If you follow me on Instagram (@thecuriouscowgirl), you have seen all the behind the scenes of setting up not one, but two Antique Mall Booths. I never thought Will and I would have one booth, much less two. But, here we are! And we have learned a LOT about what works best for display, tagging, and other tasks we deal with all the time! In this post, I’m telling you How to Set Up Antique Mall Booths, and giving you all my best tips, sources and recommendations.
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Post UPDATED in January 2023
How to Set Up Antique Mall Booths
Will and I have shopped Antique Malls since we were kids. They are endlessly entertaining, serving up an equal measure of nostalgia and picking opportunities. I have found so many great treasures in Antique Malls across the country. Some make their way to our home, and others are destined for our own booths.
We jumped into being Dealers in 2020, setting up our first booth at Benny Jack Antiques on Riverfront in Dallas. After a successful first 18 months, we decided a second booth at a different mall would be wise. So in February 2022, we moved into Forestwood Antique Mall in Dallas.
I felt a lot more confident about planning for our second booth, than I did our first booth. The first one was definitely a learn-as-you-go experience! To save you from making some of the mistakes I’ve made, and the good decisions as well, I want to share all our lessons learned. So, let’s start with selecting the best Mall.
The Best Antique Malls in Dallas
We are fortunate to live in a large metropolitan area, with dozens of Antique Malls from which to choose. So how did we pick the mall that was best for us? We started by thinking about where our idea customer might be most likely to shop. We wanted a Mall with high quality dealers who set up well curated booths, and with high foot traffic.
We visited several malls to observe and asses. We visited on the weekends and weekdays. We made note of any Social Media marketing, and the quality of that Social Media. (If you’d like recommendations on how to market an Antique Mall on Social Media, click here). We visited with other Dealers when we happened upon them, and asked how they liked selling at that Mall. And we spent time talking to the owner and/or the mall manager. Their level of interest in us, what we would be selling, and how helpful they were with customers told us a lot about the culture of the Mall.
Both malls where we have a booth are very different, and attract a different kind of shopper. And we curate what goes in each booth based on our assessment of what will sell best in each setting.
Display Options for Antique Booths
Have you ever hear the phrase “you have to spend money to make money”? I suggest you settle into the idea that you are going to have to spend a little money to get your booth set up and looking as inviting and professional as possible. No one wants to shop in a booth that looks like a mish-mash of stuff just thrown in together.
If you have the option to paint your booth, I recommend a very neutral color, like an off white. Sound boring? Well…consider this. Art Galleries and Museums often have neutral walls, so that what is on display in the rooms or galleries stand out. If you pick a shocking color for your walls, that might be what shoppers notice, and that’s not the goal! Let your merchandise create the color and visual interest!
Antique Mall Booth Display Recommendations
Now let’s discuss display, starting with shelves. Most dealers sell 90% of what is in their booth. However, almost every dealer has some kind of shelving for display purposes only.
Shelving Options: It may seem obvious, but don’t just drag any old shelf you can find into your booth. The quality of your shelving can absolutely set the tone for the shopper regarding the quality of the merchandise you will be selling.
You can opt for taller shelves, as we did, or choose shorter shelves. The main consideration is how many “smalls” will you have in your booth? We have many, so taller shelves gave us more display space.
In one booth, we tend to showcase our Folk Art and Rustic Decor. Our shelves match that look. You can see similar shelves below: Simply click on the image to see the product details and pricing.
In our second booth, we created a more polished look, and I chose these etageres for display. The first option is the exact shelf we have. Simply click on the images for more information.
Beyond shelving, when setting the tone for you booth, don’t forget to look down. Many malls are former grocery stores, or other big spaces, and the floor could be anything from polished concrete to old worn out carpet.
Rug Options: I strongly recommend putting down a very simple neutral sisal or sea grass rug in your space. It will brighten your booth, and keep shopper’s eyes on your goodies, rather than a dark dirty floor. When we moved into our first booth, we had an old oriental rug we threw down, just because we had it. Eventually we replaced it with a sisal rug, and the difference was tremendous. Here are a couple of options, and the first is the exact rug I have in both booth spaces. Click on each image for more information.
