Recently, I was at the thrifts and I came across a cathrineholm lotus leaf bowl. I picked it up, eyed the $.99 sticker and promptly proceeded to do a happy dance in the middle of the aisle. Strange looks aside, I knew I had found something special.
Vintage sellers experience these moments regularly, that moment where your eye and your gut come together to tell your brain to buy this, BUY THIS NOW. It’s that innate experience that many sellers rely on when deciding to take a piece home. Once home though, how to price it so you turn a profit? Read on for some pricing factors to consider.
To determine the cost of your materials, tally the purchase price of the item and all associated costs. Did you have the item professionally cleaned? Buy parts or supplies to restore it? Those all will play into this figure.
Did you painstakingly restore a vintage quilt? Factor your time into the price by noting how long it took you to find, restore, photograph and list your items. Sometimes the cost of your time to restore something will be worth it, sometimes not — it’s up to you to make these hard decisions!
From OxiClean to that shiny new camera, there are real expenses associated with your vintage business. Make sure you’re accounting for your expenses by also factoring them in the price. For a simple way to tally your expenses and boil it down to a cost per item, check out this post.
Here’s where it gets interesting. Something that other pricing formulas exclude is the market value of a vintage piece. The value of items fluctuate with market demand, and things like trends, desirability and availability can all affect market demand. You can determine the value of a vintage piece by following along below:
- Research. Do some digging to uncover the date of the piece, the manufacturer, and any other relevant info that will affect the piece’s value. Sometimes a certain make/model/color/year will be far more valuable than similar items and good research will help you uncover this.
- Compare. Take a look at what else is out there. What are other pieces being sold at?
- Condition. The condition or state of the item will very much play into its value.
- Network. Join a vintage team and poll fellow sellers when determining the value of a piece. The wealth of knowledge and experience being distributed in vintage teams is vital — so embrace it!
I spoke earlier of that gut reaction many vintage sellers utilize when determining to buy. An important exercise before buying something is to understand what profit you’d like to make. If you’re buying an expensive piece that you’re not going to be able to flip for much more, your profit margin will suffer. Also, take a long hard look at your business goals. Maybe you just enjoy sharing your love of vintage with the world, or maybe you want to open a B&M shop to supplement your online business. Whatever your goals are, keep them top of mind when determining your prices.
For even more insight and advice into the art of vintage pricing, check out what other vintage sellers have to say here and here. Also RSVP to attend the Pricing Strategies for Vintage Sellers lab this Wednesday, May 30 at 2 p.m. ET.
What are your top tips for pricing vintage?