Too many antique shop owners, especially live store front owners are not treating their business as a true money making business. I get the impression that the attitude is "if we build it they will come" in a sense this is true but do you just want to get by or do you REALLY LOVE what you are doing and want to make it a success, you will be the expert, the go to shop for all that is antique and collectible.
I opt for the go to shop owner myself and that is why I have been successful in my chosen field as an antique dealer for over 25 years. I am not wealthy by any means but I love sharing my knowledge and sharing my wonderful finds.
Ok, down to business. First read the WorthPoint.com articles, you will find Part 1 in a previous post and as I said Part 2 is coming soon.
You have to jump on the social network bandwagon by creating at the very minimum a Facebook page for your business. This is free to do and the only time money enters in to it is if you decide to create an 'ad', which from what I have seen and heard is not worth the money. There is very little ROI or Return on Investment.
You put hour upon hour in to your store front. Your displays are stunning from the street, you have quality merchandise and great prices but people are just not buying the wonderful wares that you have and the traffic count is low. Here are several things you can turn a critical eye to;
- Does your shop look cluttered? If a customer feels overwhelmed by eye candy when they walk in your store they will leave without making a purchase.
- Is everything clean and dusted? No one likes to pick up a beautiful piece of depression glass that feels dirty and has a layer of dust covering it.
- Are your prices as low as they can be? Yes, we all want to get the most money that we can from our merchandise but you have to take in to consideration the current economy. Face it, we sell items that people can live without. People buy what we sell because they love owning these pieces so make it affordable for them to do so.
- You just don’t know what the problem is? Step outside for a few minutes then walk back in to the shop and sniff. To be honest, people are turned off by smells both good and bad so if your shop smells dusty, musty, old or overwhelmingly of flowers because of the candle you are burning. Take care of the problem then get your favorite furniture oil out and clean all the wood, that is what people enjoy smelling when they walk in to an antique shop.
- What are your customer service skills? You need to greet every single person who walks in your door and thank every person who leaves. Ask if you can help them find something special. Don’t hover but be sure to check on them as they go throughout the shop and ask to take their purchases to the counter. Get them on your mailing list and hand them the brochure you made showing the monthly calendar of events. Remember the magic words – Please, Thank You and Come Back.
- Is your shop well lit with accent lighting on important pieces? You do not want to have dark corners. Tuck inexpensive thrift store purchased gooseneck desk lamps in among your displays and have them aimed at the expensive items. Put your colored glass ware in front of a window or other lighted source (you really have to dust now) so that people can see the beauty of the colors.
- Do the 2 or 3 colors (no more than that) that you have used in your design look good together?
- Can a customer easily navigate your website? Use breadcrumbs at the top and bottom and make sure that your navigation links are visible on all pages.
- Can a customer see a large image of an item? You need to have a large detailed photo of each item so that a customer can get a good look at what they are interested in.
- Details in the descriptions? You have to be the eyes of the customer, describe everything on the items, give dimensions and if there are any defects be sure to include them. Describe the colors and any designs. Pattern names are very important so if you don't know the pattern name please look it up.
- When you ship an item clean it up first. Once again no one wants icky dirty stuff. Your reputation on the details can make or break your business.
Online, you can display holiday items year 'round with a 'Holiday Category.' Then feature items on your home page as the holiday gets near.
I was actually pretty upset on a recent shopping trip to a very well known store in a town near me, the birthplace of Amelia Earhart. I thought that I was going to see unusual, unique, amazingly wonderful items but I walked in to a Halloween store. All the really neat items that are so often shown in this particular shop ads and articles in the local newspaper were no where to be found AND there was absolutely no sale area for the Spring and Summer items. Customer lost.
I welcome your questions on marketing your business and will be answering those questions in a future post.
Let your passion show others will see it and draw from it.