Monday, April 18, 2011

the wild west of selling

One of the things I like about owning a store is how unregulated it is. It's practically anarchy! Especially selling vintage and antique items. I can price them however I want. Okay (you may ask) how are prices set for antiques and vintage items? Well ...there are several factors go into that calculation. None of them precise.

The biggest factor is how rare is it? The rarer it is the higher the price. 

Then, what condition is it in? The better the condition, the higher the price.


Location-- Take an item. Put it in 3 different stores: my little store in the Catskills, an upscale suburban store and a Manhattan store. Something I sell for $35 could easily go for double that in the suburb and triple or even quadruple that in Manhattan. Of course their overhead is a lot higher than mine is and they have a lot more customers. (The village my store is in has a population of about 600 people and it's the biggest town for 20 miles in any direction.)

Geography-- Things that are hot in Los Angeles might be cool in Atlanta. My customers are buying for their farmhouses and cabins so what they are looking for is generally different than what someone who lives in a loft or ranch house might like. So if I loaded my store up with mid-century modern I'd probably be in trouble. fast do you want it to move? My philosophy has been to price on the low side 1) to make my customers happy and 2) to keep things fresh. However, that makes more work for me since I have to replace it with something.  And....what are comparable things in the same area being sold for? 

I find that price guides aren't much help. They are invariably too high for my location.  Sometimes I just ask myself what I would pay. Sometimes I just mark it some some percentage above what I paid and hope for the best. 

So the answer is, there is no answer. It's the Wild West--no rules.

What do you think about all this? 


  1. I'm so glad it's not me who has to decide - it's hard enough making up my mind what to have for breakfast. I hadn't thought so much about location affecting pricing before asides from whether it's an upper crust area or not. So much work must go into researching for pricing. I take my hat off to you for having the patience.


  2. Jen,
    I think your pricing strategy is right on. I think geography has a lot to do with what a item sells for, not necessarily what it should got for or what it's worth. It's only worth what your customers are willing to pay. What we would pay for something always was a consideration in how we priced our things but there are always those items you know people will pay more for. You can always lower your price but you can't mark them up. (Someone will always know)! So glad you stopped by!

  3. The thing I love about you is how knowledgeable you are when it comes to your shop and your items. You clearly investigate and know what will and won't sell....

    Take care,