Thursday, December 11, 2014

How NOT To Run Your Store!

I was on Facebook this evening, and like many days on there, I was quickly looking over a couple threads on a collectors page. 

What page, items, etc is not important in this case.  

The memory it triggered is the important thing.

Within this little story is a lesson that should resonate for all store owners, especially those of you in the "junk biz". 

Frankly, it doesn't matter if you run a second hand shop, thrift shop, antiques store, collectibles store, flea market booth, operate just a flea market table, run a perpetual garage sale, etc, any of these cases, PLEASE DO NOT be like the owners of the store I am about to describe!

* * * * * * * *

About 15 or so years ago, a fellow dealer and I were enroute to an antiques show a couple provinces over. We did a little buying along the way, stopping in at the odd shop we knew about or happened to come across.

We tended to looked through the yellow pages, brochures, etc for shops to potentially check out, while killing a little time after supper, sitting in the room at the hotels/motels we'd book into for the evenings.

Anyway, one place we  found, possibly in the yellow pages, we decided to check out.

We finally found the place, and when we walked in we had both thought:

 DAMN, this place is packed!

We have/had very different interests & specialities; John being into high-end glass, "true antiques", quality porcelain, sterling silver, Sheffield plate and that sort of traditional fare,  and I myself was into country antiques, nostalgia, toys, advertising, etc. 

Despite our divergent interests, there was some damn cool stuff within the scopes of both of our fields of interest; scattered all over, mixed in amongst mediocre stuff and a smattering of junky, shelf filler sort of fare.
Luckily, pretty much everything in the store was tagged. We hate when things are not priced.

But, there was one odd thing we quickly noticed about the tags.

They only had code numbers on them...not a price!

 We asked about a couple things each, and quickly realized why the place was packed, and still had cool stuff all over....

Every time we asked about the price of an item, relaying to them the number written on the tag, if we could even read it, (considering how faded, dusty, and smudged many of the tags were) the 3 owners of the store (all family, I think) huddled around a stack of semi-loose pages, all dog-eared, stuffed in a book/binder. Flipping through it, and finally selecting a page, presumably connected with the number we gave them, they whispered amongst themselves, furtively looking up at us during their conversation..  

Then, eventually after much whispering, page flipping, and glances in our direction, they would finally quote a price....

Which was easily 3 times what the item was worth....

After going through 3 or 4 of these agonizing episodes, some of which took 10 minutes or so, we looked at each other with eyes rolling and walked out. We have never gone back, and no one we know whom we have told the story to has ever darkened that store's doorstep, purposely, that is.

Now, does this sound like your shop? 

If so, I have some top notch advice you need to consider. 

You have a couple options on how to make money in this sort of scenario....because you sure as heck are not making a single dime right now. 

Option 1: Close and lock your doors. Then, go out and get a  9 to 5 job.

Option 2:  Go outside, tear down your store sign. Flip it over and with a can of spray paint, in big letters, write the following word:


 Then, underneath that, write:

Admission $1.00  

This way, you might actually make a buck.

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