Embracing Amazon

The last job that I had before I went solo was as a buyer for a Public Lands visitor center store. I loved that job, but I had decided it was now or never in terms of opening my brick and mortar store and going all-in. I had that one co-worker though… You know who I’m talking about. The one that doesn’t understand boundaries between what your job is and what their job is. The one that you try to like, but you just can’t. The one who says the stupidest damn things ALL THE TIME. That one.

In this case, she came to the park after closing her own brick and mortar store. She swore up and down that it was Amazon’s fault because she just couldn’t compete with their prices, and she tried to lead boycotts against them. Now, anyone who owns a business knows the feeling, but most of us find ways to work with the big boys, instead of against them. Because let’s face it–trying to beat them is about as productive as screaming into a hurricane.

So what do you do when you can’t compete with Amazon’s prices? You give people reasons to come to your store instead of shopping online. You carry a mix of products that can be found online, and a lot of things that can’t. You provide superior customer service. You hold events, you contribute to local events, local arts, local causes. You explain why it’s important to support small businesses. Is it easy? NO! But it’s important.

And you also do business with Amazon. Or eBay. Or Etsy. Or Wal-Mart. Or whoever.

I’ve been selling online since 2007, and specifically on Amazon for five years. I also just recently began as an Amazon Affiliate, which is why you’ll see product links on our Facebook page, and eventually on the blog (once I figure all that out…in my copious free time…)  Why? Because if you’re going to shop on Amazon anyway–and let’s face it, almost all of us do–I can share really cool things that I find there with my awesome customers and if you buy stuff through my link, I get a small commission. That means, that while you’re buying stuff that you would normally buy on Amazon anyway, YOU’RE STILL SUPPORTING YOUR FAVORITE SMALL BUSINESS. Do you realize how huge that is? It’s a win-win for everyone.

What’s that old saying? Oh yeah– If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

Foodie Traveler: Oceans & Ale, Williamsburg, VA

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Stephan and I recently moved into a new rental house in order to get a little more space, some storage space, and two parking spaces! The house we had been renting had a very short driveway that only one of us could park in, so I usually parked on the street in front of the house. The only problem was that our neighbors across the street frequently chose to park in my spot instead. Grrrrrrrr.

So, the first weekend in March, we moved into our new place, which is awesome! It is also in a neighborhood right across Olde Towne Road from the Premium Outlets. Since we can see Oceans & Ale from our kitchen window, we decided to head over for dinner to celebrate the move and some work accomplishments.

Oceans and ale beer

We only had to wait a few minutes for a table since it was a Tuesday night, but you should be prepared for a longer wait on the weekends. We started by looking over their beverage menu, and decided on 8 ounce pours of two of the selections from their Rotating Taps menu–Double Vibes Blackberry Sour for me and Clockwork Stout for Stephan. The Double Vibes was from Crooked Run Brewery in Sterling, VA and was incredible! It is a Berliner Weisse with double blackberry, vanilla, and milk sugar. It was thick and sweet, and I REALLY wish I had gone for the larger size! The Clockwork Imperial Stout was from Commonwealth Brewing in Virginia Beach, and Stephan loved it. I smelled it, but didn’t try it because stouts make me want to shave my tongue (I don’t do coffee).

We then moved on to the task of trying to narrow down what we wanted to eat! We stuck to a seafood theme and ordered Seafood Nachos, Seafood Mac, and Seafood Spring Rolls.  Because we were sharing everything, we asked that all of it come out at the same time. We started with the nachos because the other two were insanely hot and we wanted to give them some time to cool down.

The nachos are made up of corn tortilla chips, lump crab, shrimp, lettuce, tomato, green onions, sour cream, hot sauce, and their awesome she-crab soup. We ate Every. Single. Bite. The soup didn’t make the nachos too soft–it added just enough flavor and moisture to each chip. We ordered the full size order, but would probably try the half order next time.

When we could safely try the spring rolls and the seafood mac, we found that they were just as good. The spring rolls were stuffed with shrimp, crab, vegetables, and mozzarella and were lightly fried and served with a tangy sauce. The flavor and texture were perfect–we will definitely get these again.

The mac n cheese was baked and served in a cast iron pan and was made up of macaroni, she-crab soup, lobster, crab, shrimp, scallops, and a three cheese sauce. It was delicious, but a little bit dry. A little more soup or a little more cheese sauce would have fixed it right up, but since we cleaned the pan, it obviously wasn’t too much of a problem!

