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Hi.  I am new here and trying to get some advice on opening an antique/collectible mall.  I am not new to the business or to retail.  I have owned and operated a small "from scratch" cafe, and (2) antique/collectible shops in my hometown. 


My husband and I just closed our store at the end of the year.  We had decided to get out of the business all together.  But, after selling the remainder of our inventory and cleaning out the building, I am seeing a great opportunity to start with a clean palette in a new way.


Our town has been known for it's antique shops for the past 25 years.  We have lost a few and gained some along the way.  Our shop was totally our stuff.  And with the economy the way it is and my husband losing his job a few years ago, it has been tough putting anything new into the business.  We have a nice mall up the street from us and I have heard through the grapevine that there are people interested in renting the building we have rented for the past 11 years to add another mall and that there is a waiting list for spaces to rent.


We already have a clientele built up over the years.  And we all know that the more antique shops/malls you have in one town helps everybody.


Just looking for some input.  Or should we get out while we have the chance?



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Replies to This Discussion

As a person tuned into marketing and the current economy, one thing I can say is that 'synergism' is going to be the key to making it in this unstable global economy. Lone rangers will be farther and fewer because I believe it will take "networks" and "groups" to survive. This idea that you presented, just might be the way to gather that synergy with other dealers. Not saying it will make you overwhelmingly rich, but it could provide an income.

Our failing global economy may also provide a strong trend in vintage recycling - giving you a marketing niche that may have previously been viewed as an indulgent hobby.

My mother had an Antique Mall in Oklahoma that she enjoyed - making friends with all her vendors and learning from each one of them was a delight to her.

As a consumer, just make sure your vendors are conscientious and savvy sellers (not selling fake reproductions as the real thing!) so that your reputation will grow and be positive.

Wishing you the best in your decision!
Well, I placed an ad in our local paper advertising for vendors. It starts on Thursday and runs thru Sunday (which includes a couple more counties with the Sunday paper). Wasn't cheap but I figured it would be money well spent to see if there is an interest.

I have a lot of experience with reproductions. I feel that they have their place but, like you said, they need to be presented for what they are.

In my past retail experience I was very successful in presenting true antiques with new and reproductions - to get the look that the younger collectors are looking for without the cost. You know what I mean - starting with one or two family pieces or great finds and building that look within a budget.

My biggest problem lately is finding companies that have stayed true to the small retailers. It seems like it is harder and harder to find that "unique" look. My goal in the past was to not stock anything like you could walk into Wal-Mart and buy. Hard to do now.

Thanks for your input and I will keep you posted on what we decide to do.
You go girl! Don't discount Craiglist in your search.

We have a new mall to open soon and I found it on Craiglist. I'm hoping they have more to offer than the others. Perhaps a little more vendor orientated too. I appreciate a mall that has a stricter policy and adheres to it. As a customer I know what to always expect. If I want a flea market I don't go to an antique mall.