Lighting: Lighting is such an important consideration with considering How to Set Up Antique Mall Booths. Antique Malls are notoriously dark….mainly because many are housed inside buildings with very high ceilings. I recommend ALWAYS adding lighting to your booth! The more the better! If you don’t have electricity, then cordless touch lamps are a game-changer! Many are LED, so they will last a long time…and if you buy two, you can always have one charged and ready at home, Here are several options in different styles to match the aesthetic feel of your booth.
How to Set Up Antique Mall Booths: Display Essentials
Now that you have considered what your booth will look like, your second set of decisions in How to Set Up Antique Mall Booths will be Display Essentials.
Easels are important for displaying plates or small framed art. Get several in different sizes, so you always have the correct size you need for whatever you are displaying. The first image is what I use for my booths. I like that I can buy several sizes at one time, and they are not expensive. Click on the image for more information.
If you want a more traditional plate stand or easel, the next image might be a good option. Just be sure and mark your easel with a “NFS” or “Not for Sale”, or you might find yourself replacing easels more frequently than you would like!
Other Display Essentials: You might want to consider having available a couple of risers. Acrylic risers are nice, and really make your objects seem important when displayed this way. Click on the image for more information.
Finally, I’d get a few plate or platter hangers. Remember that what you are selling will always sell better when displayed as intended in an actual home. So if you have a set of decorative plates for sale, that really look best arranged in a group on a wall, then hang those suckers up in your booth. Don’t hope that shoppers can visualize how those same plates will look on a wall, if they are simply in a stack in your booth. Click on the image for more information.
The Antique Dealer’s Tool Box
Boy did we learn the hard way. You must have a tool box of supplies that you take with you to your booth every time you go there. I recommend the following:
- A Tool Box
- A Cordless Drill. Many Antique Malls do not allow dealers to use nails, as the hammering can knock off your neighbor’s displays. Drills are safer.
- Hanging hooks if your booth walls are made of pegboard.
- Several sizes of screws, long and short.
- Extension cords. Only if your booth has electricity. Lamps display much better if illuminated!
- Pencils and a Measuring Tape.
- A small level for hanging wall art.
- Black and Red Pens. Why red? Many malls ask that dealers put their dealer number in red on tags, to speed up the check out process.
I’d also recommend keeping Windex Wipes and a Dust Rag, in case your treasures need a little cleaning up!
How to Set Up Antique Mall Booths: Other Important Supplies
You will be doing a LOT of tagging. Every single item in your booth will have to be tagged. And I notice that many dealers choose very small tags that are affixed with string, or are adhesive.
We made the decision to choose slightly larger tags that I affix with thin black satin ribbon. Sure it costs a little more money, but….I like the larger tags because it’s easier for customers to SEE my description and the price. And, we had rubber stamps made with our company name, and every tag is stamped on the back. Why? We think it looks a lot more professional, and again, elevates everything in our booth.
For those items that don’t accommodate a tied tag, I tape the tag to the bottom or back of the object. I don’t use adhesive tags, because as a buyer, it makes me CRAZY to buy something and have a very hard time getting the tag off when I get home. Or worse, removing the tag and damaging the object.
I keep a bag of tags and pens in my Supply Bag with my tools, so I always have plenty on hand. I stamp several at a time at home, so my supply is always ready to go. Below are the tags I most frequently use. Click on the image for more information.
And, below are tags that many dealers use with the string already attached. Click on the image for more information:
Finally, I have a couple of plastic tubs I keep in my car, filled with packing paper and bubble wrap. Sometimes we will remove objects from our booth if they aren’t selling, and bring them back at a later date. Sometimes, if a piece of furniture sells, and we have to find new display spots for smalls, a few things might not fit anymore, and we bring them home. I find it’s never a bad idea to have a tub or two with packing paper and bubble wrap handy.
My husband really likes to make sure our storage tubs are all the same size. We use them when we are on a buying trip, we often have inventory stored in them waiting to get tagged and moved into a booth, and it just works better to have all the tubs be the same exact size. At first I thought he was being really picky, but I have come to appreciate the ease of the same size tubs!
Below are the exact tubs we use ALL the time! Click on the image for more information.
I hope this post has been helpful! Please feel free to give feedback or ask questions in the comments! And best of luck as an Antique or Vintage Dealer!!
And, if you’d like help learning how to market your Booth on Social Media, check out my “Getting Social with The Curious Cowgirl Podcast”!
Tags: Antique Dealer | Antique Mall | Benny Jack Antiques on Riverfront | Dallas Antique Shops | Forestwood Antique Mall