How do Antique Booths Work? Your Guide to Start an Antique Booth Business

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 How do Antique Booths Work?

Are you looking to open your very own antique booth in an antique mall? It’s important to understand how antique booths work. Antique booths can be a great way to make extra income. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about antique booths and how they work.

Antique Malls Basics

Antique booth owners are required to pay a fixed monthly price for their leased booth space. Each antique mall prices its rental space differently, but it is typically priced per square foot. Most contracts start out on a 6-month basis.

After that 6 month period, you are a month-to-month lease rental with the antique mall.

Your antique booth will be assigned to a specific area within the mall. You are responsible for decorating, stocking, and maintaining your space within the mall. This includes any signage you may want to put up and other decorations that help draw customers to your booth.

Your antique mall will not only require a monthly price for your booth but also a percentage of each sale or commission. Many malls also require booth owners to be responsible for the credit card fee if a customer purchases one of the items from your booth with a credit card.

As a new antique booth owner, it is very important to read the fine details of your contract. Each and every antique mall is different and can require anything based on the needs of the antique mall owner.

Some examples of variations in contracts that I have seen or heard of include:

  • Requirements to work the front desk in the store
  • Requirements on how often you clean and restock your booth
  • Limitations on the types of items you may sell in your booth (Vintage only, no crafts or upcycled items, etc.)
  • Limitations on how you may price your items
  • Height restrictions
  • Code enforcement – such as fire safety codes
  • The requirement for the booth owner to have a Tax ID

These are just a few examples of things you need to look out for when signing an antique mall contract. It is always important to understand what you may and may not do before signing any agreement. The antique mall owner should take some time and walk you through the contract, bringing up any items that are especially unique or important for you to understand.

How to Find the Perfect Antique Mall for Your Booth

Before you rent or buy an antique booth, do your research! Visit many antique malls and flea markets to get a feel for the variety of booths available.

You’ll want to understand the types of booths, pricing structures, and terms/conditions offered by each vendor. We recommend examining booths in different locations as they may operate under different policies.

I spent a few days shopping at each antique mall in a small radius around my house. I knew that I would not be able to travel a long distance for my booth, so I kept it within 10 miles of my house.

I used my “vibe check” to see if I even liked being there. Some of the places just felt off to me, so I crossed those off my list.

If you get a chance to speak to current vendors, they will be the best resource. I also took into account the distance from the highway, local traffic, and the marketing that each store does. The stores that are actively on social media, maybe even running local ads will be the best options in my opinion.

Money Required to Rent an Antique Booth

When you first sign your contract with the antique mall, you will likely need to pay for the first month and last month’s rent. This is standard practice in the industry and most antique mall owners will require this payment up front.

Additionally, you may need to provide a security deposit depending on the terms of your agreement with most antique malls. The amount of money requested by the antique mall can vary from nothing at all to several hundred dollars.

Finally, you may be required to pay an application fee or fee for the contract.

It is important to plan accordingly for these costs when considering renting a booth in an antique mall. No one wants to be surprised by additional fees when signing their contract!

 

Your Booth Code

When you sign your agreement to rent an antique booth, you will need to decide on a short code. This code, which can usually be a mix of letters and numbers, will alert the front desk that the item being sold belongs to your booth.

This code allows for tracking sales from your booth. The mall owner can easily attribute a sale to you and know who is responsible for that particular item being sold.

Because of this, it is important to choose a short, easy-to-remember code when designing space in the antique mall. It should be something unique but still easily remembered by yourself and the front desk staff.

If you have a brand name or name for your booth in mind, try to continue the branding through your store code. For example, my booth name is “Nichols Dimes Store” and my code is DIMES.

Credit Card Fees

When an item is sold from your booth, the mall will typically take a commission or percentage of the sale. The mall owner usually requires that payment be processed through their credit card machine at the front desk. It is important to know who covers the credit card purchase processing fee – you, the customer, or the mall owner.

Personally, I am happy to cover the credit card fee as the booth owner. I have never heard of a mall owner covering the fee, and I feel it turns customers away when they have to cover the fee.

Not every customer pays via credit card, so it typically isn’t a very significant portion of my booth fees.

holiday shopping, smartphone, telephone
Making Rent

“Making Rent” is a common phrase among antique booth owners. When you first sign your contract, the other antique store or mall will likely collect the first and last month’s rent. At the end of your first month, you will need to pay for your second month. It is preferable for the sales from the current month to cover the next month’s rent.

Therefore, it’s nice to have “made rent” early, so you can keep all the proceeds from that month’s sales (after commissions and fees).

You Must Submit Pictures To Apply

When you are searching for the perfect antique mall for your booth, many times they require photos of your current booth. If this is your first time having a booth, what do you do?

