Wednesday, November 30, 2011

One month down...

It's the last day of November.  The new booth opened on the first day of November.  So, with nearly a whole month under my belt, it's time to assess a little.

By the way, for those of you who are missing the detailed sales breakdowns I used to do for the other booth, don't worry.  They will return.  I even have this bizarre idea that I may actually catch up with them from the point where they dropped off.  I have the data, but the spreadsheets are on the laptop that's having issues right now.  It works, but there's a problem with the jack where the power cord plugs in, so it won't charge properly and I can't turn it on.  I'll be getting that fixed in December, so I can get my record-keeping back on track.

So, how am I doing at the new place?  Not that bad, actually.  Am I totally happy with it?  No, not totally.  Am I contradicting myself?  No, not really.

When I jumped into the whole re-sale business a couple of years ago, I kept my initial goals modest.  I wanted to make my booth rent, which I have done every month.  As my sales have grown over there, I have increased my expectations.

So, with the new space, I kept my goals modest as well.  I wanted to make my rent, first and foremost.  Then, I wanted to have sales every day.  And finally, I wanted those daily sales to be in the double digits.  Let's take a look at each of those individually.

Make the rent.  No prob with this one.  Rent was made within the first few days pretty easily.  This is a very important goal to me.  After paying out for the first month, I do not want to go back into my pocket for rent again.  The space needs to cover itself.  And it's doing that.

Sales every day.  Can't say we've met this one.  I don't think it's an unreasonable expectation, mind you.  In the past year, at my other site, I've had one day where I did not have any sales at all.  Since starting up in 2009, I've had probably less than ten overall.  Daily sales, regardless of the size, decrease the pressure to have a big, killer day to make ends meet.  And everything adds up in the end.

I had three days without sales in November.  While that doesn't seem like much, when you compare one in a year with three in a month, it feels like a lot.  I'm just not that used to it.  Still, I had sales for most of the month, something like 90%.  So, I'm happy with this (if not totally happy), so I consider it to be mostly met.

Double digit days.  Now, this is where it falls down.  I've had a lot of days where I didn't some close on this one.  Again, based on my experience in my other space, I don't think this is an unreasonable goal.  However, it's also not one that I meet every day there, either.  Although, I do come a lot closer.  I've had a lot of one and two dollar days at the new space.  While it's true that it all does add up in the end, I'd like to see that number go down considerably.

I'm grateful for each and every sale I get, mind you.  But several days in a row of low sales make me start doubting myself and my abilities.  I wasn't expecting to wrestle with this much self-doubt this month.  I have to call this one not met.

So with three primary goals, I have one met, one mostly met, and one not met.  Which makes me more happy than not, even though I'm not totally happy yet.  I do believe, however, that I am on the right track.  And, I see no reason to think that I won't eventually make all my goals.

Enough about the goals, what about the bottom line?  What am I going to be getting out of this?  Well, honestly, I'd like my monthly take to be about a hundred and fifty more than I'm going to get for this month.  Nevertheless, I am getting something for all my trouble, so I'm on the right track.  I think I can make this goal, I just wish it was something I had to grow into.  Again, color me happy, but not ecstatic.

So, the question now becomes why am I not meeting all my goals?  And the answer, unfortunately, is me.  I simply was not as equipped to deal with some of the challenges I'm facing as I thought.  I've got some learning and some work to do.  I'm not afraid of either, but how well I do them is going to determine how well I do with the booth overall.  Pretty much it boils down to three things:  furniture, layout, and stock.  Let's take a closer look at each of them.

Layout.  My booth is long (18.5 feet), but narrow (5.6 feet), which creates a special set of challenges for me.  And, I'm afraid I haven't met them very well.  I knew I didn't want to line both long sides with shelves, because that would create a long, dark alley that no one would enter.  So, I've tried to keep one long side more open with lower pieces and pieces with open backs.  I was thinking that people from outside could see in the booth and be drawn in from there.

Thing is, I didn't plan it very well and I still ended up with an alley, albeit a multi-level one.  There wasn't enough space for people to enter from the long side, so they didn't.  There's always been an opening along one short side, but I think people were either missing it or only going in a few steps, but not going all the way down.  I can kind of judge this by the items which sold and where they were located in the booth.