 

About halfway through the food, we decided to get another round of drinks. We shared the Victory Brewing Sour Monkey and the Classic Mule. The Sour Monkey was awesome, but my taste buds and my heart had been stolen by the Double Vibes already! The mule was made with Absolut Citron, ginger beer, and lime and was a lovely take on a classic. One or two of those on a hot day, sitting on the patio would be lovely!

creme brulee cheesecake

For dessert, we split the Creme Brulee Cheesecake. It was light and creamy, with the classic burnt sugar topping that you’d find on Creme Brulee. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful meal, though I was surprised that we had room for it!

Since we live so close, we’ve already made plans to go back–next time we want to split the spring rolls again and get bowls of the she-crab soup. And beer. Definitely beer.

Oceans & Ale is open Sunday through Thursday from 11:30 am to midnight, and Friday and Saturday from 11:30 am to 2 am. They’re located in the Premium Outlets at 5601-I Richmond Road, Williamsburg, VA 23188 and you can check out their menus at https://www.oceansandale.com/

Whether you’re a Williamsburg local or a visitor to our fair city, please check them out–they’re worth the trip!

How We Transformed Our Store From An Empty Box to A Fun Retail Space On A Small Budget

 

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When you walk into a shop–not a grocery store or big box store, but a boutique or mom and pop shop, or specialty shop–what do you notice first besides the merchandise? The lighting? The fixtures? The way it smells? Or maybe the way it makes you feel? Is it welcoming? Cozy? Bright and exciting? Sleek and modern? We’ve all been in stores that make us want to come back, and unfortunately, we’ve also been in stores that we have no interest in going back to. Maybe it’s messy, or disorganized. Maybe it smells funky, Maybe the store is fine, but the vibe is off. Building a brick and mortar space entails a lot more than just putting products on shelves and opening the doors!

When we moved into our current space, it had been vacant for 7-8 years and had previously been a Hallmark store. When the previous tenants left, they removed their fixtures, spackled the holes, and split. We got a big empty rectangle that desperately needed paint, but was in otherwise great condition. In comparison, the space that we had occupied for three years had mold and asbestos, holes in the flooring, half the light fixtures didn’t work, the windows and floor shook when a truck went by, and the floor was rotting in the back room. Oh–and the back door was held closed by a large wooden beam since the lock barely worked. Can we say upgrade? Oh yeah.

While I would love to have afforded new fixtures that actually match, wood floors, and great lighting, that wasn’t possible. Besides, the mix of fixtures that we have is fun and quirky and suits our style! Someday maybe we can get the floors and the lights, but in the meantime, we kept the basic but durable carpeting and the fluorescent lights.

The first thing that we did was buy paint–a LOT of paint. We chose a super pale gray that changes the look of the walls depending on the time of day and what kind of light is coming in the windows. Sometimes it’s gray, sometimes it’s blue, sometimes it’s lavender. It’s magic paint!!! Seriously–it’s just a nice neutral that looks great with the fixtures and the merchandise. The old store was painted eggplant. I loved it, but it was dark and didn’t showcase the stuff we were trying to sell very well.

Once the walls were finished and the store lost that musty, unused smell, it was on to building the stage. We host music, storytelling, Celtic nights, meetings, and other events, so we wanted a dedicated stage area in the back of the store. We had risers set up in the front corner of the old store that worked alright, but this is so much better.

half finshed stage

We bought sheets of paneling at Home Depot that look like pallet wood and nailed them to the back wall. See what the right side looked like before the paneling went up? That’s what the whole store looked like before we painted.

finished stage

We also bought 2×6 boards and plywood to build the stage, and covered it with thin carpeting. We painted the door in chalkboard paint to blend in better with the paneling. The plan eventually is to have a local artist decorate it, which is why we went with chalk paint instead of plain old black paint. The sign was actually the exterior sign from our first location, that the city said we couldn’t use at the second location. We planted it in the middle of a sheet of plywood and covered it with vinyl records (NOTE: no playable vinyl was used in the making of this sign). Voila! Stage sign. With the help of some strong friends, we got it hoisted up onto the wall and attached it with strong fasteners.

