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“I say to myself that I shall try to make my life like an open fireplace, so that people may be warmed and cheered by it and so go out themselves to warm and cheer.”

Elegant and gorgeous, all the essentials for a perfect Holiday tablescape
Credit: Donal Skehan

 

So many wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas tablescapes and decor ideas bombard social media, this time of year… So, this is the short list of biggest-bang-for-the-buck things you can include  to make your tablescapes, and decor truly wonderful, and gorgeous.

Mood, romance, and settings so beautiful they almost have fragrance, are not that difficult to achieve, with a few carefully chosen elements.  Architectural features like ancient stuccoed walls, 20 foot high ceilings (fit for chandeliers) and banks of windows may be beyond many folks reach. But there are a few things that import so much atmosphere, to a room or tablescape, that I use them whenever possible. They are fragrant botanicals, wonderful antique and vintage mirrors, candlelight (and additional lighting with chandeliers, Edison bulbs, or fairylights), and antique tableware.

Botanicals and candle light
Credit: viaQuintessentialduckeggBLUE

Botanicals are always best served fresh:

Holiday brunch perfection. Rosemary sprays and wreaths.
Credit: QuintessentialDuckEggBlue

 

Holly, poinsettia, pine, and boxwood are ubiquitous, but can be a bit boring. Instead, I hunt down the most fragrant botanicals I can find: Fir, eucalyptus, bay leaf, rosemary, and cedar boughs, garlands, and wreaths. I enjoy contrasting foliage with fruit (pomegranates, lemons,  clove spiked oranges,) gourds, fossils and naturally shed horn, antler, and exotic artifacts.. Extra long cinnamon sticks and pinecones are traditional, and get tucked away in many rooms.  But other than fragrance, it is those botanicals that introduce a calligraphic statement which create the biggest impact.

Happily, they can be gathered yourself, or easily purchased: tall, stripped branches and groomed boughs, which I sometimes paint–this year in red, with fire hydrant paint, in case they end up outside, in arrangements.  Grapevine branches and young bamboo, left natural or sprayed gold, are wonderful and add layers of height, without blocking sight lines.

Candle light, texture, chandelier and mirror, with evergreens. Lovely, even by day.
Credit: Carmen Darwin

 

A Time To Reflect:

There are few things that work well in almost any space, with low or high ceilings, that instantly add as much atmosphere and mood, as does a large antique mirror.  A wonderful collection of smaller antique mirrors can sometimes carry the same impact, and have the added virtue of being adaptable to a variety of spaces. But large mirrors open a room, much like a window, and have decor chops like almost nothing else. Moreover, apart from any individual mirror’s singular beauty, they reflect light. 10 candles become 20, 40 fairy lights become 80.  Mirrors and candlelight belong together like the stars in the night sky.

Versatile collection of smaller antique mirrors
Credit: Kindred Vintage

Firelight:

Candlelit elegance
Credit: Enchanted Home

 

“I say to myself that I shall try to make my life like an open fireplace, so that people may be warmed and cheered by it and so go out themselves to warm and cheer.”

George Matthew Adams, a mid-20thC writer, editor and philosopher said that. And isn’t that the highest goal of any tablescape, any meal, any occasion?  The great thing is, aside from adding beauty, candlelight can help you accomplish that goal. Researchers have found that time spent in proximity to flickering fire lowers blood pressure, and causes people to both relax, and feel more sociable. A fireplace, bonfire or firepit would no doubt give a stronger dose of well-being, but not everyone has a fireplace in the room in which they dine, and bonfires, in the home, are frowned upon.

Since the studies scientists used to record these facts used video of fire, rather actual fire, it is no stretch to see how candles’ flames can provide similar results. Candle light is, in fact, just a more diminutive, less smokey version of that wonderful thing that happens around a campfire, at night, when the stories start to flow. It’s rich amber hue is inviting, soothing, inviting, forgiving…and perfect for taking marvelous photos. Candelabras, and multiple candlesticks, recreate that atmosphere, at table. It is essential because it is so much more than just table light.

 

Atmospheric candlelit tablescape and antique mirror
Credit: Donal Skehan

Mismatched Treasure:

“Antique silver objects are among the most evocative treasures we possess. Whether handed down from generation to generation or purchased new, they become one of the threads in a family’s history…Because these things are also part of our everyday life, and not just displayed in a glass case, they give us a special link to the past and remind our children of their heritage — of quirky family stories and fun adventures. These pieces travel with us through our lives, growing older with a special grace.” 

This is one of the loveliest explanations on why this remains an essential for the best tablescapes. Not only does it add incredibly romantic luster, old world glamour, and marvelous beauty to your table, it starts up conversation all across the table. Guests compare their settings with one another to decide favorites, making up wildly humorous, fictional histories, or to listen, smiling, to family stories about some particular piece.

Mismatched Antique & Vintage Silver
Credit: Unknown source, Tumblr

I use mismatched antique and vintage hotel silver, mismatched antique cutlery, with beauty and/or charm,  and unusual Victorian (or heavy silver) candelabras and candlesticks. I also collect antique silver napkin rings and beautiful fabric napkins. Each piece is chosen for its whimsy or beauty, though I tend toward an eclectic blend of classic and simple lines, Art Nouveau era, and quirky folk tale inspired pieces. That they are mismatched, I find wonderful, though I have repeats of a few. Each piece tells a different story.

I’ve found that family members and friends develop their own favorites within my collection, which tickles me to no end, and adds to the continuing legacy of each piece.  The settings, to me, matter more than the table, though, of course I love big antique wooden tables, especially those about whose patina I do not have to worry over much.

