Saturday, November 10, 2012

Not giving up my day job

This fall my girlfriend Anne and I embarked on a new business.  We called ourselves The  Antique Annies.  Truth is we had lots of “stuff” we wanted to get rid of and so we decided to participate in a local antique show.

After we had done the clean out, we did our homework, making up an inventory of what we had to sell and visited antique stores to get an idea of prices.

So when the evening prior of the antique show rolled around, and we had to set up, we had our antiques priced, higher to allow for the negotiations, after all that is half the fun when you’re shopping for antiques.

I had arranged for a friend, who was a real antique dealer, to lend us a tent and when we looked at the weather, we were glad we’d been forward thinking, as it was pouring with rain, damp and cold.

And then we learned some classic lessons as novice dealers:

1.    Read the small print.  I hadn’t really checked out the actual size of the booth.  I had ordered two tables thinking that would be sufficient for what we had to sell, so you can imagine my surprise when we got there – we had 20 ft x 25 ft to fill – for those of you who are visual – that’s room for three SUVs to park next to each other and still room to spare.   

2.    Double check everything is in place.  Now I did phone my friend the night before to check on where and when we could collect the tent from him.  He’d forgotten and given the weather, needed the tent himself for his booth.

Now he did honour his commitment to us, and went off to purchase a tent for us but given it was the end of the season, there wasn’t much available, so he came back with a small postage stamp size tent that looked totally lost in our booth space and could really only keep the two of us dry – forget the antiques and furniture.

As we glanced around other dealers had almost marquee size tents on the lot, which just added to the humour of it all and further emphasized our novice status.

3.    Bring gloves.  Wearing gloves would have been a good idea – not just to keep your hands warm, but to protect them while you carry and move furniture. All day the sky would darken and threaten rain, and while it was damp and cold, it never did.  With all our space, we were actually able to park Anne’s SUV, so we would take turns sitting in the car so we could thaw out and get warm.

4.    The people you meet are interesting.  One story that comes to mind is the European woman who purchased my mother’s fur jacket.  She looked stunning in it – like a movie star and it was so cold, she walked off wearing it, thrilled with her purchase.

5.    People want a real deal.  There was not as much interest in the actual antiques we had to sell which surprised me.  The focus was much more on getting a bargain.  As a result, we ended up almost giving away some really good pieces as I was determined not to take them home again. 

I did cover my costs and made a small profit – so all told, it was worthwhile.  Would I do it again?  Not so sure.  I’d almost want a written guarantee that the weather would be fine.

But it was fun and is an eye opener into a world where I am usually on the other side, negotiating for a deal and maybe that’s where I will stay.

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