Eye-opening Antique Mall Experience

Posted by Rossi Kelton on

This past month I learned a very important lesson. I learned to be humble, take constructive criticism and to work on improving my artistic technique. I had a very eye-opening experience which I will like to write about. I learned a lot from a couple of mistakes. To begin my story, I must go back in time to March 2019.  I have children and one suggested that I go with her to a new place to look at many different antiques, etc. I was excited to go to a new place to see new things. I went with my daughter to this new antique mall which was located near my house and which I had not an idea that it even existed. We drove together to this area and I noticed that there was an officer directing traffic in and out of this area due to the high volume of traffic. I was very excited because I sell my fine art original paintings online through various venues and I am always looking for new sources of exposure, etc. I went with the idea that I would have an opportunity to see a lot of new craft vendors, such as myself, trying to sell their creations. We payed $3.00 per person to come in and buy as much as you will like. It was called the Lakewood 400 Antique market and it was full of people. This was on a Saturday morning and I thought this was a great opportunity to see other crafters and meet new vendors. I was walking around, and I talked to a couple of vendors who were very nice. Everybody was very friendly, and I felt very welcome.

As you can guess, I saw this as a new venue to try to sell my fine art creations. First, I have no idea if the antique market is a good place to sell my art. I noticed that various fine artists were there, and I spoke to them.  I also noticed all the foot traffic in the month of March. I did not realize the selling cycle for the antique market niche. The winter months, are more profitable because people get in a rush to buy for Christmas and they start in September. This continues during the fall months culminating in the month of December. The traffic I saw during March was normal for an after-Christmas spending money time.  I proceeded, without any careful planning or analysis of the antique market, to sign up for a future temporary booth. I learned from other vendors that after the Summer of 2019, it seems that this will change, and only permanent booths are going to be available. I was not aware of this fact either. Anyway, I went and signed up for a future temporary booth in an upcoming month. The sales run only once monthly. I talked to some vendors who suggested that I try other venues also and suggested a temporary situation to test the waters. Some of them were complaining that the foot traffic was slow.

I was contacted and issued a booth in April. I had to cancel this because the show opened the same weekend that Easter was happening, and many people leave town, travel to visit relatives, etc. I decided to try it again in May 2019. I really should have done some research on the antique market before I signed up again for a May 2019 commitment.  First, I did do research about the market and learned that some vendors even take off during the summer months (or late Spring) due to low attendance and foot traffic. I still decided that I could give it a try anyway. Did I learn my lesson? Yes, I did. I unfortunately ended going in to this adventure during a time in the year when the venue is hot, there is little climate control although we do have air conditioning inside. To top this mistake, it was not well attended due to people leaving town, etc. I learned that Fine Art and Antiques are not compatible markets, unless you are selling in the secondary Fine Art market. This means that you are selling Fine Art from established artists that are probably deceased and their work does maintain a certain price range that is profitable. If you are a beginning fine artist, the antique market crowd is not for you. Mostly, if you are selling original oil or acrylic paintings and no prints.  I did learn a couple of things from this experience. First, I talked to other Fine Artists including some that have their own galleries. I learned that a Fine Art show is more appropriate for a beginning artist. I did talk to one vendor that was selling but they were small works, and everything was framed. Their paintings also were in a permanent booth and they were going to work on getting better lighting. It seems that if you do attend a show as a vendor, you need to provide your lighting, such as lamps, recessed lighting, etc. Since this was my first experience on any commercial mall show, I did not know if they provided electricity, lights, etc. I learned that the only think they provided was a space with nothing else. I also learned from other artists that show their work in Fine Art shows that some events require that you invest in your own tent. Outdoor events, which I did not want to go to due to weather issues, also provide just the space and you are responsible for your own tent. I also learned that the secondary Fine art market was more profitable, since they did sell 7 Kincaid paintings (which I really did not care about) but it was informative. Hence, I learned to work in series, work all in similar subjects and don’t sell your art in an antique booth or mall. It doesn’t move as fast as a small Fine Art show. I even saw people buying all kinds of “treasures” (junk) but nobody was buying anything from me. I even saw one person carrying a piece of wood that they bought at the antique show. Maybe it was antique wood? Still do not waste your money setting up your Fine Art in an Antique Mall or strip mall for sale. Do not pay rent for such an endeavor because you are throwing your money away. The people that came to buy antiques were not interested in anything new or any Fine Art that looked expensive to them. Maybe they like to purchase prints that are less expensive than original Fine Art work.

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