Mismatched antique silver
Credit: Lisa Cohen

That is because, if a dining table is less than lovely, it can be covered. And if it very valuable, it must be covered.  Layer table covering with texture and contrast in mind. Rough over luxe, solid over print. If the tablecloth is primarily solid (for example burlap over a lighter muslin, ticking, or broadcloth), I mismatch the napkins so that no two are alike, though a color prevails. If the tablecloth has a print, solid colored napkins are preferable. It is the combination textures, and of solid and print, and that allows the eyes to rest, and gives the broadest room for successful mismatching of tableware, silver, botanicals, and sophisticated whimsy.

Lyrical and lovely Holiday tablescape
Credit: Anno1924.blogspot.com

Buy items like those shown in this blog below on GoAntiques.com! 

Large mirror in gilded ornate frame. Believed early 20th Century. 53 X 30.

 

20th Century Italian Mirror In Gilt Wood
Antique Neoclassical Giltwood & Gesso Mirror, 36.5″x50″x6″deep, c.1900
Antique Vermilion Red Chinoiserie Mirror, 63″ H X 33.3″ W X 2″ D
Pair of Antique Bronze & Brass Candlesticks
Victorian Revival Brass Candelabra Multi Arm Candelabra
Antique Baccarat Style Molded Crystal Glass Candelabra
Pair Bronze & Porcelain Rooster Candelabras by Arson, c.mid1800s

 

Pair of Silver Art Nouveau Candelabra by WMF

 

 

 

Antique Persian Qajar Dynasty Period Silverplated Lantern / Hanging Lamp
Antique Neoclassical Silvered Bronze Chandelier
Rogers Fair Oak Dinner Forks 6 pcs. 1913 Silver Plate
“Louis XVI” Silver-Plated Bouillon Spoon Set/3 Ca. 1900 Nat’l/Bonn/Smith
Antique Knowles BONBON Spoon STERLING
Bakelite handled and Silver Plated boxed Deco teaspoon set
Antique Robert PRINGLE Teapot LONDON S.P.
Antique Mappin Bros Silverplate Coffee Pot
Victorian Silverplate 3 Sided Biscuit Box
Meriden Silverplate Victorian 6-Bottle Castor Set

 

 

 

“If you invite them, they will come.”

In the hit movie, Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner hears an inspirational voice, telling him to proactively build a baseball diamond, in order to mend a relationship: “If you build it, he (and people) will come.”  Since the film, variations on that phrase have been in constant use, because it carries a basic truth: If you put attention and effort into something, over time, you increase the likelihood of success. The same is true for antique & vintage online sales.

 

The Importance of An Invitation

Imagine getting everything ready for a wonderful, festive holiday party…and having no one come. Learning, after-the-fact, that the reason no one showed was that no one ever received an invitation, would be terrible. Guests didn’t come because they never received any indication that their presence was important to the host. This holiday season, if you are hoping for a surge of visitors to coming knocking on your storefront, now is the time to send out those invitations, and let your valued past, and hoped-for future customers know your storefront is decked out, the music is going, and you are happily anticipating seeing them soon.

If you find this interesting and want to capture more sales this holiday season, stick around! We’re providing you with an excellent resource and template for how to best re-engage your old buyers and inspire them to come back and purchase from you again.

Snail Mail or Email

Sending Christmas and Holiday cards has been both a personal and business tradition for generations. For many, though, it is a tradition that is falling by the wayside, due to time constraints, postage costs, and apathy. However, as an online business owner, this one of the most important ways of generating retail rush.

Christmas cards, like holiday party invitations, say to previous customers and prospective ones, that they are important to you, you appreciate the relationship, and would like to further it by inviting them to visit. Sending out a holiday card, whether it is an email, or a traditional, more personal paper card, sent through the mail, there are a few best practices you might want to consider.

Neil Patel, founder of QuickSprout, says that “in spite of social media’s viral potential, email still wins as the most effective method of reaching and wooing customers. With over 87% of US customers checking their email on cellphones daily, it makes sense to use electronic mail, as part of your marketing. Not only that, but email marketing is one of the most effective way of building clientele. Online marketing experts say that there are only 3 ways to increase online sales.  They are to increase the number of customers, increase the average order size, and increase the number of repeat purchases.

The goal is to rekindle (business) relationship with previous customers, inspire browsers (visitors) to become customers and convert them into repeat buyers by actually taking the time to invite them to your store.

Since time and effort are so valuable, we thought you might appreciate 4 great tips on best practices so that your “sales invitation/Holiday cards” make the best impact.


1. Send only cards of high quality.

The quality the card reflects the caliber of the storefront.There is just no getting around it.

Whether you use an online holiday email template or paper cards, send the nicest holiday cards you can afford. If you’re looking to go the extra mile & send a professionally designed holiday card, platforms like Mailchimp make it easy (trust us, we designed this email with Mailchimp)!  

2. Keep Your Holiday Card Happy

All shop owners want happy holiday shoppers. So, regardless of your own feelings about Christmas, choose cards that allow for a variety of beliefs, so as not to offend. If you know your clients’ beliefs, you can always tailor the Season’s Greetings according, but since the goal is gaining customers, kindness rules. Extending your seasonal greetings beyond the traditional “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas, ” can make a big difference. Just above your signature you might write something like, “Hope 2018 is the best year ever for you and your family, Martha!” According to business experts, this has much the same favorable effect as receiving a thank you note after having sent a gift.

3. Personalize your cards, whatever media you use:

Courting your past and prospective clients personally, whenever you possibly can, increases the effectiveness of your efforts. Personalize your email by including the customer’s first name in the subject bar. HubSpot states that emails with a person’s name in the subject bar increases the open rate by more than 75%.

