By Guest Blogger, Khris Rogers
I have always loved “junk”. Thrift shops have been my favorite shopping destination for as long as I can remember. I’ve bought, refurbished, upcycled, used, and re-donated these unwanted items my whole life. About a year ago, I decided that it was time to start making my hobby pay. I started by cleaning out all of the old items that I knew I would never use myself- the 70 year old baby romper that had been sitting in a box for 15 years, the leather motorcycle jacket that I had convinced my husband to buy back when we were dating, and the furniture that no longer fit. We hauled our junk out to the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena, and turned it into someone else’s treasure. From the proceeds of that first flea market, I started my business, Archaic Chic. One year later, I am now successfully selling antiques, vintage decor and upcycled items at two local shops. Smoketree Junction Antiques is in Pinon Hills, and Madam Bleu is in Murrieta. The initial financial input was minimal, and the satisfaction has been great.
Like most antique dealers, I am passionate about what I do. For me, this is the key. I buy and sell what I love, because that is what I am most knowledgeable about. I am a Treasure Broker, and I am searching for just the right home for my treasures. As a dealer, you can’t forget that the marketplace is constantly changing. There are trends in antique collecting and color popularity just like there is in fashion and home décor. It is important to me that I am aware of these trends, as well as fluctuations in pricing. This takes research. Luckily, this is a part of the job that I love. I watch many TV shows based around buying/selling of old items, as well as reading decorating magazines devoted to a vintage or eclectic style, and, of course, trade journals. The library system is also a great resource, as it is full of books about specific types of antiques, price guides, and information about how to refurbish items.
As a dealer, I make a point of trying to visit most of my local antique shops on a regular basis and meet as many of the owners/dealers as I can. Networking is important in any field, but especially one in which you are sometimes buying from, and selling to other dealers. Visiting local shops gives me a good idea of what else is out there, as well as allowing me to see how other dealers are displaying items, and their pricing. I shop often at my favorite local thrift stores, read Craigslist daily, and am a member of many local Facebook groups for people buying and selling items. I subscribe to an email list for local Estate Sales, and always carry my business cards with me to give out to new contacts. I spend time each morning managing ads on Craigslist and Facebook, as well as my Facebook business page. These internet resources are free, easy to use, and they have brought in a considerable amount of business to my shops.
There are many venues that you can take for selling vintage items in the High Desert. Most of the Antique stores in the area have a waiting list for vendors. If you’re interested at all in having a space at these shops, make sure that you get put on the list with your contact information. If you only have a few higher ticker items to sell, consider placing your items on consignment. Most local shops will take consignment pieces for a percentage of the sale price. This way, you do not have to pay space rent or maintain a space in the shop. You are out nothing if the piece doesn’t sell, and you can remove it at any time. Another avenue to use is the Internet. You can list your items on Craigslist and Facebook groups for free. You will have to deal directly with potential buyers, so make sure to list a contact source where you are readily available. Another way to sell is through local events- Farmer’s Markets, boutiques, fairs, etc. Several local cities have weekly markets through the summertime, and now is the perfect time to secure your space for the season. One last pathway to consider is to travel. Within a couple of hours driving time, there are several well known specialty antique flea markets that meet monthly, and many more smaller markets and one time shows. The cost of travel and more expensive booth prices is offset by the fact that you can often charge a premium price in these marketplaces. It’s something to consider.
Selling vintage and antique items in the high desert is more a labor of love than a means to wealth. That being said, it can be as lucrative as you want to make it. Specialize in an area that you love and are knowledgeable about. Do your research to make sure that you are keeping up with the trends and price fluctuations. Become a part of the local antiques community, both online and in person. Consider your options for selling- and make sure that you uphold your legal responsibilities (like obtaining a reseller’s permit from the State Board of Equalization, and filing sales tax). If you follow your passion and are consistent, you can make your hobby into a business.