One year ago we expanded into an upstairs area at Terrace Oaks Mall. The extra space allowed us to bring more merchandise like framed mirrors, books, vintage linens (a passion for Susan), and other unusual items for sale. Susan has often shopped for anything she could use in her art at the Tuesday night table lot sales at Bill Mishoe's Auction House. For those who do not know about table lot auctions, when you buy a table lot you get EVERYTHING on the table, and it is your responsibility to remove it that night. Generally the prices on these lots are quite inexpensive, but you end up with "stuff" that you don't want. She keeps the best stuff and tries to give away the rest to the "flea market" dealers. It is the best of both worlds (as long as she can get rid of the stuff she does not want; we got rid of our dumpster years ago!) when she can buy "found object" art and sell the other merchandise to pay for the lots. In essence, she pays nothing for her art stuff (at least in theory). This is where Terrace Oaks has benefited. The dealers love to pick through all the unusual stuff we bring to the mall, as well as her extremely reasonably-priced linens.
Over the past weekend I examined our sales for the year and discovered some interesting statistics. We do sell a lot of "stuff" and for the most part we have been able to pay "booth rent" and even make a little money. The problem is the word "little". Mirror sales have not been what we hoped for. Sales of framed antique pictures and Audubon birds have been way off since April. This could be a cyclical phenomenon or a change of shopper's buying habits or people just looking for inexpensive wall art for their rooms. As Susan and I discovered at our last visit to the mall (she's known this for awhile), you can find a lot of that at Terrace Oaks Mall. Please note that I am not whining about this, but it is a fact. There is a lot of reproduction framed prints and NEW original art at affordable prices. I know that in the ideal world Camille, the owner, would like to eliminate a great deal of this "new" merchandise, but it is impractical and probably not "cost effective" during this recessionary period. This has created a quandary with our framed merchandise. Here is our solution.
We will still only sell antiquarian and special vintage framed and unframed prints (with the exception of the Audubons) at Terrace Oaks Mall. We will maintain a nice, albeit, a smaller selection of fine larger framed antique images and will introduce more one-of-a-kind antique pieces at great prices. We have not given up on mirrors; instead we (actually Susan who is infinitely better at this than me) are going to rehang the stairwell area and saturate it with more mirrors. We both believe that shoppers do not properly see our mirrors in the upstairs room. This will be a different look on the stairs and we hope a positive one. The walls in the upstairs room will be hung with our Audubon birds. The bookcases, prints, and non-linen related items will remain in this booth.
The upstairs bathroom will be converted into the "linen closet" where all fabric related merchandise will be displayed. Many of the antiquarian prints in the room will either be rehung downstairs or returned to the Mouse House. Additional mirrors will be used to generate more light in this room.
The reshuffling will begin on Friday, October 1. We hope this will become a successful change with our merchandise. At least it will be different, especially the "wall of mirrors" on the landing.
We'll give it a few months and then reevaluate our decision.