Paper cards should be hand addressed, using the customer’s title (Dr, Mrs. Ms.) first name and last. Details you remember from past interactions, are hugely helpful in re-engaging customers.  “I remember you loved Arts & Crafts mirrors, and I happen to have another you might like…” Marketing & Sales experts, McKinsey & Company documented the importance of including detail, stating, “home-goods retailer Williams-Sonoma reported a tenfold improvement in response rates by adopting personalized e-mail offerings based on individuals’ on-site and catalog shopping behavior.” 

Both emails and traditional cards could also offer previous customers special offers, such as extra discounts just for them, or buy-one-get-one-free deals, not available to the general public, etc. This says “you’re are especially valued” – and that is a much harder message to resist.

4. The Ultimate Tip: Sending out your Christmas cards in time

For cards sent through snail mail, in the USA, December 15th is the general cut off if you want them to arrive in time. For packages, and international mail, the cut off is much earlier. Party invitations that leave to time for preparation, or that arrive the day after…Well, you don’t want to be that guy. (I know someone with 5 full boxes of beautiful Christmas cards, each a different design, each representing a year the cards weren’t ready in time to be sent, lol!)

The Ultimate Goal of a well-visited storefront this season, with lots of purchases, requires The Ultimate Tip: Send out your cards, emails, or both, giving your prospective customers the heads up early enough for them to come shop, buy, and receive their purchases in plenty of time.

That will make this holiday festive for everyone! Because, if you invite them…they will come. Click below to see email templates that we think will be helpful to get you kickstarted on sending out your invitations. 

I’m Ready to Send My Invitations!

Looking for more newsletters like this, tailored for antique & vintage dealers? Click here.

Credit: Mimi Reed for Veranda Magazine

The holidays and guests are on their way!

Preparing to host holiday guests doesn’t have to be stressful or expensive. In fact, sometimes it’s the smallest gesture that says the most. A few good tips, some forethought about the needs of your particular guests, and the effort to make whatever you have, as comfortable as you can, is key in being the best host. We’ve gathered some basic best practices for a host to show guests they are welcome.

First Things First:

Clean your home thoroughly, especially any area where your guest(s) will be.  This is especially important if you have a pet – even if your guest has animals, themselves. Folks sometimes have sensitivities to the dander of other peoples’ pets. Nothing is worse than an allergic reaction in the middle of the night. Moreover, as the weather grows cooler, houses are warmer and more closed up, making heat, dust and Eau de Pet more extreme. It is easy to overlook our own critters’ impact on our homes or allergies, so do make sure you deep-clean before your guests arrive. Dust, vacuum, mop, and open the window, to circulate some fresh air.  

Sleeping Arrangements in Shared Space:

Credit: SFGirlByBay

The thought and effort a host puts into making their guests comfortable doesn’t have to cost a penny, yet it speaks louder than luxurious bedding, and an endless supply of amenities.  Considering a guest’s needs, and trying to make them as comfortable as possible, whatever your means, quietly translates into a heartfelt welcome.

If you will be using an air mattress, try to place it out of the main traffic pattern in whichever room it will be. If possible, place it so that there is as much privacy as possible. Test the mattress over 3 days, ahead of time, to be sure it doesn’t have a leak. Also, be absolutely sure to use a heavy mattress pad, (a blanket, or even an aired, opened flat sleeping bag can work) between the mattress and the bottom sheet.  Cots and air mattresses are affected by the temperature of the floor, which radiates up, and makes the sleeper cold (or hot) & clammy, even if the vinyl mattress has been “flocked.”  A bottom sheet just isn’t enough insulation, and is miserable to sleep on. Sweep the space, before setting up the mattress, to protect it from punctures. If the mattress has a pump, leave it accessible, for middle-of-the-night adjustments.

Credit: Death-By-Elocution.tumblr

Whatever caliber of bedding you use, make sure it is fresh. Blankets and comforters that have been in storage can always use, at least, a good shake and airing, either by hanging outside on a line, or a long air tumble cycle with a dryer sheet. I love percale sheets & pillowcases, & linen-covered down duvets, which are easy to launder, and deliciously comfortable. It’s a good idea  include a top sheet, even with a duvet, so your guests can sleep only under a sheet if hot. Include an extra blanket, at the foot of the bed or close by, for added warmth. Two pillows per person is a common rule of thumb, ideally, one firmer/softer than the other.

Credit via: One Kind Design

 Something many hosts don’t realize, especially if they are younger or more fit, is that not everyone can easily get up from low sleeping arrangements, especially for a midnight bathroom run. Do place a wooden chair near any bed that is low, in the assumption your guests could need something to hold on to, whilst getting up or down. Wooden chairs are great as they can potentially double as a makeshift bedside table, a suitcase stand, or just a spot to put on socks and shoes.

However, whether your guest will have their own room, or a sleep in a shared space, the Number One Most Important Thing is to put yourself in your guest’s shoes, and try to accommodate THEIR needs. Try out your guest sleeping space, by sleeping there first, yourself. You may find that the albeit beautiful sunrise, hits the guest sleeper smack in the eyeball, unless you move the mattress to a different spot,. You need to provide a window cover, or a sleeping mask. It gives perspective. Remembering your own best and worst experiences as someone’s guest is always helpful, as well.

