February 28, 2013

"What Sells And What Doesn't: Antiques Mall In California"

Hi there.  My name is Little Miss Maggie, and Carol has asked me to do a guest post on her wonderful blog on the topic of "What sells and what doesn't"  

This is my first guest post, and I'm very excited to be here.

I have been a dealer of vintage and antique items for the last 11 years and sold in at least six different shops.  Right now I'm a dealer in a beautiful store called Aubergine Emporium, in Simi Valley, California, which is a suburb of Los Angeles.  I have included some photos of my space and a couple others in our shop that I think make great use of the space in our store.

I'll start off with what sells first.  Let's call this the good news portion.

Farm tables, large and small, are great sellers.  In fact, so is the whole "farm house" look.

Cabinets with cubbies and drawers.  They can be metal or wood, large or small, but they are great for storage and can add a lot to home decor.

Vintage scales, skeleton keys, bird cages, vintage jewelry, vintage frames and small colored kitchen utensils.  We also get weekly requests for blue ball jars, and colored depression glass is making a big comeback.  Vintage suitcases are still great sellers, but mostly the flat kind so they can be stacked one on top of the other.  The slanted luggage is a harder sell.

Buffets are a hot seller right now because people like to put their big screen TVs on them.

Tall night tables, not short ones.  Furniture is taller now and short furniture is not in.  Benches and settees always sell, and these can be large or small as well.

Architectural items are always popular.  This can include vintage door knobs and hardware.  Pairs of peely paint doors are in hot demand, but the single old doors are cooling off a bit.

Now for the bad news portion, what doesn't sell in my neck of the woods.

I told you farm house is hot, but shabby chic is not.  Anything with pink roses does not seem to sell and that includes china and upholstery.  China is pretty much out unless it's red and white transfer ware.  Cups and saucers do not sell unless it's Mother's Day, and then they must be marked pretty much under $10 for the set.

Industrial is cooling off very quickly and that especially applies to lighting.

Victorian furniture is not in right now, but Craftsman is still good because of its simple lines.

Oak furniture (unless it's Craftsman style) almost always has to be painted.  It will not move in our store.  This also applies to traditional style furniture.

Upholstery with busy prints is not a good seller either.  Plain is in.

Mirrors are not great sellers, but their frames are.  Framed art is not selling either and I love it so the one piece I have is relegated to my top shelf.

Old windows are not selling and man cave items are really not in demand anymore.

Pink (unless it's Depression glass) on anything does not sell in our shop nor do clear glass items.

 Now here is what I call the "tweeners." 

Gray is hit or miss.  It really hasn't made it big here.  Safe colors for us are white, black or red.

Silver tends to be very seasonal.  Garden items sell obviously in the spring, but not so much the rest of the year, and last year even the vintage garden furniture was not a big seller.  Maybe because the newer styles are so much more comfy.

Vintage linens including quilts are making a strong comeback.  Quilts have not been popular for years, but now they are starting to be asked for.

Now comes the advice section of this post.  

If you will notice my photos, we use every bit of wall space we can.  If our walls don't look like Swiss cheese after a few months, we are not using our real estate wisely.  My space has two upper shelves and I also have a hanging swing I use for a shelf.  Everywhere the eye can see there is something to take in.  I can also hang items from my upper shelves.  We also stack our furniture to free up floor space for more inventory.  My only advice here is that everything needs to be organized so it can be clearly seen.  Don't make it look like a storage locker where things are just shoved in.  Keep your space clean and inviting and visit it often.  I spend at least three hours a week in my space rearranging, fluffing and cleaning.  Bring in new items weekly.  If you can't find anything to bring in that week, use your time to clean, rearrange and try to regroup what you have so it looks new and fresh.  If you don't spend time in your space, no one else will want to either.  This applies to regular customers who come in weekly.  If they think they have seen everything you have to offer, they won't spend time in your space looking for the latest and greatest.

Keep a good variety of smalls as well as large items.  In fact, if you keep a good variety of items in your space, you should keep a good variety of customers coming back for more, and this also applies to price points.  I try to keep a lot of things in the under $20 range.  Yes, I have some really expensive items, but I want people to feel welcome in my space so I try to appeal to a lot of different tastes and budgets. 

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Thanks, Carol, for inviting me to take part in your wonderful series "What Sells and What Doesn't".  It has been an honor and a privilege to be here today.

