This was a major week at Etsy as my store sales hit that wonder number: 1000. I feel like that storybook turtle who finally crossed the finish line! Having started in 2008 it seems like a very long time in the making, and then it seems like a blink of an eye - all wrapped into one. So for sure this benchmark of retail sales causes me to pause and think.
Lots of stores reach this number very quickly. Being in the antiques and vintage goods retail business, it came much slower. So here are a few ideas that seem clear to me now and I offer them so that others starting out on Etsy will feel encouraged to stick with it.
Straight and Steady
The only way to keep progressing is to keep on going. Simple right? Actually it is. There have been so many times when I got discouraged. Comparing the shop to other vintage shops seemed like a constant reminder that I wasn't "doing" something right. About a year ago it finally hit me - antiques are unique - so why even think that I can even compare the store to other stores?
What matters is what works for my particular line of goods and the consistency it takes to show them off. Follow the crowd here and there only holds me in the middle of a pack moving to and fro in a million directions. Keeping a steady pace in one direction has been key. Yes, be flexible and change when needed. But do it with focus and a little at a time.
Fresh is Best
No matter where I promote and advertise, on Etsy there is 1 Golden Rule to keep: list something new every day or at least several times per week. Period. If I feel that one particular line of vintage isn't moving, the best way to bring it forward into potential customers' eyes is to list a new item in that category! Google and other search engines love new material. Etsy pages love new material. Treasury builders like new materials. Customers like to see new items. But once they are in the store and see there is a whole department of "this new stuff" they are likely to look at others! So I promote the whole category by spending $.20 and listing a new product.
Know Your Treasures
If you are a home builder, you must know about tools. If you are a dentist, you must know teeth. If you are an engineer you must know certain laws of science. If you are an antiques seller, you must know details about your product! How old? What materials? Particular historic style? Any social history? Famous designers? I have to admit that research has been the greatest gift of my
business! Learning about life through object is a fascinating path -
and a whole article in itself! When I don't know (or easily remember) the important details of a product I'm selling, I research. I
love my personal library and use it often. But I have to admit that the Online Library of Life has made researching so much easier and fun. When Google became a verb, I was hooked.
Let me just emphasize that to create a successful vintage store you have to understand the item you are selling. For anyone who thinks you will build a growing business on "I found this old thing and I think it's cool", you should probably consider another line of work. It may work once in a while but not for solid growth.
Treat Customers with Respect
For many years I owned a B&M store and treasured the folks that walked in the front door whether they bought something or not! I carry that same feeling in my online stores too. I don't subscribe to "the customer is always right" principle. I do subscribe to the principle that customers deserve all my attention and respect when they are in my store and writing to me. Learning to read between the lines is crucial just like reading body language is when you are face to face with someone.
Making up excuses is a waste of time. When I goof, I apologize and make it right. Going the extra step fosters favorable impressions and regularly creates repeat customers. I just can't imagine any other way to operate and stay in business for the long haul.
So, Cheers to those who have been part of my online successes! It's been a wonderful ride so far and I'm looking forward to 2000! So much to list...so much to share!