Space Trumps Decor:

Credit: Kelly Nan
  1. A small vase of fresh flowers is a lovely touch, but fight the urge to over-decorate. If collections/decor cover the better part of every surface (because you think “I am beautifying the room for everyday, not just for guests…”) pare them back to a minimum, before your guests arrive and bring them back out after your guests depart.
  2. Creating space for your guests, on surfaces, in the closet (with plenty of hangers), with over the door hooks, or in a dresser, says you care more about their ease in your home than your decor. It says, “We want you to be comfortable, for as long as you are here.”
  3. At minimum, a guest needs someplace elevated and flat, to easily access their suitcase, whether it is a bench, a trunk, a wooden chair or a suitcase rack, which can be bought for less than $50.Likewise, a nightstand, shelf, or bedside surface, of some sort, near the bed, for a guest to lay out their bedtime articles, like spectacles, jewelry, meds, a charging cellphone, a carafe/bottle of water…is helpful.
  4. I always include a plugged-in 3 prong power strip, that reaches the bed, so guests can easily power/use their laptop, phone, etc. The basics I have always provided were a box of tissues, a carafe or bottled water, and unmessy treats/snacks that don’t need refrigeration.

If that sounds overwhelming, do what you can, and start with the basics.

Credit: Benjamin Moore

Ready to prepare your home for guests this holiday season, using antique & vintage finds?

Click the image below to shop on GoAntiques.com


The Dedicated Guest Room:

Good (Basic):

Credit: The Art of Doing Stuff
  1. A3 prong extension cord
  2. Water
  3. Tissues
  4. A waste basket
  5. A printed card with your WiFi login and password, entry passcodes, a couple of core
  6. emergency phone numbers, and the address of your home.
  7. Some hosts add basic how to use the TV/remotes info, and notes about the oddball
  8. home idiosyncrasies they might need to know (ex: our guest bathtub built-in drain
  9. plug requires it being opened or closed a certain way, without any symbols
  10. revealing the secret maneuver.)
  11. A nightlight in the hall or a flashlight

Better (Additional gestures that cost little, but have great impact):

Credit: A Beautiful Mess
    1. All of the above
    2. Bedside reading lamp
    3. Access to an ironing board and iron
    4. A small bowl for jewelry
    5. A basket with slippers, fuzzy socks, for cold floors
    6. Hand lotion
    7. A spare house/gate/pool key for those days you can’t be there
    8. New issues of interesting, or local magazines, a copy of a favorite book or two (short stories, or ones that they can take with them, if they get enmeshed.)
    9. Local magazine, map, brochures, places of interest
    10. Pencil & paper
    11. A small alarm clock (not necessary for most cell phone users)

    Credit: Good Housekeeping via Fox Hollow Cottage

The Best:

  1. All of the above
  2. A suitcase stand
  3. A sleeping mask
  4. An XL robe in a unisex color
  5. A fan/heater
  6. An armchair & ottoman with a side table, reading light, lap blanket
  7. A full length or wall mirror
  8. A desk/vanity near a window where a guest can put on makeup
  9. White noise generator (Fans & air purifiers can pull double duty here.  This is hugely valuable for visiting children at bedtime.)
Credit: Improvements Catalogue

 

Credit: Tessa Neustadt for Architectural Digest

The Guest Bath:

No matter your living arrangements, the goal is to make your guest feel welcome, as comfortable as possible, and cared for. So work with what you have, add what you can, but make sure whichever bathroom guests use, is really clean, and your guests do have a way to freshen up.

Basic (Core:)

Credit: Shades of Blue Interiors via Country Living Magazine
  1. Stock way more than enough toilet paper. (You know how you would feel if stuck in that uncomfortable situation!)
  2. At least 1 large towel (2 is better), a hand towel, and 2 face cloths, per guest.
  3. Space to put their toiletries
  4. A water glass, to rinse teeth
  5. Core toiletries should be full and include liquid body soap or a new unopened bar
    of soap, just for your guest.
  6. Door hooks

The Better Guest Bath:

Credit: The Holding Company
  1. All of the above
  2. Emergency feminine hygiene products, so they don’t have to ask…
  3. Tylenol or other pain reliever
  4. Cotton pads, q-tips
  5. Hair dryer

The Best Guest Bath:

Credit: Fortune and Luxury
  1. All of the above
  2. Plush towels
  3. Plush bath matt
  4. Weight scale
  5. Choice of special toiletries
  6. Bath salts
  7. New toothbrushes/toothpaste
  8. Clean comb/brush
  9. New disposable razor
  10. Hair elastics
  11. Makeup/nail polish remover towelettes
  12. Emergency travel sewing kit, safety pins
  13. Nail file
  14. Lint roller

Expand your guest’s experience this holiday season using antique & vintage finds!

Click the image below to shop on GoAntiques.com

Credit: Kelly Nan

The Extra Mile:

Finishing touches can be small, or extensive. Adding a small vase of flowers to a guest room is lovely. But even a single wildflower, in a water glass, brightens a space and speaks volumes.

Thinking about your guests’ needs,  make sure your kitchen is stocked with basic breakfast ingredients, especially coffee or tea, sweeteners and cream, or whatever you know is key to a guest getting a good start, in the morning. Juice, fruit, muffins, or oatmeal are easy foods to have on hand. It is a good idea to ask ahead whether your guests have any special dietary needs (allergies, diabetes, etc), or is particularly fond of certain foods. Having breakfast and snack foods that familiar, or loved, is a fabulous way to show you care.

 

 

 

 

 

Credit: A Shade of Teal

 

Hosting Little Guests:

If your guests will include children, it is important to think through some basic safety issues. Outside doors, bathroom doors, closets and cabinets that hold cleaners, poisons and sharp objects should be closed, locked and made difficult for smaller children to access. Pools require huge vigilance. 

