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How to Start and Maintain an Antiques Booth 
 
by L.R. Newberry August 16, 2005

This article offers tips for opening and operating a booth in an antiques mall.

You love antiques and collectibles. Perhaps the sight of a gleaming 19th century mahogany china closet makes your heart beat faster, or maybe you have an impressive collection of cookie jars from the 1950s. You’ve often daydreamed of owning a quaint little antiques shop that’s overflowing with beautiful items full of character and patina, but concerns about the time commitment, start up costs and risks involved have prevented you from pursuing that dream. Why not open a booth in an antiques mall instead?

In an antiques mall, antique dealers rent space from the mall owner in order to sell their wares. The dealers purchase inventory, create their own displays and decide upon pricing. There are much lower start up costs and risks, dealers do not need to man the shop at all hours and they can take advantage of the large number of customers attracted to the variety of antiques available from the many different booths.

Getting Started

If you are interested in opening a booth, begin by visiting the antiques malls in your area. Browse around the booths to get a feel for the place. Do you like what you see? Is it busy? Would the antiques you want to sell fit in at this mall? For example, if you plan to sell old farm tools, you probably shouldn’t start out at a mall that primarily carries antique furniture and draws customers looking for home furnishings.

Once you’ve found a few malls that you like, ask to talk to the owner or manager and inquire about the conditions for owning a booth. Be sure to ask about the amount of advance notice needed if you choose to leave the mall and carefully read over any contracts before signing. Different malls will have different requirements. Many will have a price per square foot of rented space. In addition, many require a percentage of any sales. Some will request that you work one day a month, helping customers and watching out for shoplifters. Some will require a security deposit, perhaps one month’s rent. The owner may also be able to tell you how to obtain a sales tax id number, if it is required where you live.

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