Saturday, March 14, 2020

Selling vintage in uncertain times

With coronavirus, we have seen supply chain disruptions, stock market fluctuations, even companies temporarily stopping business. The news seems bad.

What is a vintage online seller to do? Will people still be buying in a week? Next month? Late this year? No one knows.

First, take stock

Take stock of where you are, your business. Small businesses like ours are better able to adjust to rapid market changes than larger enterprises.

What is your business plan? What kind of inventory do you have? How does this information fit in to where things are? Where are things heading?

Supply chain disruptions

Handmade sellers are experiencing issues with their supply chains. Are you a vintage supply seller? You may have more demand for your items. Vintage sellers may wish to consider what types of potential supplies they have available, as now may be a good time to sell them.

I have also heard that "survivalist" websites have been swamped. Do you have low-tech items that could come in handy in a survival situation (read: wood stove parts, cast iron spiders, camping chairs)? Now may be the time to list them.

If supply issues become dire, people will still need stuff. You know, pots and pans, towels, silverware. The market could improve for practical secondhand household items.

How about your supply chain?

I am seeing some long lead times (over 30 days) when purchasing packaging from my usual supplier.

My husband and I are looking at our buying habits, especially at auction. Do we want to sit in a cramped room with 50 other people for a few hours? How comfortable am I with pawing through all of the used stuff? (Right now, my plan is to don gloves for preview, offer advance bids and pick up later.)

After someone has coronavirus, for how long is their stuff contaminated? Will it come up at auction? (Clean items are rare in our buying world.)

Will there be more competition for thrift store items? How will the garage sale season be?

What IS selling?

That of course is a loaded question. Whole economic sectors have been hit worldwide. All we can do is guess. What will the 2020 wedding season be like? Will the trend for (possibly germ-infested) "experiences" change back to owning cool "stuff?" Will collecting become more popular?

People may have extra time on their hands. Books may sell well (especially those not available via Kindle). Soap sellers report an uptick. My last sale was cloth. (I figure that someone has plans to sew with their new found spare time.)

If things get really bad, my aim will be to offer practical things, like kitchen tools and gadgets. I will be sure to have some fun jewelry for sale as well, a way to pamper yourself with when things are tough.

What could you do if things completely shut down?

Besides listing new items (which can be held in draft if needed) what about improving existing listings? It may be a good time to retake photos, research new keywords and clean up listings.

What about learning a new skill or embarking on a new type of social media? Some may even decide to start their own selling website.

Sickness and quarantines

Will people have more time to shop? Or will they have no finances to do so? If large gatherings are cancelled, will the loss of antique shows affect your business? Will your brick and mortar remain open?

Will you be able to continue selling online in the case of a quarantine? Will the post office stay open? What if you or a loved one gets sick?

Take care of yourself!

Be sure to follow common-sense guidelines for your own health, as well as that of your loved ones. Keep in touch with relatives and friends. Practice kindness.

Is your business prepared in the case you cannot attend to it for some time? Who has your login information to shut down your online business if you are unable to?

Do you have a plan?
biohazard symbol virus

**Thanks for noting that I have no medical training and no intention to give medical advice.**
This post is solely aimed at outlining some thoughts for vintage online selling businesses planning in light of recent world events. 

Selling vintage in uncertain times

With coronavirus, we have seen supply chain disruptions, stock market fluctuations, even companies temporarily stopping business. The news s...