The holidays are a time when both guests and hosts are happily visiting, and more distracted than ordinary. It is worth making your home as child-safe as you can to avoid the accidents that can happen so quickly.

 

Stocking a few basic, familiar child-friendly foods including Cheerios, bananas, raisins, milk, apple juice,  Annie’s Mac & Cheese, or frozen cheese ravioli can make everyone’s life so much easier, and are almost always thoroughly appreciated by visiting mothers. Additionally, items like fragrance free wet-wipes, ziplock type bags for disposing of diapers, and age appropriate goodies like puzzles, sticker books, an Art Box with paper & crayons or colored pencils, and pipe-cleaners,  go a long way in helping you all get more and better adult visiting time, and kids that’ll adore you forever.

 

A Host’s Lasting Impressions  :

Unfortunately many  of us have stayed in homes in which the hosts made so little effort, the guests were made to feel like an afterthought. Little forethought or effort from a host, inevitably sends the message that the host is indifferent about the guests’ visit, is ungenerous, or is even put out. That sad impression lingers long into the future. Therefore, the more effort you can reasonably make, the better. Conversely, much effort, on the part of a host, even of small means, engenders a kind of heartfelt appreciation that is almost blind to any lack, and likewise, echoes into the future.

I love reading other folks’ ideas on wonderful ways to show friends and family how happy I am they’ve come to visit. But I have also come to understand that the follow-through which compels someone to actually prepare, even in young folks who are already pretty considerate people,  is an evolving skill.  If practiced, it matures, part of the character of a generous heart. I know hosts, with very limited means, who routinely take care of their guests, with joy, thoughtful gestures, and clear forethought.  And, while who wouldn’t enjoy 5 star accommodations, I’d choose that kind of host over a chilly 5 star any day. It really does not matter how much or how little you have. Hosting comes from the heart, and is expressed by forethought, resulting in effort.

Credit: Yvonne Pratt for Stone Gable

Wow your guests by furnishing your home with antique & vintage finds!

Click the image below to shop on GoAntiques.com

Starting a Collection Is So Easy You May Not Realize You’ve Begun!

Folks have been amassing items purely for pleasure since 4,000 B.C. starting with collections of non-functional stone tools. Over the centuries, collecting became the hobby almost exclusively of the rich, who collected books, art, oddities, botanicals, taxidermy, the unique and exotic.  By the early 1900’s people of all ages (and economic backgrounds) could enjoy collecting; the wealthy still collected books, art, historic furniture, weapons, and the exotic, women collected dolls, jewelry, ephemera, needlework, household decor, and textiles, children-discarded cigar bands, toys, and advertising give-aways. More recently, collecting has gone far beyond being merely a wealthy person’s status symbol, or past time to keep one occupied whilst indoors or infirm.

Chained library at Chetham Library in Manchester, England. The oldest public library in the English-speaking world.

 

Avid, seasoned collectors may agree with author Steven Gebler, (Hobbies) who stated, “The desire to be the possessor of a unique item is, in the opinion of many collectors, the underlying motivation for the hobby since it makes one the object of envy, and to be envied is a sign of success.”  But times are a-changin’ and, today, many collections are begun without any sort of conscious decision, no “Hey, I think I’ll become a collector, starting with this right here!” $64 billion worth of home decor items are expected to be purchased by 2020, much of it by “collectors” who have only just come to the realization that not only are they repeatedly drawn to the same kind of thing, but they seem to have acquired quite a few.

 


Et Voilà! Another Accidental Collector is born!

Whether you’ve become an “accidental collector,” have a life goal to become a collector, or are a full-fledged magpie with one serious (or many) collection(s), taking a next, deeper step can be hugely beneficial. That step is to focus your collection. In other words, as you go forward, narrow the selection, within the genre of what you collect, into a specialized, focused part of that genre. In the top left photo, the owner doesn’t just collect “art,” but paintings, and not just animal painting, but paintings of dogs. As a result, this collection has wonderful visual cohesiveness, and is far more unique. If you collect, say, mirrors, consider limiting your collection to Mid Century Modern versions, convex mirrors, Louis Philippe style, or ones with the same color frames.


Focus Your Collections!

By color, texture, shape, subject matter, designer or era, there are many ways to narrow your choices. You’ll find this adds interest, fun, and challenge to the hunt for additions to your collections. Moreover, the visual punch of a well curated, focused collection is amazing. Displayed, your newly focused collection will reveal something wonderful- the variety and nuances within this more specialized grouping, and the synergy that exists between the individual pieces, when gathered together. You’ll  be thrilled to find that your specialized collection is a marvelous example of Aristotle’s “the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.”

 

Need something wonderful for your collection?

Antique 17th century Nürnberg Zinn Pewter Relief Plate Kaisertel
Antique miniature cannon, 18th century style, dates from the 19th century
19th Century French painting
La Negresse Plaster Bust Sculpture After Jean Baptiste Carpeaux
Antique French Mirror, second half of the 19th century.
Vintage French Mid-Century Modern Brass Starburt Mirror by Chaty Villauris
Vintage Musical Rotating Globe/Cigarette Holder Mid Century Modern
Vintage World Globe With Seasons, Zodiak, and Months

 

Click on the item that is calling your name to see it up close! Or click here to see many other wonderful additions to your collections!

Interested in learning more about collecting? Check out our Developing a Good Eye series.