Do keep us posted!
As a former part owner of a large antique mall here in Maryland, I can tell you that the more antique shops in your area the better, location location, so important. So if there are antique shops already in your area, that's a great start. . Although times are not the best for antique malls, you can make yours a success. Promote your mall. That is the first key. And be sure your mall has a web page, that is most important. Most of our best customers were dealers / collectors from other states. When you open, and everyday after that , always make sure everyone is greeted at the door , welcome them, it's so important. Be sure your sign out front can be seen. Investing in advertising will make your mall a repeat success IF you have good vendors. I have seen many malls be a success, and decide to make their mall bigger, so they could get more vendors ( more booth rent ), only to fail. And the vendors that were supposed to be vintage antique vendors, are really flea market retail vendors that the mall owners had to accept because of shortage of good vendors. Start small to medium and stay with it for a while and you will find your mall to be the kind of mall that dealers ( honestly dealers are your best customers ) enjoy coming to. Have a nice spot with tables and chairs...get that coke machine and the water machine too...that is an income too. Deals and ideas are exchanged in a good mall at those tables. We owned Beaver Creek Antique Mall for over 24 years, so, you can take my advice to the bank. Be sure to have promotions, such as during the summer, if you have room, have an outdoor yard sale event...people love that...and the vendors inside will love it too...It draws a crowd because anything is sold at a yard sale, no rules...( and the yard sale people pay a small fee for the space in your lot ) Be sure to hire a food vendor , you know, hot dogs and that sort of thing. Go into this with the " I can do it " thought, and not only can you do it, but, you really can " put your mall on the map ". Make your mall the place to go...the meeting place where things really are brought and sold, and deals can be made. An exciting venture awaits you. , don't miss this great opportunity. Good wishes, Linda of RC Antiques on Ruby Lane
My 2 cents, whatever it's worth. Having over 30 years experience, FULL TIME, as a LIVING, in the antique and collectAble field. The KEY to Your Success, as a ANTIQUE & COLLECTABLE MALL OWNER, will be, First and Foremost, the Need to Realize that "your in business" Because of your dealers. Not the other way around. Which is the Biggest Cause of Demise in our industry.

Please keep in mind, it is NOT THE ECONOMY that Hurt our business!
It's a PROVEN FACT, that when the economy is good, our business is Good, and when it's not so good, our business Gets BETTER.

So STAY POSITIVE, Never Talk or Portray Negative to your cusomers. (should be #1 on the list of success)
The economy is only as bad as you think it is. Yes, there are things going on worldwide, but, it's NOTHING NEW. It's been happening since the begining of time. We NEED BAD ECONOMICS AS WELL AS GOOD. It's called BALANCE! So don't fall into it's trap!

There are Many Keys to operating a Successful ANTIQUE & COLLECTABLES MALL.
#1) Screen your dealers BEFORE you accept them. Make sure that they are in Fact, "Dealers". Meaning, they SELL. In other words, if a dealer has 75.00 on an item, and a customer comes in and offers 50.00, TAKE THE MONEY! As well ALL KNOW, this is an AVERAGING BUSINESS! You take the average of the Month's sales against your investments. Not per item.

#2) Make sure they aren't selling CRAP. Or things that there are No Interest in. Reproductions included. As a long time buyer, I would rather go in a Antique mall and see VERY LITTLE QUALITY Antiques or CollectAbles, then a Lot of Mexican or other Fake Reproductions. {I will say more on that in a blog I'm starting} I think it's Fine for dealers to be creative. I see some Wonderful Folk Art that dealers create. This is OK. Because it's NOT NEW, it's an Art Form. Oh, and FORGET THAT SMELLY STUFF that most malls use. I don't care if the shop/mall is giving away free stuff, I will NOT ENTER if they have that SMELLY STUFF, and you ladies know what I'm talking about. It's HEADACHE MATERIAL TO MOST OF US.

#3), As a mall owner, you NEED TO COMMUNICATE with your Dealers. This means CELL PHONES. All Dealers should be Required to have a way that the mall, you, can get in touch with them at ANY MOMENT your open for business.
If a customer wants a better deal, FORGET THAT 10% Crap. That is HISTORY. It's all about buying and selling, NOTHING MORE! "CALL YOUR DEALERS, even if it's for a 10.00 sale. And the Customer WILL THANK YOU, and of course, the WORD OF MOUTH to their friends.