Then we moved on to figuring out where all the fixtures were going to go. We have a collection of fixtures that we bought new, things we bought secondhand, things we were given, a few family pieces, and things that people just dropped off out of the blue. We even have an old hospital gurney holding crates of records! It’s perfect for holding the weight of the albums. Luckily, all we had to buy for the new space was gridwall for the art wall, and wooden crates for the records (we upgraded from cardboard boxes and it looks so much better). Even though we’re in a bigger space, we didn’t need to buy much because we inherited some awesome fixtures from a store that had gone out of business and got a some from a friend who had renovated her store.

These photos show roughly what the store looks like today, a year after moving in, though we’ve added more art to the walls.

The other side of the room holds vinyl records, CDs, DVDs, comics, our sitting areas, and the register area. It also has our featured artist of the month section, which is in the front corner of the store.

So that’s it! I wrote this post because I LOVE looking at store fixtures and signage and displays on Pinterest. It’s great to see a beautiful store that was put together by an interior designer and looks amazing, but most independent store owners don’t have the same resources that chain stores do. I like taking inspiration from what others have done on a shoestring, and I hope that what we’ve done can inspire someone else the same way!

If you find yourself in Williamsburg, Virginia, come by and say hello! Retro Daddio is located at 6610 V Mooretown Road, Williamsburg, VA 23188. (757) 220-1876 or check us out at https://stores.shopretrodaddio.com

 

 

 

January Convention Report: IllogiCon & MarsCon

January con programs

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I usually vend at two to three conventions each month. Science fiction, horror, comic cons, library cons, literary cons–I love all of them. In January, I vended at two sci-fi conventions: IllogiCon in Raleigh, NC and MarsCon in Williamsburg, VA.

IllogiCon is in its eighth year and was held January 11-13 at the Embassy Suites Raleigh Durham/Brier Creek and the Hampton Inn next door. Gaming and author readings were held at the Hampton and the rest of the programming was at the Embassy Suites. This year’s theme was Pirates vs Robots. It’s a small convention, with approximately 350 attendees and a strong literary emphasis. There were authors everywhere–it was fabulous!

illogicon dealer room

The dealer room is medium-sized, and the dealer room coordinator is awesome (that’s my booth in the center of the photo–prime real estate!) Merchandise included books, jewelry, stickers, art, steampunk gear, laser-engraved chopsticks, wands, adorable clay creations, and more.

 

Guests of Honor included authors Annalee Newitz and Tracy Deonn Walker, and musical artists Valentine Wolfe (AMAZING, by the way…)

 

Other entertainment included Metricula and the League of Extraordinary Belly Dancers (both pictured above), a costume contest, burlesque show, and more.

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There was even a marriage proposal between two of the longtime convention staffers (and really wonderful people! Congrats Avery and Alex!)

 

Panels included lots of writing and publishing discussions, readings, LGBTQIA in fandom panels (this year, the badges had a space for you to fill in your preferred pronouns, which I thought was kind of cool–hadn’t seen that before), talks about Star Trek, various films, gaming, comics, disabilities in fandom, and so much more! There is also a charity auction, a con suite that provides snacks for the attendees, a dedicated gaming room, and of course the vendor room.

jett and chris

This is a great convention to kick off the year. It’s small and laid back and has a family feel to it (not just family friendly, but as if everyone is family). If you don’t have friends in attendance already, you’ll make new ones over the course of the weekend. Everyone I encountered was super nice! This was my second year vending at IllogiCon, but I hadn’t been able to vend the two previous years since it was the same weekend as MarsCon. They’re not supposed to overlap again for a number of years, so I’ll definitely be back!

january booth setup

MarsCon is in its 29th year and was held at the Doubletree Resort in Williamsburg  January 18-20. This year’s theme was The Land of the Faerie and the decorating team did an amazing job of transforming spaces into fairyland! MarsCon had approximately 1450 attendees this year and while it has a sci-fi/fantasy focus, tons of fandoms are represented.

There is a huge dealer room and a smaller artist/author alley, as well as a large art room where works up for auction were displayed. There were books, games and supplies, elf ears, steampunk gear, crocheted goods, wands, potions, etched glass, pillows, adorable clay dragons, purses and totes, leather goods, corsets, art, jewelry, apparel, and so much more. MarsCon has a really well-rounded room that offers something for everyone, at a variety of price points.

Guests of honor this year included authors Seanan McGuire and Catherynne Valente, artist Meredith Dillman, game designer and editor Carinn Seabolt, and Musical artists Valentine Wolfe. Yes–there is some crossover in guests at these two conventions, so if you miss them at one convention, you have a chance to see them at the other!