Credits:   1. Diocese of Wenchoster library, Photo: Pharisaios and Pharisaios Publications 2. Photo: Blayne Beecham 3. Photo: Jeff Hirsch  4. Photo: Hannah Puechmarin for Apartment Therapy 5. Design: Eileen Kathryn Boyd, via Traditional Home 6. Brook Astor’s Dog Painting Collection, undated file photo provided by Sotheby’s 7. Photo: Philippe Kress, for House and Home

“If you fail to work at it and cultivate it and maintain it, you could be leaving a great deal of money on the table”. – Entrepreneur.com


Building Trust With Buyers, Online

This month’s newsletter will come as a four-part series on Storefront Renovation, just in time for the Holidays.

Many dealers may be unaware of the impact an online storefront has on his/her online sales. There are key differences between traditional sales methods and online buying patterns which we thought GoAntiques dealers would value. Because we will cover all key aspects of a storefront, we have broken it into a 4-week series, making it easier to digest and implement.

 

Part One focuses on the importance of creating a shopping environment that fosters buyer confidence necessary when deciding to purchase. Part Two begins a practical application, using your banner and storefront description as your first tools in wooing the customer. In Part Three, we continue the practical application, detailing your Photos and Item Descriptions so that they can effectively replace a buyer’s hands-on shopping. We will also help you understand online pricing differences and strategies.  Finally, Part Four on shipping strategies and communication with buyers, will round out the series, and give you a bit of time to rethink, revamp or renovate your Storefronts, so that they are ready for the holiday customers who are tired of standing in lines at the store.

So, grab a cup of coffee or tea, maybe a pen & paper, and jot down all your renovation ideas as we hand you the tools you need.


Did you know that, as of March of this year:

  • Shoppers make 51% of their purchases online, compared to 48% in 2015?
  • An American Hutrust study shows that an incredible 83% of buyers have said that they would gladly recommend to others a company that they trusted.
  • Another study shows that 92% of shoppers rely on reviews and recommendations in deciding on where to shop.  A recommendation is referred trust.

That’s why Jayson DeMers, founder of Audiencebloom (an online marketing agency) stressed the fact that:

“Shopping and ordering through a website is a vastly different experience…customers have less to go on when determining how comfortable they feel making a purchase. Consequently, it’s up to (online dealers) to quickly earn (customers’) trust and curb any skepticism”.

 

How Does This Apply to You?

Traditional brick & mortar stores engage browsers with visuals, touch, sound, smell, incorporating business elements that quietly state that theirs is a business that can be trusted.  These include good lighting, professional signage, friendly shopkeepers, a clean storefront, full shelves & nice displays–all of which influence a shopper’s decision to purchase. Since the online shopping experience is virtual, it is important to adjust an online storefront in ways that will be commensurate with these, and positively influence each shopper quickly.

People do business with those that they like, know, and trust. Establishing trust in an online context is critical and must be established consciously. The fact is, online shoppers have vast choices and make very quick assessments of storefronts and products. They are, at any point in time, only a few quick clicks from moving to another site. This means that being a savvy dealer is more important than ever.


Establishing trust in the online marketplace begins with how your storefront, and your inventories are presented. On GoAntiques this is done through a quality storefront banner, and friendly & detailed storefront description; which will be covered in the next newsletter. Until then, we hope you’ve enjoyed this introductory issue and hope you are just as excited as we are to revamp your storefronts!

Update My Storefront

 

Best Regards,
The GoAntiques Team

Click here to read Part 2!

Not a GoAntiques Seller? Click Here to Learn More about why we’re the most cost effective marketplace for Dealers

References:

Greet Your Buyer With a Smile!

Part 2, in our Storefront Renovation Series, explores why creating trust is so important in online sales, and changes you can make, right now to your GoAntiques storefront banner and description, to create a great, competitive storefront, attract customers, and thereby increase your sales.  If you haven’t read Part 1, we highly recommend it.

 

“Given the choice of shopping for a product, at the same price, in a dull and badly lit store, or one that is bright and clean, you would always instinctively choose option B. So, it really goes without saying that the first impression and overall appearance of your eCommerce site needs to be impressive, and inspire confidence in who you are and what you do.” – eCommercePlatforms.com

 

Optimizing Your Storefront Banner

A whopping 95% of traditional shoppers say that a store’s appearance is “important in their selection of a place to shop.” Your online storefront, especially your banner, is the buyer’s first impression of you. It is your store’s appearance, in a virtual shopping mall, open to the whole world.

What does your banner say about your business?  If it were a brick and mortar store, there would likely be professional looking signage, clean windows, an attractive display that would capture a passerby’s attention, the lights would be on and welcoming, and the whole would convey that this was an upstanding business, with fabulous inventory just inside.

Accordingly, your front window, your banner image, should be the highest quality, fullest size, be attractive, and be completely in focus. Include your signage and/or the name of your business, and convey professionalism.


Describing Your Business Effectively

Each storefront has the opportunity to describe the business to newcomers. Use this feature to its fullest.  Research other profiles to see what others are doing and model your description after the best. While not everyone is a wordsmith, or if you feel ill-equipped to write the description yourself, find someone who can help you. This is THE place to sell your business. Highlight your strengths. Describe what you sell, the business’ background, and the great reasons why customers would want to shop with you.

Be clear, descriptive, and welcoming. Consider including a glowing customer review. Be sure to proofread, the last thing you want is a typo which could convey lack of dedication. Businesses that care enough to attend to details and presentation give no reason to doubt…If a business owner is apathetic about his storefront, and that shows, customers will have less confidence that they can trust the business.

GoAntiques has seen a real influx in site-wide sales over the past three months, and we want our dealers to be well-equipped to grow, especially as the holiday shopping draws near.

Your storefront banner & description are foundational in a buyer’s first time impression of you. They act as signage and a first “Hello”, and can set the stage for building a catalog of repeat and loyal customers. Next week we’ll be zooming in a bit deeper, giving you the WHY and the HOW to maximize your inventory photos & descriptions, as well as strategies for Pricing, so that your buyer can have full confidence that you sell quality goods, at reasonable prices.

