Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Six reasons for vintage sellers to specialize - and why not

Every vintage seller faces this dilemma: what kinds of items should I sell? Should I specialize, or be a selling generalist?

As one seller put it: "I am starting to believe that having multiples of items or items with similar tag words helps... (Like having several industrial metal file boxes listed in your shop). Or even specializing in something, or a type of vintage, like having all industrial items listed. That would be something to work toward. Right now my inventory is all over the place. I have mid-century and industrial among others. I would have to start just buying a certain type of vintage. Hard to do when so many different things catch your eye!"

I have been selling vintage online for over 10 years. Here is my take.
Victorian hair combs slip sterling silver bowl
I've been a selling generalist.

Six reasons for vintage sellers to specialize

  1. Buyers will love your niche "boutique" and return for more purchases. You are not as dependent on being found in search, either on Etsy or search engines.
  2. You become an expert rather than having to research everything.
  3. If you sell similar types of things, there are often advantages to having the same types of items to catalog, store and package.
  4. Sell something you love and it will be obvious. Your enthusiasm will attract shoppers and encourage buying from your shop
  5. You develop your own brand. When people think of your shop, they think of a specific item or style. They are inclined to shop with you when they want that kind of item. It is easier to identify your target audience and market to them. This is huge with search going to artificial intelligence.
  6. (Added 1/16/20) Etsy said in a podcast a while back that using the same search terms in multiple listings can help you rank better over time. For example, if someone searches for "tooled leather purse" and finds (and buys!) your listing, the next time someone searches "tooled leather purse," any listings in your shop with those words will rank higher. 

Can we be too specialized?

At the same time, we must be balanced. There are risks to becoming too specialized. The market can change. We must be ready to accommodate shifts in market tastes. No one wants to be stuck with a lot of unsalable merchandise.

Having a large, diverse inventory helps a shop to be on-trend for something at any given time.

One big reason not to specialize

The more we specialize, the more we increase our cost to source our items to sell. We must cast our buying net wider than selling generalists. We have to develop more ways to obtain more specialized vintage wares to resell. If you live in a rural area, sourcing niche items to resell can become difficult.

If we do not specialize, we can just buy anything we see that is reasonably priced and resell it. For example, I often go to auctions and purchase whatever I think I can resell at a profit. I live in a rural area and that works for me.

Of course we can specialize some, which is what many sellers do.
Colorful vintage hand blown windowsill glass
So, what kind of buying and selling do you do? Are you a specialist or not?

1 comment:

  1. Estate and yard sales are my main resources for buying for my shop. It's odd, but after years of vintage shopping, I actually get a 'feeling' about a certain item as I look it over. Many things go through my head, too. Things like weight of the item. Fragility of the item. Popularity of the item. Age of the item. And...very important, condition of the item. I too have learned to be a generalist seller because of the limited shopping area I live in. And, I enjoy buying all kinds of merchandise. I am now trying to train myself to overlook things I personally love and go for more modern items that seem to be hot right now. Of course, I am always on the lookout for my niche....Farmhouse decor. Old or modern.


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