 

Other entertainers included Mikey Mason (who is freaking hilarious–do yourself a favor and check him out!), Metricula, The Misbehavin’ Maidens, a burlesque show, filking, Flabbergast the Wizard, Luna-C and their own brand of geek humor theatre, White Plectrum, the Blibbering Humdingers, and more.

 

There was also a costume contest, a charity auction, a con suite that feeds three meals a day plus snacks to the attendees, children’s programming, a craft corner, water quidditch, mermaid swimming lessons, steampunk teapot racing, a jamboree with carnival games, music, etc, Nerf gun wars, a dedicated gaming room, video game room, anime room, and SO MUCH MORE. Dozens of panels on every topic you can think of, discussions with the guests of honor, readings, workshops, a vaudeville show, trivia challenges, a Doctor Who Tea Party—there is seriously no possible way to be bored at this convention! This was my fifth year vending at MarsCon, and I think I’ve been on the staff for three years? I just started helping with stuff and ended up on staff! It’s definitely one of my favorite conventions of the year!

 

Please check out the websites and Facebook pages for both conventions–you need to start planning your cosplay for next year! https://www.illogicon.org and https:// www.marscon.net Dates for 2020 should be January 10-12 for IllogiCon and will be January 17-19 for MarsCon.

Psst..that’s me waving in the background. Travis said “Hey Jen–wave!”

Photo credits: IllogiCon staff, James Rippe at Ripptowne Photography, and Steven Lee Munger.

fairy

 

 

Five Simple Ways to Support Your Favorite Small Business

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Since we moved our brick and mortar store across town a year ago, I’ve had tons of people coming into the new location saying “We found you! We thought you had gone out of business!” Thankfully, we didn’t go out of business, but it made me think about ways that anyone can help support and promote a business that they love.

ONE: Like or follow their social media pages. Almost all businesses are online these days and most have a social media presence. It seems like a no-brainer, but follow their pages! I have to wonder how many of the people that thought my store closed, checked Facebook, or Instagram, or Trip Advisor, or Yelp, or Google. If you follow a social media page, you’re more likely to know about events, news, sales, or big news, like relocations or closures.

TWO: Share their social media posts. Again–very simple and takes almost no time. If your favorite store is having a sale, or a concert, or a party, or is sharing some other news, share it with your friends. The more people that see the post, the more likely it is to be successful. Besides, you might just convert your friends into fans of the business as well!

THREE: Leave reviews on Google. Leave reviews on Trip Advisor. Leave reviews on Yelp. Leave reviews on Facebook. SPREAD THE WORD. Let people know they exist and that you love them. Let people know WHY you love them. Use specific examples so that other people will get excited about the same things that you love!

FOUR:  Attend their events. Buy tickets. Tell your friends to buy tickets. Attend their free events, but not ONLY their free events. We work really hard to bring a variety of interesting programs to our store–music, storytelling, holiday events, burlesque– and rarely break even after paying the performers. Performers don’t work for free–supporting them means spending money. If you want interesting programs to continue, the store has to pay for them, and you have to buy tickets. If there’s no return on investment, there will be fewer offerings. If we consistently lose money by putting on these shows, there will be no future programming. It sucks, but that’s the reality of the situation.

FIVE:  This seems like the most obvious thing in the world, but if you want a business to stay IN business, shop there. Shop regularly. Not necessarily every week, but regularly. Need a holiday gift? Anniversary gift? Birthday gift? Shop there. Need a greeting card? Shop there. Need a secret Santa gift, stocking stuffer, or little surprise present? Shop there. Make it your go-to place. As an add-on to that, when people ask you “Where did you get that?” tell them. Let them know some of your favorite things. Have friends who like the same things that you do? Tell them! Become a brand ambassador for the places and things that you love.

Obviously, since I own a shop, these points are skewed toward a retail store, but the same applies to any kind of business–restaurant, food truck, hair salon, pet sitter, groomer, auto mechanic/detailer, whatever. The point is the same–shop, share, and show up.

 

 

How to Create A Retail Credit Sheet for Your Small Business

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When I got hired for my first retail buyer job, it was for a museum store at a brand new historical attraction. I was the buyer and store manager and there was NO ONE else on staff with retail experience. I had no idea how to go about requesting terms from wholesale companies and the museum’s management didn’t want the buyer to have a credit card, as is standard for most companies. Luckily, I had some awesome wholesale reps who walked me through the process and I’m going to share what they taught me with you!