Hi, It's me Carol....Maggie, thank you...Oh my gosh, you are a wealth of knowledge!  So many Great tips!  Your booth and the shop you sell in are gorgeous!  Please visit Maggie at Little Miss Maggie she has so many creative ideas and freely shares tutorials on her transformations!  

 If you have missed any of my guest bloggers they are all listed under the tab at the top of my blog titled "Selling Antiques"


Shabby chic Sandy said...

Great post--I buy everything I see that is pink (at least it really attracts me) and I do like the farm style now too. Very interesting--every area is different! I agree that plain fabric is really in--I like plain now too!

Melanie said...

Things are so different here in Australia. Pink is quite popular but French country seems to be heavily imbeded in every decorating store. I am forever looking for florals and prints because everything is so plain. I love your post and thank you for the great tips !

Debbie said...

I nearly forgot what I wanted to say when I got to the end and saw those wonderful chairs! I love those and am going to head to your blog to see if I can find a post on them.

I'm actually a little thrilled that dishware is not selling because it might mean that I can get some without others snatching it up.

I really need to head to my antique mall ASAP. Your booth inspires me.

NanaDiana said...

Thanks, Maggie and Carol. Once again-this s one of my favorite features in blogland- xo Diana

Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

What a great space Maggie has! I love that it looks like it is easy to move around in, too. I hate when booths are so crowded with stuff that I'm afraid I'm going to knock something over. Love the variety, too. Interesting to read what is hot and what is not in the area.

Jane said...

Carol, this is such a great series!! I love reading about what is "hot" in other areas. I used to live in Simi Valley.....my next visit back will certainly include a visit to Maggie's booth!!

Betsy@My Salvaged Treasures said...

Love this post Carol and Maggie. So many of the same things are hot up here too. I'm long overdue for a trip down to Southern California. My "must see" shops list is getting longer and longer. Your space is full of so many fun treasures.

Holly- Cutie Pie Cottage said...

Thanks for your wonderful input Maggie! And thank you Carol for this fun feature! ♥

Connie said...

This is a marvelous post. I really enjoyed taking this little tour through your enchanting booth. Thank you for all the great information. beautiful!!!
Connie :)

Unknown said...

Another great post! I love the comment about how your walls should look like Swiss cheese, otherwise you are not doing it right :-)

Gail said...

Thank you Carol for this wonderful series and Thanks you Maggie for sharing your beautiful space with all of us. Hope you have a wonderful weekend, Gail

Diane said...

Very interesting info! Thanks for posting!

Stacy's Shabby Shoppe said...

Super interesting post! I love seeing the regional differences in buying and selling. Framed prints are definitely out where I live (Utah), but I still buy them! LOL! China is dead, dead, dead, unless it's something so utterly fabulous that one has to have it! Glad to hear that depression glass is making a comeback. I love it and have several pieces coming up for sale (pink!) so hopefully it will sell! Thanks for the informative post! xo

Sissie's Shabby Cottage said...

Hi Carol,
Wow, oh wow, her shop is wonderful.


Createology said...

Little Miss Maggie your booth is a delight to the senses. Thank you for sharing your selling insight. Carol I adore this series so much. Thank you for hostessing this. Creative Hearts are Happy Hearts...

Connie said...

Hi Carol, I'm back . . . In regard to the comment you left on my whimsical doll post:
I had a lot of fun making it and now I'm making another, only it actually looks like a girl. I will post photos of it at a later date. I'm making it for my granddaughter's 7th birthday. Thank for you your greatly appreciated encouragement. I have been brain storming to find items that I could sell in an on-line shop. Items that would be easy to send through the mail, without danger of breaking, and foremost, fun to make :) Dolls might be the answer . . . I really don't know "!?#@*&%?!4? " Then again my life is busy with many things and it seems like Spring through Fall is a whirlwind. I might be crazy to even be thinking this way, but when you enjoy creating . . . you have to have something to do with the items you make. I'm so blessed . . . what a problem to have, right. Millions of people would die for my piddly little problem. God forgive me for even calling it a problem. If you have actually stayed long enough to read all of this . . . thanks for being such a sweet friend. Your blogging sister, Connie :)

Heart Vintage Design said...

