Whew – today was a work day for sure. This is the second day of NAN (North American Nationals model horse show) so we use the day to get ready for the rest of the week. Morning came too early after a late night as is the custom at Breyerfest. Here is a snapshot of what we do to get ready for room sales.
For the sake of brevity I will start with packing the car. We have a Honda Pilot, because it has the largest cargo room in its class. We get the gas milage of a reasonable mid-size SUV, and enough room to pack at least 21 Office Depot sized boxes. Of course not everything fits neatly in one of these size boxes, and many items have their own boxes to complicate packing the car. I try to give room to see out the back mirror, but that room goes away quickly.
We finally arrive at the hotel, and are presented with a blank canvas. The one thing I would like to bring but never make room for is better lighting. Hotel room lighting is barely adequate for general use, and very poor for selling items. Customers want to see details, and accent lighting can help feature items and encourage sales. Shelving and table space is at a premium. I have a great set of shelves I bought many years ago that are lightweight and I can pack things in the spaces between the shelves. Again for space constraints that is the only set I bring, my other ‘shelving’ is the boxes I brought stuff in turned on their sides. The hotel we stay at is wonderful at accomodating our crazy needs, but you cannot ask furniture to be removed. You may move it around as you like, and especially in rooms with queen beds this can increase your space dramatically if you turn them length-wise to the wall. Our room is the king special so moving the bed does not improve matters much. I do move the desk and TV away from the door to allow people to move more easily and make more room for shelves at the entrance to the room.
All those boxes, shelves and supplies must then be brought into the room. This year we are lucky the weather is great, in the mid-80s and moderate humidity. I have done the unpacking in rain, wind, and 100 degrees with 100 percent humidity as well. Those years are a bit tough. The best years are the ones we arrive early and can secure a luggage cart. Those will disappear quickly and it isn’t easy to move all the boxes and bags by carrying them individually!
Mass chaos ensues as it appears there is more stuff in the room than can ever be unpacked. I start with a general plan and then have to be flexible as items are unpacked and there are more, large and unwieldy items than you remember. Plan for people to get in and out of the room and have space to look at stuff and have 2 people be able to pass each other. Customers have bags and purses so be mindful of breakables. Have the easily seen items from the hallway be interesting to draw people in to the room. I like to have space to sit and chat, but that isn’t happening this year! Oh, and shelves can be jostled, so put easy-tipping items on bottom shelves. Also, long or large items need their space. I don’t like to stack stuff, so the bed space gets eaten up quickly with large boxes, puzzles, books and the like. Tired yet? I sure am!
Finally we see a nicely set-up room with most things in a good spot. I will continue to move stuff around as items sell and holes get to be filled, but this is a good start. I had to use a lot more boxes for shelving as I brought a lot more to sell than I thought I did! There are also box lids on the floor with sturdy, small models and some in the doorway where I prefer not to put stuff as it narrows the entry. Again, as stuff sells I will take that box away and move those models in the room more. Breakables are mainly on the TV stand, but more sturdy ones are on the makeshift-shelving as well. I took the lampshades off the lamps to make the room brighter and during the day the curtains are open to allow more light into the room. The desk we keep as a working space for cleaning, pricing and a general catch-all space for notes and snacks. Mom will do some decorations around the door to make it look nice, and we always bring a doorstop to keep the door open without tripping people.
Finally the fun part – selling! We keep the radio on a pleasant music channel and keep the TV off. I don’t like to feel like I am intruding on someone when I walk into a room, so I want my room to be inviting to keep people shopping. We keep it a bit cold, which most appreciate as some rooms can be stifling hot, especially when you get a lot of people in there. Our room isn’t bad smelling, but we do have a candle to overcome the musty, moldy smell of the humidity and air conditioning. This year I didn’t get everything priced in advance, and that was a big mistake on my part. When it is busy it is hard to have a conversation and price things for many people at the same time.
Next time you are at an antique show or flea market and bargaining with a dealer keep this blog in mind. This is only about a third of the work that goes into bringing items to market. First you have to find them, then you have to clean, repair, and research them. Next is the packing, transporting, unpacking and setting up so you can see a nice display of quality items to buy. In the antique business I most love the shopping and buying part; the cleaning, repairing, researching, pricing, packing, transporting, unpacking, and setting up are chores to get over with. Selling is fun; chatting with customers, learning new information and checking out everyone else’s stuff is the reward.