Monday, September 29, 2014

Were You Born in a Barn?!

Remember hearing your parents say that when you left the [barn] door open? It's got nothing to do with this post, and even though I wasn't born in a barn, I lived in one for the past several days. Panoply just checked its first antiques show off its bucket list, and it was a barn sale. This is our review in a nutshell: we likened it to childbirth - you forget the pain once you deliver, until you go and do it again.  We want our friends to help us remember that pain if we ever decide to do this again.

What we lacked in sales (our success was moderate), we made up for in great new memories made, strengthening established friendships, striking up new friendships, and tucking a few lessons learned in our belts.
WELCOME vignette at the corner of our space at the barn sale - which sold in its entirety
Lesson #1:  Do a sale of this type with friends.  When everything else seems to be going wrong, at least you've got your friends. It's hectic loading in and breaking down - things break, things don't sell. As long as you have your friends, you have someone to commiserate with. If it weren't for my sisters, there'd be no Panoply.  If it weren't for our friends at the antique mall, we wouldn't have done this sale. If it weren't for a close family friend, we wouldn't have had ease in transport. We get by with a little lot of help from our friends.
Family and friends who were our neighbors at the barn
Lesson #2:  Everybody wants a good deal, and that includes sellers. We had some terrific stuff for sale, and we had lower than antique mall prices on our items, but this wasn't a flea market. We have a renewed respect for those people who sell in this type of venue (pop up events) as their norm. This is different from setting up in an established place, whether it's your home, an antique mall, or your own shop. The labor of packing, pricing, loading/unloading/loading again, and cleaning (we were in a barn!) leaves me wanting to pay it forward and consider this when negotiating in the future. Be fair.
Overview of our barn space after set up
Lesson #3:  When you have markdowns, do it with separate signage, not on your tags. We packed several smalls, and had a good display rack for those items,  Prior to the sale, we marked several items previously in our booth space down (on the tickets). On Day 2 of the sale, we marked some things down again. We learned by observing a well-respected couple who've been in this business a long time to make signs for the sale pricing instead. This way you can take your items back to your booth space and not have to start at the lowest marked price; otherwise, you'll need to make new tickets.
Display of smalls at the barn
Lesson #4:  Displays matter. We received many compliments from both dealers and shoppers on our displays, which drew people into our space. It's actually one of those self-actualization things in Maslow's hierarchy of motivational needs that completes us (Panoply). Yes, we love selling our items, and there's no denying for me, given that I am a business major, that I want a really good profit margin, but that is NOT what antiquing is about. I would never attempt or encourage anyone to make a living doing this type of business. We engage in this hobby because we love buying, finding old and unique things, styling displays with them, and selling the items to those who enjoy them as much as we do.
Panoply - the three sisters - in a seasonally, humorously styled vignette
Lesson #4: Be yourself, and don't try to be anything but yourself. Doing this event in the barn was a good lesson for me. While I was comfortable with being immersed in the atmosphere (I am a very casual in my style), I have to admit, I did not enjoy the dirt. As soon as we started unloading, I knew I was going to have to REclean every.single.item.that.came.home. I admit it, I am a little big-time OCD when it comes to things being clean, probably more than I realized. There was no escaping the dirt, even if we had put tarps down, as the center path would have tracked dirt - a very fine dirt - into our space. Thank goodness it was dry, and not muddy. We dressed accordingly, and everything is now clean again, and put back in either the booth space at the mall, or in storage.

Lesson #5:  You will, most likely, be hauling things back home, so be prepared. The photo below is our trailer, packed prior to the event.  We came home with a load that reached the edge of the first set of wheels (see photo below), or about half of what we took. Disappointing, yes.
Our trailer haul, prior to the sale. We came home with roughly half of what we took.
Lesson #6:  You can never have too much advertising, but you can certainly not have enough. When you commit to doing a sale, know the plan for how it will be advertised by those sponsoring the event. This event is in its third year, and our friends indicated the advertising in past years was not great by the sponsors, so we embarked on our own efforts, through Facebook, email lists of roughly 500 buyers, with cards at the antique mall, and word-of-mouth. It wasn't enough.

So, my friends, I am happy the pain of this delivery is behind me, and now I am behind.  I am behind in laundry, reading my favorite blogs, magazines, and books, and taking care of personal business. Thank you to all who have encouraged through comments on my Barn Sale Preview post, and I hope to catch up in the coming weeks, while taking a little break too. Just remind me, if I ever speak of doing something like this again, of the pain of delivery of this baby, okay?

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