What a great post. Certainly the LA look is different than the Florida trends [and even we vary by the part of the state] and how fun to see the beautiful staging of your shop.

Vickie @ Ranger 911 said...

It was fun to read this post! Living up north in MN, we see some different trends, but Maggie's hot sellers seem to be what sells fast here, too. She's got a fabulous spot in the shop and I'd love to visit if I lived closer!

miss flibbertigibbet said...

I am so happy to see that Maggie hosted today! I was going to suggest her as a host when I saw the series start! Too funny! What a great post! Maggie certainly knows her stuff and her booth is wonderful! As a new fish in the water, it is wonderful to get all this advice...FOR FREE!!! Thanks Carol!

Unknown said...

It is interesting to see what sells in one part of the country or world does not work somewhere else....love these posts!


Ann said...

Thanks Maggie for taking time to share your expertise with us. You're tips are right on about working one's booth to increase sales. I always find regional sales interesting. Thanks Carol for this weekly post I find it very inspriational.

Celestina Marie said...

Hi Carol,
Oh I just love Maggie's feature. The mall and the pics she shares is so inviting. I could do a lot of shopping here. And, I would need a boat load of money. LOL

Maggie shares the best knowledge and ideas. Wonderful feature.
Once again this series is fantastic.

Hugs, Celestina Marie

Bliss said...

Good choice Carol, Maggie knows her schmidt!


Sisters Treasures said...

Wow, Maggie, what a great guest blog and thank you, Carol again for hosting this series.
Maggie, your booth is "to die for" gorgeous and your info on what sells and what doesn't is equally insightful. I've loved reading what sells in different parts of the country in comparison to my part of Texas.
Thanks again to both of you,


Pam@OurAdventuresInHomeImprovement said...

Great post by Maggie! Her booth looks fabulous and I love that she gave so much great information!
I can't wait for our next trip to the area to see her booth in person.

Great series Carol!


annieg said...

As a Californian, I found this blog particularly interesting. We have a very eclectic home and it sounds as if Maggie is aware of the mix and match mentalities of most Californians. We don't have a particular style; rather, we kind of throw things together and hope for the best! We have a certain 'feel' in mind rather than a color scheme. I love her booth because of her blend of colors and styles and find her use of every inch, from top to bottom, very appealing. GOOD POST!! Great idea for doing this series, Carol.

Bluebirdbasketry said...


I love this series not only for the helpful information but also for the wonderful blogs and bloggers you are featuring. What a gorgeous space and really practical info.


Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

Great looking booth and lots of great advice!

Chenille Cottage said...

Thank you Carol and Maggie for the helpful advice on what sells. I guess I have learned to hold onto things and just paint them. I have a huge round oak table with a heavy pedestal. I'd love to paint it and I know my poor husband would probably have a heart attack if I did.
Blessings and thanks,
Carolynn xoxo

hopeandjoyhome said...

Great post! I was just in my booths this week marking down, taking out and bringing in and re-arranging which I do weekly. I am in a hometown mall and I do pretty well.Not to sound snooty but I get discouraged by some of the other booths in the mall I'm in..things that have been there for YEARS with no markdowns, dust, faded tags(a sure fire sign it is overpriced)I do NOT understand it..some of those vendors I have never seen in there..ever! I don't know if it is good to be a good booth in a not so hot mall or a good booth in a better mall..I fear the latter! FAB booths! I need inspiration for some shows I have coming up soon!

Debbie-Dabble Blog and A Debbie-Dabble Christmas said...

Beautiful shop and beautiful post!!

Carol, thatks for always stopping by!


Cozy Thyme Cottage said...

Just looked at your FL home tour and loved it! Decorated so beautifully! Love the $1 picture, and kitty, Martin. Altho I am a dog lover kitties would be my second choice! Love going to Farmers Markets. Just wish I had half your talent! Thanks for sharing! Nancy

GardenOfDaisies said...

It's so interesting to hear what shop owners have to say about what sells. I guess I don't keep up with the "trends" very well. I liked many of the things she said did not sell well.

Annie Jeffries said...

I'm opening my first space next week. I read your advise section just in time.

the*pink*princess said...

love your post,great booth!!! Lots of beautiful items!

Micheal Alexander said...

Very informative and impressive post you have written, this is quite interesting and i have went through it completely, an upgraded information is shared, keep sharing such valuable information. Antiques in California