In my case, I marked off a section of my living room that was approximately the same size and created a booth mockup. I wanted to sell vintage clothing, so I used a friend’s clothing rack and displayed some clothing. I only had a few other items to display but I did the best I could with what I had.

Submitting pictures is typical in the vintage booth industry, just let the mall owner know that this is your first booth and explain your vision for your vintage business as best you can.

In my case, the vintage clothing was rejected because clothing just wasn’t sold at the store at the time. That has changed, but now my booth is full of vintage and home decor items.

When you are searching for the perfect antique mall for your booth, many times they require photos of your current booth. If this is your first time having a booth, what do you do?

In my case, I marked off a section of my living room that was approximately the same size and created a booth mockup. I wanted to sell vintage clothing, so I used a friend’s clothing rack and displayed some clothing. I only had a few other items to display but I did the best I could with what I had.

Submitting pictures is typical in the vintage booth industry, just let the mall owner know that this is your first booth and explain your vision for your vintage business as best you can.

In my case, the vintage clothing was rejected because clothing just wasn’t sold at the store at the time. That has changed, but now my booth is full of vintage and home decor items.

Waiting List

The best antique malls will typically have a waiting list. I’m always a little suspicious of the malls that always have space available. That means that they have a high turnover rate and can’t keep booth owners.

Be patient and wait for your booth to become available. In the meantime, keep looking at other antique stores and malls just in case you decide it’s not worth the wait.

Antique Booth Hack:

If your preferred mall has a space available that may not be in the best location, consider taking the space anyway. Mall owners will typically ask current booth owners if they would be interested in moving or opening an additional location before opening a space to new booth owners who are on their waiting list.

Mall owners want to work with trusted booth owners. So, once you get a space, work hard at stocking and marketing your own booth there. Just keep your eyes and ears open for any potential new space so you can get to that perfect location.

Start Small

Once you find an antique mall that suits your needs, start small until you get a feel of how things work. Renting a booth is like starting any small business. Get your feet wet before you invest too much money or time in the venture.

The key to success is to stay organized and be mindful of how you are presenting yourself and your items. Clean, neat booths with lots of colors attract customers easily. I painted my walls a vibrant emerald! It really draws the eyes and makes the items in my booth pop.

Brand Your Booth

In my antique mall, there are over 200 vendors. So, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. Once a buyer finds your booth and falls in love with your inventory, you want them to remember you! You may decide to move your booth to a new location within the store, so make it easy for them to find you by creating a brand for your shop or booth.

All you have to do is come up with a fun, memorable name. Consider making a sign for your booth. In the beginning, I went to Hobby Lobby and bought a board and some letters. Boom, there was my sign. It was very easy to make and helped my booth stand out.

I used Canva to create a logo for my booth. This is a free platform and there are tons of logo templates available.

Here’s a picture of my very first booth in 2021!

Market Your Booth

Once you have decided on a booth name, it will be tempting to go to every social media platform and start a new page. However, I recommend starting with one, preferrable Facebook, at first.

Once you are comfortable with your growth on one platform, add one more. Running a new business is overwhelming, so it’s easier to start with just one social media platform in the beginning.

Why Facebook? Facebook still commands more traffic than Instagram or TikTok. In fact, it’s only third behind Google and YouTube. So, whether you like it or not, everyone is on Facebook! If you decide to pay for ads, Facebook is awesome at hyper-targeting people in your location who are interested in what you are selling.

flea market, junk, clock

 

Determine What You Want to Sell

Once you’ve identified which place you want your booth to be, it’s time to decide what you’ll sell. It is wise to ensure that you are selling antiques that the market wants, especially in terms of quality, design, and demand.

Don’t just focus on the value or rarity of the product but also think about the space you have and what fits well into it. Researching the current market trends can also help you make informed decisions.

Set Up Your Booth

Once you secure a booth, it’s time to set it up! To make your booth visually appealing and easy to navigate, it’s important to create a layout plan. Consider setting aside an entire day to rearrange your booth, clean the space, and prep your merchandise. Don’t forget to label your items and price them with clear, visible signage.

general store, shop, building

Maintain Your Booth and Inventory

An antique booth requires constant attention and maintenance. Be sure to keep your booth presentable and polished daily. Arrange it to attract more attention to your items. It is vital to keep track of what you sell and what you have in stock.

Regularly keeping track of the inventory will not only help with new purchases but will also help with booth maintenance.

Conclusion

Opening an antique booth may feel daunting, but understanding how they work will help you make informed decisions and ensure that you have a successful experience. With this step-by-step guide, we hope we were able to clarify any doubts you may have had. Take your time and enjoy the process of selling and collecting antiques!

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Crystal

Founder of Vintage Booth Pro and Vintage booth owner since 2021.

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