You have a few options for paying for merchandise from a wholesaler. You can pay with a credit card, you can ask for a total and prepay with a company check, you can SOMETIMES pay cash on delivery, or you can submit a purchase order and pay on account.  Most companies (though not all) offer retailers terms known at Net 30. This means that you have 30 days from the date that the merchandise ships to pay the invoice.

Many wholesale companies have their own credit application that they want you to fill out, but most just request that you send your credit sheet. Also, when you attend gift shows to find new product lines, you’ll need a stack of credit sheets (preferably with your business card attached) to streamline the ordering process. So how do you create one? In many ways, creating a credit sheet is like creating a resume for your business.

At the top of the page, list your business name, address, and telephone number. I then break mine down into categories. I list my company’s mission statement so the wholesaler has an idea of what Retro Daddio is all about.  I then list the administrative staff.  Currently, mine just has my name, title, email address, and phone number.  Depending on the size of your business, you’ll want to list your CEO, Director of Retail, Buyer, Accounts Payable officer, etc.  and their contact phone number and/or email address.

Next, list the business’ Federal Tax ID and state sales tax ID number.  Next up is your bank reference.  Include the name, address, and telephone number of your bank, your banker’s name if you have a specific person that you work with, and your account number.  Because I’ve had my identity stolen and my accounts hacked more than once, I prefer to not make it any easier than absolutely necessary for anyone to gain access to my information, so I only provide the last four digits of my account number on my credit sheet. Only once, have I been asked for the entire account number, and I gave it over the telephone to a well-established company that I trusted.

The last section that you absolutely need to include is Trade References.  List at least three companies that you already have Net 30 terms with. Don’t have terms with anyone yet?  No worries. Once you’ve ordered and paid with a credit card a few times, most companies will allow you to establish terms.  They might give you a relatively low limit at first, but you’ll have credit.  After you’ve ordered and paid your invoices on time for a few months, use these companies as your trade references.  Include the company name, address, telephone number, fax number if they have one, and your account number.

I also list my social networking links–my online store/website address, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. You can also add LinkedIn, Twitter, or other accounts if you choose. It’s entirely up to you whether you want to include this section or not–I do because if the wholesaler chooses to check them out, they’ll see that we’ve had an online presence for several years and they can check out our photos to see similar product lines that their products will mesh with.

I definitely recommend that you keep the sheet to one page. As I said earlier, if you attend a gift show and meet with wholesale reps, you’ll want to have a stack of credit sheets with your business card attached and a copy of your tax ID certificate stapled to the back. These can get heavy when you’re toting around a stack of them AND catalogs, AND business cards that absolutely everyone is going to hand to you, AND line sheets, AND samples, AND whatever else reps hand you to entice you to order their products. Do yourself a favor and keep the weight to a minimum!

 

How to Build The Perfect Convention or Craft Show Toolkit

 

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Years ago when I started vending at craft shows, I showed up with my wares for sale, a paper bag full of plastic grocery bags that I had saved, and a metal cookie canister that I used as a cash box. As I turned my hobby into a business, I realized that I might actually need to expand my kit. A Lot.

Whether you sell at comic cons, craft shows, music festivals, fairs, science fiction conventions, or any other venue, you’re going to need stuff.  I vend at 24-26 conventions per year, and these are the things that are necessities for me. You may find that you don’t need some of these items, so feel free to substitute as needed.