Update My Storefront

Let the Renovations begin!

Best Regards,
The GoAntiques Team

Click here for Part 3! 

Not a GoAntiques Seller? Click Here to Learn More about why we’re the most cost effective marketplace for Dealers

References:

  • https://ecommerce-platforms.com/articles/building-confidence-ecommerce-store-budget
  • https://www.retailcustomerexperience.com/articles/report-consumers-influenced-by-a-retailers-physical-appearance/

 

Show the Buyer Quality Inventory Details

This is Part 3 of a GoAntiques newsletter series on revamping storefronts to instill buyer trust in online sales, if you haven’t read Part 1, click here. To catch up on Part 2, click here. In this newsletter, Part 3, we explain the necessity of detailed inventory images & descriptions, and why buyers need them in order to make a purchase.

We hope you’ve been enjoying the Storefront Renovation Series, which has been exploring the importance of building trust with a potential buyer by providing the details necessary to make them comfortable enough to buy.

“You want to make sure that people understand what you are selling and why they should want it.  Unfortunately that’s where many site owners get things wrong.  They display the product but neglect to provide sufficient detail about why the consumers would want it.  This is perhaps based on the assumption that their product is so great that it needs no explanation.” – eCommercePlatforms.com


Photos/Item Description:

It is vitally important to be detail-oriented in product photos and descriptions, because this is how you compensate for the customer’s inability to assess the item in person.

Above all, photos must be totally in focus, and taken in good light–preferably against a plain background. The more consistent the background is, the more professional the photos appear. The more photos you offer, from all angles, including flaws/labels/details, the more the shopper can trust he has enough information to buy your item.

The online sales experts at Ecommerce.com tell us that, “Most users prefer to have as much detail as possible about anything they are considering buying.  They will never hold it against you for providing too much detail, but they could avoid buying from you if you don’t give enough details. Often when a customer declines to buy from you, they won’t tell you why, and often they won’t even know why.  But the reason is you left them with unanswered questions, and so they didn’t commit to making a purchase immediately.  Once a customer has left your site, it will often be their last visit.”

In your item descriptions, give all the details you would want if you were buying that item, making up for the fact that the shopper cannot see or handle the item as they would in person.  Include product functionalities, dimensions, payment terms, minimum orders, packing options, etc.

“Most (buyers) prefer to have as much detail as possible about anything they are considering buying.  They will never hold it against you for providing too much detail, but they could avoid buying from you if you don’t give enough details.”

While it is sometimes effective to make a brief pitch that plays to emotions, be careful not to oversell.  When you go overboard, readers feel it’s gimmicky and may lose faith. Pay attention to the keywords you use. Be accurate, be clear, and do not exaggerate. Be careful of inaccurate style terms. And again, proofread to ensure a professional tone.

Note: This is not the place for long descriptions about your own possible inaccuracy. In general, disclaimers like that should be clearly stated in your Storefront Policies page.

eBay warns its sellers is to avoid adding text that could be viewed as negative by buyers:

“Harsh or restricting terms of service — requests to do, not do this, do not do that, you must do that — that kind of language doesn’t work in any marketplace, and on eBay it’s actually an effective way of getting rid of customers.”


 Pricing:

In general, shoppers now do item and pricing research on the Internet, “cross-shopping” for almost all merchandise before making purchases.

That’s one reason an inventory that covers a range of prices is important. Also, within each category of items, it is wise to have a range-with items that are priced to move as well as rarer items with prices that reflect their value, but are still competitive.

It’s important to offer high end products as well as low end ones to cover the entire range of customers you may encounter.

BEWARE, however,  of this traditional pricing strategy:

“Let’s say you wanted to encourage customers to purchase Item A from your store because that product nets you the highest margins. If you were to price Item A similarly with the rest of the items in Item A’s category, then Item A would simply not stand out.

However, if you were to price the rest of your items extremely high and place them next to Item A in your shopping cart, then Item A would be perceived as an absolute bargain. If you make sure your “relative” prices are on the high end and you will net a higher profit.”

Because today’s buyers cross shop, both online and in brick and mortar establishments,  this is NOT sound online strategy.

In fact, it is a good idea to comparison shop yourself, as a part of your pricing strategy. The online advantage of no brick and mortar and staffing costs can allow you to become a fierce competitor.

Item descriptions, images, and prices are the reasons why a buyer decides to purchase. The combination of these three elements act like a virtual walkthrough of a product the shopper would otherwise experience in-person.

Digging through your inventories may take some time but the end result, of a purchase, will be 100% worth your investment.

Update My Inventory

 

Let the Renovations begin!

Best Regards,
The GoAntiques Team

Click here for Part 4! 

Not a GoAntiques Seller? Click Here to Learn More about why we’re the most cost effective marketplace for Dealers

References:

Shipping & Communication Can Make or Break A Sale

Dealers who communicate often during a sale, and are prepared to quickly respond with information and shipping options to customers, are more likely to develop repeat customers.

We hope you’ve been enjoying the Storefront Renovation Series, which has been exploring the importance of building trust with a potential buyer by providing the details necessary to make them comfortable enough to buy.

Part 4, the final issue, provides you with up-to-date information regarding Shipping & Communication. At this point, you’ve done the heavy lifting to provide the buyer with a great shopping experience. Quality Shipping and Communication provide a good ending to the customer’s experience, which leads to a cycle of future recommendations and sales!

If you need refreshing on the first 3 parts, click here.