#4) Which is MOST IMPORTANT, have KNOWLEDGEABLE Floor Help, Non Bias too. In other words, if a customer comes in looking for a Victorian chair, and they are looking at another dealer's chair, Make Sure you SELL THEM that Chair. Do NOT Lead them away to YOUR BOOTH, or another's, to sell them another, or Your chair. That is Unfair to your dealers.
Which takes me to another important point. You, the mall owner, should NEVER BE COMPETITION to your dealers.
Try NOT TO SELL the Same things that your dealers are offering. 5) And this is pretty Important too. Keep the Dealer's Overhead LOW. Do NOT CHARGE the dealer current or close to current rents or commissions. REMEMBER, your dealers are YOUR FOUNDATION. Without them, your Sunk! And dealers are your BEST SOURCE OF ADVERTISING. Word of mouth travels a LOT FASTER than Any website, newsprint ad, flyer, or any other form of advertising. So you need to keep your dealers HAPPY, at ALL COSTS. When you have Happy Dealers, you WILL SUCCEED.
#6) Make sure ALL your dealers come in an rotate, re-stock, take away merchandise. KEEP your shop FRESH at ALL TIMES! NEVER STALE. I've been into malls and shops, that I would stop in a year or more later, and EVERYTHING IS STILL THE SAME. And they wonder why things are bad. Again, I MUST STATE, it is NOT THE ECONOMY that is hurting our business. Not in the least bit. There are LOTS OF FOLKS WITH MONEY, and they are ALWAYS LOOKING to buy. These folks will ONLY BUY, if the Deal is Right, You HAVE WHAT THEY WANT, and the Seller is Honest.
Nobody wants REPRODUCTIONS anymore. That is one of the BIGGEST HURTS of our business. For instance, you have a customer, that just started to collect, say Roseville, and one of your dealers has a Roseville Vase. They buy it, take it home, look it up, and BAMM, it's a Knock-Off, WORTHLESS JUNK. Needless to say, you just Killed that customer's desire to collect. (Bad Mouthing begins) So WE ALL GET HURT. And this applies to ALL REPRODUCTIONS, No Matter what they are. Be it glass, toys, lamps etc. (even if you state it's a reproduction, it is NOT GOOD TO HAVE in your Mall or Shop) STAY CLEAR of REPRODUCTIOS AT ANY COST!
Again I Stress, NO REPRODUCTIONS!! I've seen Quality Dealers just up and move out of a mall, because of Reproductions. KEEP IT REAL. And of course, you will Need to Know the difference between a reproduction, new or created item.
I realize it's getting tougher and tougher to find good sellable inventory, but, QUALITY VS. QUANTITY.

I will have a Full Blog, just on this subject alone. As it is a NEED TO EDUCATE MALL OWNERS, SHOW and MARKET PROMOTERS Alike. They all Must Heed to Greed and Ignorance. Which is the DEMISE of our business. Greed and Ignorance.

Case in point, every year, I make the trek to Tennessee for the 127 yard sale. The year that gas Jumped over 4 bucks a gallon, everyone told me, DO NOT GO, Ecomomy is Bad, there will be NO BUSINESS, Nobody will be traveling. But, because I save all year for this event, I had to go. And guess what, WE SOLD OUT OUR VERY FIRST DAY. The heat index was 100 plus, gas was well over 4 bucks/gallon, and the media CRIED, BAD ECONOMY. Yah Right!
There were THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF SELLERS, and that Many More Buyers. WHY?? Because at 10.00-12.00 per day for a Dealer to set up and sell, it's doesn't hurt or detour the sellers from coming. CHEAP RENT FOR SELLERS, and now sellers CAN SELL. Not having to be concerned over getting the last dollar, because the Mall/Shop or Market Owner thinks the way they make their money is off of the dealers. NOT SO. You do NOT need to make your money off of the dealers to Succeed. Business will COME, if your Right with EVERYONE!

Like I said, there will be more said on this very subject. Because again, It is NOT THE ECONOMY that is Hurting our business. It is the GREED and IGNORANCE of those that promote, and those Unscrupulous Dealers. Of course, as always, you must keep TRENDS in Mind. This business is ALL ABOUT TRENDS!!!! Even in the Back in the Day, Trends decided what is sellable and what isn't, at that particular time.
It's up and it's down. Always has been, and Always will be. Just be Savvy!

Bet the 127 sale will be it's BEST THIS YEAR!



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