I'm planning to address this issue by removing a few things from along the side.

Furniture.  This is a real challenge for me, simply because I'm not used to selling it.  Add that to my space challenge, and you end up with quite a pickle.  Conventional wisdom is that re-selling furniture is where you make all your money.  I believe the reality is somewhat different.

It is true that you can make more money on a piece of furniture than you can a typical small.  (I say typical to leave out those rare, special, collector's item pieces that aren't likely to be a part of a standard re-seller booth.)  But, you also pay a lot more for furniture.  And, it usually doesn't sell for your initial price.  Buyers are much more inclined to expect to negotiate on furniture than anything else, even if it's already a bargain.  Add this to the fact that you are much less likely to sell a piece of furniture every day than you are a small, then throw in the number of times you have to mark the piece down to get it to move.  In then end, I'm much more in favor of volume smalls as a reliable, consistent money source, with furniture as the gravy.

And yet, in spite of that, I bought into the furniture line and built it into my booth expectations.  I thought I was keeping it modest by only expecting to sell a piece or two a week, but that inflated my expectations and took my focus off of keeping the booth stocked with lots of quality smalls.  The reality is that I need to be thinking in terms of about 3 or 4 pieces a month and be prepared to not sell any for a week or more.  Furniture needs to be my guest star, but not my headliner.

I think keeping this approach will also help with my booth layout issue and keep it more open and inviting.  I'm already working along this line. 

Stock  I took a long look at my space yesterday and realized that I just did not have enough stuff in it.  One of my worries about shifting from the kind of flea market-level vendors mall setting that I'm used to into a slightly more focused shop was clutter.  I keep my other spaces jam-packed with stuff because I can get away with it.  It sells regularly and fits the setting.  I didn't think that was going to work in the new store, particularly with my layout challenges. 

Problem is, I erred on the side of caution.  It dawned on me yesterday that I had restocked the day before, only sold two pieces since, and yet the space looked half empty!  Not good.  Fortunately, this one is easier to fix.  I've got plenty of stock on hand, so more is coming!

I still think opening in a new spot was the right move to make.  I'm very happy with the store overall.  I just need to focus myself a little more to get to where I want to be.  Let's give that a try and then see where I end up next month!


Sue (Vintage Rescue) said...

Eddie, I'm impressed that you do that much analysis. Of course, we're in different geographic areas, and have different kinds of items, but let me tell you that furniture is on a MAJOR downturn. I regularly have months that I sell none—and a friend of mine didn't for 8 months. Relying on your smalls, and your ability to swap out/rearrange your furniture.

And, at least for me, I always factor in the capriciousness of customers. You could be doing everything right, but a combination of weather/holidays/the economy could torpedo any intentions and goals.

Protector of Vintage said...

Very informative post!! I rent a "booth" that is basically 4 shelves plus a rack for linens, so I can't sell any furniture at all. I make my rent each month, but I always thought having some higher-priced items, i.e. furniture, would take stress off making rent.

Shara said...

Your goals are the same as mine. My new booth is doing great, my old booth - not so much. I always make rent and get a check, but the whole place has a different vibe to it and business is down. Thining I might ditch the old one and go whole hog on the new one. Neither one of my places let us know what we have sold, so I have to go there and look and peek in my drawer to see what's sold. I love it that you get emails. That would be great, so I would know what to replace or what holes need to be filled in. I'm headed to the old one today to throw out some vintage Christmas.

Lynn said...

Eddie, was good to read your analysis. When I did craft shows I did the same thing after each one so the next could be better.

Sounds to me like you have a handle on what will bring you more sales. One thing I did to make people stop and look was put something really eyecatching on my table - like a doll dressed in bright purple.

I didn't care if they bought it - I just wanted them to stop. Maybe you could do something like that for the far end of your long narrow booth?

Being new probably has something to do with your sales. I'm thinking as people get to know you're there, you'll have more traffic, too. and repeat customers!

Good luck

Lynn said...

(dang hit the wrong button) with it!