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Hi vintage vendor*,
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Are you tired?
(If you’re not, please reply to this email and let us know your secret!)
One longtime seller recently told me they’re taking the summer off from markets because they’re so exhausted.
Another vendor told me they’re doing two markets per weekend several times this summer, sometimes in different cities. Also feeling the burnout.
Another is adding even more market-hosting duties to their already too-full plate.
Another is bringing in record sales at auction, but having trouble juggling that with everything else they’re doing.
Another is closing an antique mall booth because it’s too much driving for not enough return.
Another is opening their third booth.
Another is wondering if they should keep selling at all because sales are so low compared to last year.
Another has decided to pack up shop, this time for good.
Another is helping their kid through a difficult time and they haven’t had the same level of energy to put into selling.
Another just signed a five-year lease to a commercial space.
Another is having their best sales year ever.
These are all real sellers I have talked to, just in the past month. There are many more situations and stories than I could ever fit in an email.
And while not everyone is having the same experience — they all seem to have one thing in common.
They are busy, and they are tired.
I’m not big on being a downer, but I am big on reading the room.
And this room, while beautiful and bedecked with the most fabulous vintage out there, is one filled with people who are very much at capacity.
You’re wearing all the hats. (They might be a super-stylish union-made vintage pillbox hat and a 1992 World Series snapback ball cap, but you’re still wearing ‘em all.)
You’re juggling other jobs, parenting, social lives, family stuff, health, home, the cost of living, and also making time for *living*.
Then there’s the sourcing, research, selling, the markets, the booths, the bricks-and-mortars…to say nothing of all the other work that goes into slinging vintage.
Take social media, for example. Maybe you were riding high on engagement a year ago but now you get five per cent of your followers seeing your posts, even though you’ve changed nothing about the level of energy you put into it.
Is it still worth that level of energy?
If you’re having a great year then of course, stick with what you’re doing! But if you’re not, can you redirect that energy to less time-intensive posts? Or to traditional marketing, collaborations or networking?
If your TikTok or Instagram isn’t working so well anymore, maybe change up your content or try a different marketing channel that doesn’t rely on the whims of a social media algorithm — like a newsletter where you can talk directly to your customers.
Have a bunch of booths you drive back and forth to? Maybe it’s time to consolidate and try a temporary pop-up.
Feeling like it’s hard to connect with your people? Maybe it’s time to find your brand voice.
Etsy sales slow? Maybe book a market or do a Whatnot livestream or dig around to find new pools of customers with discretionary income.
I know you’re tired, and that reading all of that probably made you more tired. It kinda made me tired writing it.
But the point is: instead of adding a hat, try on a different one.
Things are not the same as they were a year or two years ago. The pandemic brought online sales to record highs, but things are levelling out now.
And let’s not ignore the (big, vintage, brass) elephant in the room: customers simply don’t have as much money to spend right now. Inflation rates are cooling compared to last summer, but they’re still high.
Market changes like this are a constant when running a business. We adapt, or we move on.
I’m always going to encourage you to keep going, to switch it up, to adapt, because I believe the reselling community is having a profound impact on the way consumers think about consuming.
It’s because of you, reseller, and your work to change how people shop that brands are even considering, and now seriously attempting, to get in on the secondhand market.
And that might sound scary, like you’re going up against the big guys, but here’s the thing: people want to shop local.
They want to support you and they want get to know you. They just need to see you.
But they might need a little time to be ready to buy given the state of the world right now. Some things you can do while you wait: double down on marketing and refresh your online presence so that when they're ready, they remember to come to you.
Streamline everything you can about your shop and get rid of what's not working (inventory, processes, anything) so that when they’re ready, you’re ready, too. The holiday shopping season will be here before we know it.
But I also get it if you’re just too damn tired.** And I hold space for that as a fellow business owner wearing all the hats. I’m hoping for a summer break myself!
I’ll leave you with some wisdom from Good market thrift store founder Jolande Amoraal, subject of our most recent article (linked below).
It hangs in a frame on a wall in her shop: “Whatever feels good to you, do that.”
Couldn’t agree more.
**At the very least, I hope you take some time to enjoy your summer. Have fun plans? I'd love to know!
*Not a seller, vendor or market organizer? Somehow you’re on my seller email list!
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