How To Open an Antique Booth

From the Greater Columbus Antique Mall to Grandview Mercantile to the Heritage Square Antique Mall, Central Ohio has a treasure trove of antique stores where something old can turn into something new to you.

Such locations house several vendors with individual booths looking to sell their found treasures. If you think your own collection of antiques is booth-worthy, keep reading for some startup advice from three vendors who have been through the process.

Sorting through the goods.
Sorting through the goods.

It all starts with money. 

When starting an antique booth, your funds will go towards two main needs: rent and inventory.

Save up for rent. 

Most antique malls or stores require an upfront deposit, and of course, a monthly fee for renting a space. Before landing a space at the Greater Columbus Antique Mall in German Village, Lisa Dillman researched the market.

“Prices I’ve seen in Central Ohio have been anything from $65 for a small showcase space, all the way up to $150 for a 10-by 15-foot space,” she says. Dillman notes finding higher prices in the suburbs.

The first recommendation for opening an antique booth: a rent nest-egg. Dillman, as well as Modern Kitsch Collective owners and sisters Jenny Javis and Emily Brooks had anywhere from six to 12 months worth of rent in the bank before they opened their spaces.

Set aside money specifically for operating costs, not to be used on inventory.

Modern Kitsch Collective owners, Emily Brooks and Jenny Jarvis.
Modern Kitsch Collective owners, Emily Brooks and Jenny Jarvis.

You have the money, now what space should you rent?

“You always want enough stock to make sure that the booth or store looks full,” says Lauren Marcum of the Columbus Furniture Revival. Smaller spaces often lend themselves to those just starting out, as filling every inch of space is a learned art.

“Get something smaller than you think you need,” Dillman says. Jarvis also notes taking a smaller, more affordable space at the Heritage Square Antique Mall to test the waters.

The ultimate goal is to be able to utilize every square inch of the space you have.

Also, research locations. What’s close to home? Both Dillman and Jarvis picked their respective spaces because of their convenience, among other factors like feeling a natural fit.

“One thing to think about, though, is how far you want to travel to maintain your booth,” Dillman says. A drive down I-70 west and you land in Springfield, a location know for antiquing, but is the about-an-hour drive worth it?  Modern Kitsch Collective chose their space because it was close for both sisters.

Stock up on inventory! 

Once you have your space, you need inventory. Lots of inventory. Stocking up is one of the biggest costs associated with starting a booth. However, this cost can vary, depending on how much you want to invest up front. Jarvis recommends allotting anywhere from $500 to $1,500.

You might want a truck to haul your finds!
You might want a truck to haul your finds!

Start shopping and look for variety. 

The preferred method for finding antiques? Auctions. Marcum, Jarvis and Dillman all look to the sales to find inventory. Other sources include estate sales, garage sales, flea markets and thrift stores.

“You want to offer a variety of items that will appeal to the majority of your consumers,” Marcum says.

It’s all about variety.

“We needed everything from big pieces, dining room table and chairs, to little pieces, vintage birthday cards, high dollar items, mid-century modern decor, to low dollar items, vintage cookie cutters,” Jarvis says. “We needed pieces of furniture to use to display our items that can be priced, sold and then replaced.”

However, Jarvis finds it hard to go wrong with whatever you buy.

“Also, don’t worry about trying to figure out what people are buying,” she says. “All sorts of different people go to the antique mall and there isn’t rhyme or reason to why certain things sell and others don’t”

What’s important is to have stock to quickly replace items that sell, and keep the booth full. More inventory in the booth means more chance at a sale.


How much would I pay for this?

mkc_logo_highA little bit of math, a lot of research and some gut instincts go into pricing antiques.

Most items have a 10 to 15 percent markup to negate what the antique malls take to cover operating costs. Research also steers the direction of the price. Dillman uses guide books to navigate a range, but it’s not her sole indicator since books typically have the prefect price for an item in perfect condition.

Finally a simple question can determine pricing. What would I pay for this to be in my home?

Marcum adds other advice for pricing. What did you pay for it, did you have to buy supplies to refinish it and how long did it take you?

Patience and dedication. 

As with any venture, opening an antique booth requires dedication and patience.

“Never underestimate how much time and effort go in to running your own space,” Jarvis says. “We spend at least one full day a week buying, pricing, painting or moving things around for the space.”

And it can’t be stressed enough, have a pipeline of inventory.

“I would also suggest making sure that you have lots of inventory!” Marcum recommends. “You never know when you’re going to need more pieces to sell.”

Photos courtesy Modern Kitsch Collective.

For more information visit and find them at the Heritage Square Antique Mall at 1865 Channingway Center Dr, Columbus, OH 43232.

Find Lisa Dillman’s booth under the stairs at the Greater Columbus Antique Mall at 1045 South High Street, Columbus, OH 43206.

Find Columbus Furniture Revival at 246 S 4th St, Columbus, OH 43215.