“Buyers don’t want shipping to be part of their decision making. The best way to take it out of the decision making process is to offer free shipping. Even if that means moving some or all of the cost of shipping into the price of the item, it’s still an easier experience for the buyer”

Shipping

“When it comes to shipping, the standard is moving across the industry toward free shipping,” according to Jim Griffith, eBay’s senior manager of seller advocacy and the author of The Official Ebay Bible.

Because this is what online competitors are doing increasingly, this is something online buyer’s are weighing in their purchase decisions, and that makes it a potentially valuable sales booster.

Unlike many other selling platforms, the GoAntiques dealer is in control of setting shipping prices and methods. Whether you decide to go with free shipping or not, you should ship your merchandise as quickly as possible. Cohen says that even if there’s a problem with the order, buyers are usually much more amicable when they’ve received their products quickly.

Also, explore and compare rates, using alternative shipping services. Many truckers have partial loads and can freight a large piece of furniture along the route for a much more economical rate:


Communication

Entrepreneur.com calls today’s online shopper “uncertain” and “demanding,” often waiting until the very last minute before shopping for what they need “yesterday”.

The good news is that they are highly appreciative of good service, and good communication. Dealers who communicate often and are prepared to quickly respond with information and shipping options to these customers, are more likely to develop repeat customers, and who advertise on your behalf by recommending you to friends.

“Instead of being product focused, your site should be user focused.  You need to make sure the entire experience of visiting and browsing your site is as easy as possible for the user.  You need to make sure that the experience is a positive one.  You can do this by:

  • Anticipating the kinds of questions users may have about your product

  • Providing as much detail as you possibly can about your products

  • Always being upfront about the price

  • Making it easy for customers to trust your sales platform

  • Making it easy for customers to complete their purchase

  • Giving quality after-sales service”

 

A great storefront is like a great resume, available to every potential internet customer, so check and double-check your site regularly, the same way you would regularly send staff through your store to tidy displays.  Proofread, make sure links work, and get second opinions.

There is $664 billion dollars worth of home decor that is expected to be purchased by 2020, and we, at GoAntiques want you all to have a great big piece of that pie…with whipped cream!

Update My Storefront

Let the Renovations Begin!

Best Regards,
The GoAntiques Team

Not a GoAntiques Seller? Click Here to Learn More about why we’re the most cost effective marketplace for Dealers

References:

Fall has come…

but that doesn’t mean we have to hole up just yet. Use every night you can to enjoy being outside. Fairy lights have become Edison lights, great vintage chairs don’t have to match, an antique, rustic table that can seat a crowd is perfect. Pile on flowers and greenery! Use all manner of old lanterns like starlight; they are perfect in profusion. Drag your vintage, beautiful things outside, light it up with laughter, and enjoy that wonderful sense of rest that happens when you can still be outside for hours at a time! Hooray for warm days, balmy evenings, with a bit of snap, and great friends! Image from Pinterest. Looking for more like this? Visit our Style Shakedown section for all things Design Inspiration

You can find items like the ones in this photo at GoAntiques.com! Click the images below for more information.

Rustic Farmhouse Dining Table

1930’s Antique Enamel Porcelain Babybath with stand – makess a great planter

 

Lennart Bender Mid-Century Chair

French Country Farmhouse Dining Chair

GoAntiques social media channels are building a following, with the goal of capturing not only the serious collector, but also the design-influenced buyer, a market with great spending power, as mentioned in the July Newsletter, The HGTV Effect. The channels use text and interior decor photos, carefully chosen to inspire followers, who in turn search GoAntiques storefronts to find the items that turn this inspiration into reality. Follow us on Instagram (@go_antiques) and Pinterest (@goantiques) to see the types of items that this market wants.

 

Google Analytics show us where buyers travel, and what they do. Currently, 65% of buyers leave the website after searching for an item. Research has shown us that the visual clarity of item images plays a large role in buyers committing to making a purchase.

We’re sure plenty of questions are driving your thoughts. I don’t have a lighting setup, I operate out of my home, do you really think I have the money to take these photos? Your inventory photos don’t need a magazine photographers’ skills. As long as your inventory photos are sharp, well-lit, solid images; there is a higher potential for a completed sale. To finish, here are 5 tips for taking better inventory photos:

  1. Always Upload Sharp, High Quality Photos. If your photo is not sharp, or is grainy enough to make the image blurry, use something (a tripod, stack of books, etc)  to steady your camera or smartphone. Sharp photos are absolutely critical. Uploading high resolution images is important, because photos lose quality when they are transferred.
  2. Include as Many Angles and Details as You Can.  Include details, all sides, any labels, tags or makers’ marks, and wear & tear areas. Anything a customer would check in a brick & mortar store should be photographed.

  3. Use Diffused, Natural Lighting as much as possible (outside in shade, inside near window, white tent). Your camera or iPhone’s flash is NOT your friend here. Flashes cause hot spots, uneven lighting, dark shadows, and an unnatural color cast. An image yellowed by lack of light or bad flash is unattractive and works against your sales.

  4. Make the Product Take up Most of the Frame, removing unnecessary background space brings the focus of your photo onto the item. Be sure to include a yardstick (something standard) for scale.

  5. Keep the background clear, consistent & neutral.  White is the easiest background to recreate time after time. Consistency, in your backgrounds, reads well on storefront feeds. Small items can be shot in a light tent or on seamless paper for very little cost.

 

Looking for more? There are hundreds of articles and YouTube videos that teach non-photographers how to shoot inventory, as well as how to create an inexpensive set-up you can use repeatedly. If you are interested in learning more about DIY photography, here are a few of our favorites: