Next month marks our first anniversary at Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery. We struggled with the decision to move into Avonlea because we are newbies in this business. The longer we waited, however, the more furniture kept piling up in our home. We needed to take action. Our pieces needed visibility, and we wanted to be able to walk through our house.

Avonlea not only is the largest antiques and interiors mall in northeast Florida, but it’s in the process of creating a unique online store for its vendors. That all sounded very attractive and, I’ve got to say, we’re quite pleased with our decision.

Here’s our space today — we’ve just upgraded to a larger booth.

Iris Abbey June 2015

A year ago we moved into a very small space because we wanted to evaluate our decision in the most economical way possible. Our booth measured 9′ x 5′ and didn’t offer much room to turn around.

Our First Booth

Color: Our first space came with neutral gray walls. Our excitement about moving in blinded us to an important element: color. Gray turned out to be a poor choice since our gray painted pieces blended into the wall. It looked like a big, boring yawn.

Layering: We added a bamboo rug, a bushy, holiday poinsettia and began acquiring small items to sell. That’s another lesson learned: one can’t get by selling only furniture. Smalls are essential. By December our space looked fuller and we laid out a Shop Small welcome mat to greet holiday shoppers.

Iris Abbey Christmas Booth

Size: Unfortunately, most people bypassed our booth without really seeing it. Very few people actually walked into our small space. A big factor was our neighbor across the street — she displayed two rooms crammed with amazing things. Her rooms served as a magnet that caused shoppers’ heads to snap their attention to her displays and completely ignore ours.  Our neighbor offered us advice early on: get out of that small space and into a larger one so people will take us seriously.

Color Revisited: Since we weren’t completely sold on the idea of a larger booth we decided to spice things up with a new coat of paint. Good-bye gray walls and hello Aubergine. I loved how vibrant and regal it looked. The Saturday after we painted, a customer almost bought that huge mirror. He didn’t, but we were encouraged that the aubergine made our merchandise  pop.

Iris Abbey Booth March 2015

We barely had a chance to test out our newly painted booth because a bigger space became available. Our son Michael helped talk us into the new space to display pieces from his ever growing Mid-Century Modern collection.

Space Revisited: Not only is the new space larger (10′ x 10′) but it’s across from a row of windows. Natural light floods in. Of course, we needed another can of Aubergine paint. I wasn’t giving up that gorgeous color. This time the mall staff painted our walls, no mean feat since the previous color (a hideous yellow) somehow managed to bleed through even after two coats of Aubergine.

We assigned Michael a wall for his pieces and he decided to feature this gorgeous china cabinet.

MCM China Cabinet Iris Abbey

In this next photo the cabinet doors are open. I’m very grateful for the extra storage space.
The chair in front of the cabinet is sturdy, Mid-Century Modern and — surprise — it folds up. To the right you can just see a hint of one of a pair of our Hollywood Regency chairs.

MCM China Cabinet

Michael’s Mid-Century Modern teak cabinet — made in Denmark — is topped off by a period lamp with a lucite base. It’s a great combination.

MCM Danish Cabinet

While we’re on this tour, let’s look around. The back wall features a magnificent mirror flanked by artwork. Those lamps are made from genuine mortar and pestles and would be perfect for a young scientist’s room.

Mirror and Artwork Iris Abbey

We have images from the ruins of Pompeii, a deer’s skull and antlers, an antique painted mirror, a designer’s lamp, and a unique Lady of the House print by Andrew Wyeth. In 1992 the Andrew Wyeth exhibit came to town and I required all my students at Jacksonville University to view his works and write papers. Lady of the House was only printed for that 1992 exhibit, so it’s rare.

Iris Abbey Booth

On the other wall stands our gold and silver dresser, which I love. Mighty Leo the Lion, atop it,  gives visitors a friendly roar.

Booth 76 Iris Abbey

The gray serpentine chest offers a perch for this authentic Osceola turkey, which stands next to a beautiful oval framed photo of a early 1900 family.

Iris Abbey

Here’s a better shot of the Serpentine Chest:

Iris Abbey

A breezy coastal table with hand-painted swans sits front and center in our booth.

Iris Abbey

Just beyond the coastal table stands the hand painted antique desk and chair.

Iris Abbey Desk

Online Presence: It’s essential to market merchandise online. Right now we’re only using Craigslist. Michael posts photos and blurbs on our Avonlea pieces along with ones we have at home (because they don’t yet fit in our booth). Avonlea’s next step is their online store, which should happen any day. We’re hoping that really takes off.

Thanks for visiting! Be sure and leave a comment — we love them.

Ann Marie and David

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Elizabeth and Co.

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5 Comments on A Year in an Antique Mall: Lessons Learned

  1. AnnMarie
    June 10, 2015 at 12:18 pm (4 years ago)

    Your booth looks phenomenal! I just love the color on the walls and your merchandise would surely draw me in to have a look.

    Reply
    • irisabbey
      June 10, 2015 at 2:38 pm (4 years ago)

      Thanks so much. We’ve worked hard this year.

      Reply
  2. Barb
    June 10, 2015 at 1:38 pm (4 years ago)

    Lovely looking space! Very inviting…

    Reply
  3. Cindy
    June 12, 2015 at 2:18 am (4 years ago)

    What a great space, I even love the turkey!!!
    Thanks so much for shairng at AMAZE ME MONDAY!
    Blessings,
    Cindy

    Reply
    • irisabbey
      June 12, 2015 at 2:41 am (4 years ago)

      Thanks, Cindy. I always enjoy visiting your party.

      Reply

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