Sunday, August 14, 2016

Please Pass the Gravy!

Booth sales are still in summer slump mode, but it's starting to pick up a bit.  I'm only running 1/3 to 1/2 less than what my daily totals should be, as opposed to last month's 1/2 to 2/3 less.  I'm trying to hang in there right now and not give anything up.  I really don't want to drop a space with fall right around the corner.  I don't think that slump times you know are going to be slump times are the time to make decisions like that.

Truth is my sales are almost exactly what they were this time last year.  I just have two more spaces, which makes a difference.  I had a huge growth spurt in March and April, so I'm expecting that to some back when fall hits into the holidays.

Right now, though, the mix just isn't right.

I look at my sales kind of like a plate of mashed potatoes and gravy.  You want to have the right amount of both so you can have a tasty meal.  I've always made most of my sales from small, lower-priced items, like five bucks and under.  It's the kind of thing that people come to a flea market to find.  Those are my potatoes, if you will.  I need a good-sized mound of them, white and fluffy.

Furniture and other large or higher-priced items are the gravy--that little extra treat on top that makes everything extra special.  You can have your taters without gravy and they'll be okay, but with it, they're fabulous.  You definitely want the tasty gravy.

Now, it's not hard and fast, but you need the right mix of the potatoes and gravy to have the right kind of sales totals--a nice mound of those small dollar sales, topped off with a bit of gravy.  On the really good days, I can look at my report and see the big items and the small ones complimenting each other to create a nice total.  Potatoes and gravy.  Mmmm!

On the off days, I can usually sum up the problem as not enough of one or the other.  It's treat to sell a 50 dollar piece of furniture, but if there are only a few smaller dollar items, then the total is going to be less than what it should be.  A huge ladle of gravy on a tiny dab of potatoes is still edible, but it just doesn't seem right.

On the other hand, a day with good small sales and little to no large action, can still fall short.  A big mound of potatoes with just a little dab of gravy is out of whack.  But on those days when you have super-strong small item sales, topped off with four or five good large items, you've hit the taters and gravy train!

Now, this is not to say that you can't go all the way to one extreme or the other.  I've definitely had some really high dollar sales days where the most expensive thing I sold was five bucks.  I just sold a ton of them.  It's a plate of just potatoes, but I'll take it.  You can take one look at me and pretty much tell that I've never passed up a plate of potatoes in my life.

I've not really had this sort of day, but it is totally possible to have a high dollar day of only high dollar items--a plate of gravy, as it were.  I'd certainly take it.  When I was growing up, my mother and my grandmother both would leave the gravy bowl on the table until all the other dishes were done.  They knew that someone (me) would be coming along to finish off the leftover gravy.  To this day, I love a bowl of cold, leftover gravy.  I know.  I'm weird.

For my experience, however, small items will sell every day.  You just have to get the right amount of them.  The big stuff sells in dribs and drabs.  That's why it's the gravy.  It's extra.  It's special.  There are a lot of vendors who primarily deal in furniture that I outsell all the time with nothing but smalls.

Obviously, this is my own model and thoughts, grown out of my own experiences.  Yours may very well vary.  They probably do.  Switch from a flea market mall to an antique mall, for instance, and the customer expectations change, so the experience and the mix changes.

The trick, which is always hard to pin down, is to figure out how to consistently get that mix right.  Right now, I'm eating enough taters, but way too little gravy.


Linda @ A La Carte said...

This made me hungry for mashed potatoes and gravy!!

Shara said...

This is a post for the ages. You crack me up. I sell a ton of potatoes at one booth and lots of gravy at another booth. At my new "try it out" booth, I seem to be selling potatoes and gravy.

I hate gravy, btw. Not gravy sales. But real gravy. Ick.

Donna Wilkes said...

If we are talking food analogies (and it seems we are!) I will take a huge juicy, still mooing New York strip steak with a fully loaded baked potato! Like this past week when a customer nagged me to death wanting a screen door I have had in one booth or another since 1998. Finally she had a cashier call to offer $100! There's my steak. On Friday I put out 14 Hardy Boys books from the 1960's that had never been opened. I mentioned them to a guy passing by, and he asked did I sell books. YES! I had to go find him a cart - he bought 30 books! It was my fully loaded baked potato. Weirdly our sales have remained at the high spring level for many of the dealers. This weekend (the last before school begins on Monday) is usually horrid. Even though it was a beautiful three days for the lake or beach, the mall was so packed, the manager had to call in extra cashiers.

Pam~ Virginia Retro said...

Too funny, and a great analogy. Right now I don't have a booth and I'm not consigning. You've kinda got me craving some potatoes and gravy...the booth type and the real thing. :)

Melissa said...

Your analogy is so SPOT ON with me, even being in antique malls. I was literally nodding along to everything you said. All so, so true for me. I've had an INCREDIBLE year so far. I have already sold more this year up to this point than I did my entire last year. But, unfortunately August is always slow, because of back to school. To combat the back to school blues, I always run a sale in August in September. To help move more "gravy" I set my sale as: 10% everything $49.99 and lower and 20% off $50+. I also go through the booths and mark down some higher priced items that have been sitting awhile.