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Rehoming vintage: What to do with inventory that isn’t moving
Rehome vintage to other sellers. Photo: cottonbro studio/Pexels

Rehoming vintage: What to do with inventory that isn’t moving


Vintage dealers are experienced in slow-moving inventory — it’s all about waiting for the right buyer to come along. But sometimes, a piece isn’t the right fit for your shop, or you need to clean house to make room for fresh stock. Here are eight ways to move goods, straight from a seller

Vintage sellers are, more often than not, vintage collectors as well. Inclined to see the value in the treasures of yesteryear, it can be difficult to let go of items, even when they no longer fit our shop — or our home — aesthetic. 

And so, every so often, we sort, we style, we arrange, and we purge. At the end of the sweep, we are left with a pile of items and the difficult decision of if (and how) we might part with them. 

Here are eight ways to edit your inventory to stay focused, organized and within your vintage niche as a seller or collector. (If you've landed here with vintage to rehome but you aren't a vintage seller, check out our article What to Do with Your Vintage Items.)

1. Put together a special offer.

Everyone loves a happy customer — and in the world of selling vintage, happy customers are repeat customers.

A thank you offer to previous purchasers can instil some goodwill as well as help you clear out some inventory. Take advantage of the audience you’ve already established with a 10% (or higher, depending how keen you are to turn over the inventory) discount in the form of a coupon code distributed via email or social media.

It truly doesn't have to be more than that. A little incentive can go a long way. 

2. Host a flash sale.

Creating a sense of urgency is a tried-and-true sales technique. If shoppers know that the sale is available for a limited time only, they’ll jump on that item they’ve been eyeing while they can snag it at its new lowered price. 

3. Bundle up a mystery box.

Treasure hunters and antiquers are often of the same breed. We’re enamoured with the thrill of the hunt, and a potential mystery is often just as enticing. This goes double for content creators who can bring their community along on the exploration and discovery of just what might lay within the box. 

Integrity is key to please both seller and shopper when it comes to mystery boxes. Offer enough hints so that the shopper knows what to expect and make sure to be accurate with the value of the items. A great mystery box should contain quality, undamaged items. 

Level up the adventure by individually wrapping each piece and attaching a clue that alludes to its aesthetic, origin or era.

4. Sell to sellers. 

Take advantage of other seller’s niches or preferred aesthetics to see if there is any overlap with the items you’re looking to offload. Ideally, you might pass off the whole lot to someone well positioned to find them a new home. 

Beyond this, individual sellers often have their own communities in search of specific items, even if it’s outside their main focus. It’s worth sending a message to the people who understand this industry the best.


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5. Collaborate on selling initiatives.

Collaboration is key for growing an audience and fostering a culture of mutual success within the vintage seller community. Not to mention, it is another potential way of tapping into one another’s established markets. 

Consider joining forces to host a group sale, either online and in person, which can be a fantastic opportunity to call attention to some of the items that have been languishing on your own shelves. 

6. List on Facebook Marketplace.

Online selling platforms like Facebook Marketplace or Kijiji are a quick and dirty way to make a sale.

There’s less of a need to focus on branding and aesthetic since most shoppers are searching for deals or something specific, rather than shopping from you specifically. 

That being said, take well-lit photos of clean inventory and include a detailed description. You might even receive multiple offers on your item. 

7. Try signing up for an auction service.

Auction services are a fun way to shop and can be a lucrative way to sell items in bulk as lots.

Have a chat with the auction house ahead of time to receive an estimate on the value of your items — don’t be surprised that the amount is different from what you would expect to receive from a more conventional sale, for better or for worse. 

Anticipate paying 10-20% of the profit as a fee to the auctioneer, and then sit back and enjoy the gamble. Based on the number of bids and closing price, you’ll get a sense of the popularity of your lot. You might even gain some insight for future valuation of your inventory. 

8. Donate your items.

When all else fails, it could be time to box up your unwanted inventory and send it off to a thrift store, charity or buy-nothing group. While supporting charity is a noble idea, when it comes to your bottom line as a reseller, it should be a last resort. 

If you’re at this point, it’s worth doing a little cost-benefit analysis. Consider the cost of holding onto your items a while longer. Do you have the space to store it away? Will it contribute to overwhelm to keep them in your home? 

Remember: Beware the sunk cost fallacy! Even if you spent a significant amount of time or money on acquiring these items, what is the true payoff of hanging on?

If you’ve already made a concerted effort to sell to no avail, and unless there’s an indication that the value of the pieces will increase substantially, it’s likely that the benefit of simply letting go will outweigh the cost of hanging on. 

Ultimately, an annual, biannual, or quarterly purge can free up your space to focus on highlighting the items that will bring you the most return on your investment — financially and emotionally. 

Krista Montelpare is a freelance writer based in Nova Scotia and the founder of vintage shop Cellary.

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