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  • The Vessel:  At the moment, I’m using a small plastic toolbox to hold small items and I pack that into a large tote bag with everything else.  You can use a tool box, tackle box, duffel bag, tote bag, plastic bin–whatever works for you and fits your stuff.
  • A Server Apron:  After emptying the toolbox, I used to place it on a chair behind my table and use it as a cash box. About a year ago, however, I was vending at a comic con where my neighbors brought attendees into their space to play video games while other attendees stood around watching and waiting for their turn to play.  When I realized that total strangers were standing behind MY table, inches away from my cash box, I decided that I needed another solution.  As soon as I got home, I ordered a black, 3 pocket server apron and have used it ever since.
  • Aspirin/Pain Reliever:  Conventions can be LOUD–particularly comic cons. You’d be surprised how often you’ll get a headache. Having suffered through a gall bladder attack one convention weekend, I cannot tell you how valuable pain relievers were! Do yourself a favor–toss a bottle into your kit.
  • Bandages, Small First Aid Kit, Nail File/Clippers:  Cuts and scrapes while setting up or breaking down, broken fingernails from grabbing your gridwall the wrong way, blisters, paper cuts–you’ll experience them all at one point or another.
  • Scissors, Scotch Tape, Cardstock, Sharpies: for making last minute signs.
  • Sales Book With Extra Pens: I know several vendors who don’t write down their sales. They merely add up their cash and credit card sales at the end of the show. How do they keep track of their inventory? I have absolutely no idea. I keep a sales record book (like a server uses to write down your order at a restaurant) to write down what I’ve sold and to note whether the sale was paid for with cash or credit. I also keep some extra pens on hand because you never know when one is going to run out of ink, when a customer is going to walk away with one, or when one of your neighbors will need one. You can get a ten pack of decent pens at the dollar store, so it’s a no-brainer.
  • Zip Ties:  I have several sections of 6’x2′ gridwall that I use to display my merchandise.  I use zip ties to connect the panels to one another and to secure the grid to the legs of my tables to ensure that they won’t fall over from the weight of the merchandise displayed on them.
  • A Calculator:  Always handy for adding up totals, calculating tax, etc. Also bring a key chain-style flashlight since you never know if your booth is going to be in a well-lit area or a dark one. The flashlight can be invaluable for activating the solar panel on your calculator.
  • A Card Reader: Most vendors nowadays accept credit cards through Square, PayPal, or other services.  Those that don’t accept cards are more likely to lose out on sales, so make it easy for customers to give you their money! Keep a reader in your kit and you’ll always be ready.
  • A Phone Charger and Portable Power Supply:  You may or may not have an electrical outlet at your booth when vending in a hotel conference center. You most likely will not have power at a convention center unless you make arrangements for it ahead of time and pay a hefty fee for it. If you do have a power source–great! Keep a charger handy in case all those credit cards you’re running drain your battery. If not, having a backup charger can be a lifesaver. Some of the larger convention centers tend to drain your battery completely within a matter of hours. Suspicious? Yes. But it’s also a reality that you have to plan for. Don’t run out of power and risk losing those sales.
  • Safety Pins:  No one ever seems to have these with them, but you may find you need them for personal needs, pinning tablecloths or banners, etc.  You will also be a hero to every cosplayer with a costume emergency.
  • Lanyards:  Depending on the show, you might receive a wristband, a badge with a lanyard, or a pin-back badge.  I find the pin-back badge holders super annoying, so I keep extra lanyards in my kit so that I can turn them into ones that I can just pop over my head. Easy.
  • Wipes or Hand Sanitizer:  Con Crud is real, people. Help cut down the spread with liberal use of hand sanitizer and frequent hand-washing.
  • Mints, Hard Candy, or Cough Drops:  As vendors, we talk A LOT over the course of a weekend. Help soothe your throat and protect your voice.
  • Business Cards:  Keep a good supply on hand to promote your business and drive customers to your store, website, or social media pages.  I also hand a card to each customer that pays by credit card and tell them that I’m giving them my card so that when they get their credit card statement, they won’t wonder what the heck Retro Daddio is. It drastically cuts down chargebacks from people who don’t remember what they bought or who they bought it from.
  • Emergen-C or Airborne:  Between load-in, set-up, long show hours, breakdown, load-out, and long drives to and from the venue, conventions take a toll on your body.  A shot of vitamin C or an electrolyte drink can do wonders to help you feel better.
  • A Sweater or Hoodie:  Dress in layers. Vendor rooms can be overly warm when packed with bodies, but are notoriously chilly. Dress for a warm room, but bring a sweater, jacket, or hoodie to put on in case you get cold.
  • Refillable Water Bottle:  Many large convention centers have restrictions on what food and beverages you can bring in to your booth. Some don’t even allow you to bring in your own water–you have to buy your refreshments from their vendors.  They will usually let you bring in a refillable bottle and fill it from the water fountain though, so keep one in your kit and save a few dollars.
  • Tablecloths:  Most hotel conventions provide tablecloths on their vendor tables. Most convention center and library conventions do not. Keep some on hand to cover the tables before putting your merchandise on them for sale, and for covering the merchandise at the end of the day. They help to signal to customers that your booth or table isn’t open for the day yet.

This is a good starting point, though you’ll most likely want to add some items and omit others. I find that I use all of these at most conventions, but what you need will vary depending on what you sell, what display items you use, and other factors, so just do what works for you!

