Heading to your local flea market this weekend? 

Below are 5 things not to say to a vintage vendor if you are standing in their booth.

  • That's hilarious
  • I see you priced this at $50, would you take $10?
  • Omg I know what I want to be for Halloween!
  • Where do you get all of this from? (While snorting, slightly)
  • Do you make these? (Swift disregard while point across your merchandise)

My gut reaction as a dealer myself is, are you kidding me?

I added what was in the parenthesis too. It's what I'm thinking while they saying it.  While I'm building up resentment towards them.


What you have here is inexperience as a customer and they are in your booth. They have paid to come to a show.  It's possible this is still a potential customer.

How do you handle it?

I tend to live by the customer is always right rule. They aren't always right, but it's where I start.  It's my years in the restaurant business.
Let's answer a few of these remarks and see what we can do to make the customer more comfortable and interested.

That's Hilarious

I hear this a lot, I say it a lot.  There IS a lot of hilarious vintage. It can bring you back to a time you remember. Or it's so dated it's just damn funny.  ASK what's so funny? You may get yourself an awesome vintage story that includes your item.  You may make yourself a new customer.

I see you priced this at $50, would you take $10?

Obviously you won't.  Keep emotion out of it. Explain to the customer, I've had these before, they sell for around X amount.
"I'm happy to work with you on a 10% to 20% discount, but I can't discount this or any item by 75%."
Anyone who asks for a discount this huge is new (or just really rude, let's pretend they're new)  Teach them if you can.
What's an appropriate discount?  10% to 20% and the more you buy the better the discount.  What seems rude to you may be a genuine attempt at testing the waters.
Remember the junk they see on TV now, but show them how it really is. 

Omg I know what I want to be for Halloween! 

 This statement, especially for vintage clothing dealers can be a stake through the heart.  Though, I picked up some vintage and found some pieces that would make the perfect Carol Brady outfit. 
Unless it's a vintage Halloween costume, it's a piece to be worn. It's real clothing.  I know the gut reaction is to the tell them to go to Walmart and pick up their costume.
Find out what they want to be for Halloween. Either qualify as a customer fast or move on.  If they want to be a 50's housewife or pinup girl, when they find out how much period dresses cost, it's not a silly Halloween costume anymore.  Unless they showed up specifically to find a costume thinking it would be cheap, there's potential to turn them into a customer.  

Explaining this dress is higher quality than any of today's comps, it can actually hold it's value, AND be resold someday can be appealing.  What you buy today at Walmart has little to no resale value long term. It'll end up in a landfill. Go vintage, treat it well and you will have to opportunity to sell it to someone else who will love it.

Where do you get all of this from?

 I'm never sure if they are genuinely curious, horrified or want to know so they can find some themselves.  So my response is usually, "All over. We buy estates and individual items all over the Chicago area"  Honest and to the point.  None of your business may feel great to say, but it's the wrong answer. 

 Do you make these? 

This person simply doesn't know where they are.  They could have been dragged along, have never seen vintage stuff before.  Explain "these were made in the 1960's by X" I happened upon many of them.  I usually make a joke about my skills at making anything at this point.  This is a good time to ask if they've ever been to this market before. You may find out they are totally new and be able to make a great impression on them for next time.
What other things do you hear that make you crazy?  Let me know in the comments!
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