different from what I’d been collecting over the past few months (one of them was from the DC area too!) and when I learned they were only a buck 50 each, I told the guy I’d take all 3.
He happily took them out of the case and told me I could get the “special” since he was in a good mood, giving me the whole lot for only $3 bucks :) Proving again that you DO make more deals when you’re physically in the store to greet your customers! And I walked away with a much better understanding of the items I bought as well, it was perfect.
Anyways, there you have it. A handful of tips for when you’re on either side of the transaction next time… Just don’t forget about that 10% discount one! It’s a helluva secret to know! :)
Photo credit: urbanwoodchuck