So You Want To Sell Your Vinyl Record Collection…

 

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The sales of vinyl records has exploded over the past few years. It wasn’t that long ago that you couldn’t give albums away, but they’re in high demand now!

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My store Retro Daddio sells pre-owned CDs and vinyl records as part of our regular offerings, so I’ve seen a LOT of records that people have brought in hoping to sell.

  • Records that look like someone took a chisel to them.
  • Records with candle wax all over them.
  • Records without their jackets.
  • Records in the wrong jacket.
  • Records that have the jacket stuck to them because they went through a flood “but the vinyl’s just fine.”
  • Records in boxes that pets have peed on.
  • Records in boxes full of mouse droppings.
  • Records covered in mold.

People. If you don’t want to touch them, I probably don’t either.

So here are some basic guidelines to keep in mind when trying to sell your collection to a record store:

  1. Condition is everything. Take a look at each record. If there are fingerprints or minor surface scratches from normal wear, those are probably fine. However, if you run your fingernail over the scratch and can feel it, it’s most likely going to skip and the store probably won’t buy it. If it’s covered in mold, mildew, wax, or dirt (not dust–actual dirt), the store probably won’t buy it. If it’s not in the original jacket, the store probably won’t buy it. The records don’t have to be pristine (though it’s awesome if they are), but they do have to be playable and free of obvious defects. Records are heavy! Save yourself the trouble of hauling boxes of records in and out of the store if they’re not going to sell.
  2. Be realistic about the value of your collection. You looked up your records in a price guide or online? Great! Except those values are probably not even close to accurate. Price guides are great for helping to determine if you have a first pressing or a later one. The number, the color of the label, etc will help you figure out if that copy of Abbey Road is valued in the $100ish range (1960s), the $20ish range (1970s), or the $10ish range(mid 1980s). What it won’t do is tell you how much your record is currently selling for. Price guides provide an estimate of what a record is selling for at the time the guide is being researched and those prices are based on both the record and the jacket being in near mint condition. Basically, if you unwrap a brand new album and play it once, it’s now in near-mint condition. Otherwise, cut the value listed in the book by at least half. Looked up your record on eBay or Discogs? I can list a band-aid on those sites for $100. It doesn’t mean it will SELL for that price. If you’re using eBay as a guide, go to the left side of the page and click on Sold Listings. That will show you what your album has actually sold for recently. The reality is that most records sell for ten dollars or less at retail, despite what people try to list them for.
  3. Understand that the record store has to make money when reselling your record. If you sell them and ship them yourself on eBay or another site, you’ll get the retail price (if it sells) minus the fees and percentages that site charges. If you sell them to a record store, they’re going to pay you a wholesale rate because they have to mark them up in order to make money to keep the store running. Some records will sell quickly, but many, if not most, will take a few weeks or a few months to sell. They tie up capital and square footage in the store (these are known as carrying costs), so you’re likely to get paid less for less popular albums. At Retro Daddio, the majority of our records sell for between two and five dollars and we pay between fifty cents and a dollar apiece. In general, you can expect to receive 1/3 to 1/5 of the retail price when you sell to a record store. Please don’t be offended by the offer. If you don’t think it’s high enough, you can take them to another store and try your luck there. In general, most stores pay about the same rate, but one store might have a greater need for your records than another at that time. And on that note, when it comes to vinyl that’s been released in the past few years–yes I know that you just paid $20-$30 for that record, but as soon as you take it out of the cellophane, it’s no longer new. Once it becomes a used record, the retail price drops to between $10 and $15 and you can expect to receive between $2 and $5 when selling to a record store . No one is trying to rip you off–it’s just the reality of depreciation.
  4. Do not be offended if the store declines to purchase your collection. The condition may not be good enough for resale. The genre might not be right for that store (at Retro Daddio, country, classical, gospel, and orchestra music are on the Do Not Buy list, with a few exceptions like Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline.)  The record buyer knows what will and will not sell in their store. There may be other stores looking for your genre, so don’t get upset–just try somewhere else. It’s also possible that the store already has multiple copies of the same albums that you’re trying to sell and just doesn’t need any more at that time. It’s nothing personal and is not a judgement on your taste in music.

If you keep these things in mind, you and your record buyer will find your transaction much easier and you’ll be much more likely to come to an agreement that makes both of you happy!

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